The story began many years before the actual raising from the dead in June of 1968. When I graduated from seminary and took my first pastorate in 1957 in Lowell, Mass., I was unsaved and about as far from believing that God could do anything miraculous as you can imagine. The church I was serving was filled with people who were lovely, but the majority were very old and the future was anything but bright. Because I was a very independent and egotistical young man, I was convinced that I could change the community, the church, and draw hundreds into the fellowship through my ability to communicate and fascinate.
After two years, there I was standing in front of the congregation on November 11, conducting the annual meeting and wondering how we were going to pay the heating bill. The financial situation there had grown steadily worse, and with an older congregation there seemed to be no hope for continuance. As I stood there pleading with the people, something that felt like a "baseball bat" hit me across the chest, and in a second I was on the floor. The next thing I remember I was in the hospital in a very cold oxygen tent looking out through the fog to see my wife and my best pastor friend standing there with the most concerned looks on their faces. I knew it must be bad, but I did not know just how bad it really was. I was diagnosed with an acute coronary thrombosis and not expected to recover.
Three weeks later I was still alive, but I was told that I could not go back into the pulpit and that it was doubtful that I would see my three children enter school. They were 4,2 and 2 months old. It was obvious that I needed to get out of that stressful situation, and I found myself moving my family to Cape Cod where a tiny little congregation was interested in having a new preacher. Contrary to the advice of doctors and family to leave ministry, I accepted the call to a small village church on Cape Cod, and for a time my health improved. As it did I worked harder and harder to "grow" the tiny church to a larger congregation, but I was still unsaved and even more interested in my reputation and career future than before.
Another heart attack ensued with more damage to the heart and lots more scar tissue. My social drinking continued to escalate until it was very obvious that I had a very serious alcohol problem, along with bleeding ulcers, a disintegrating family, and an insatiable desire to prove that there were great things ahead for me in the ministry, my occupation.
Still not saved, but not out of the loving care of The Almighty God, a deacon (born again and Spirit-filled) from a church in Connecticut appeared one Sunday in the congregation I was still serving on Cape Cod. After the service he said to me, "Our church is interested in you as a possible new pastor." I said: "Well, take a look!" My arrogance was only a very thin cover for the great insecurity and fear I possessed. After great interventions from The Father, I received an invitation to become the new pastor of an affluent and very influential church in a suburb of Hartford, Connecticut.
After two years there of constant prayer by that deacon, his family, and his prayer group, I had an extremely intense encounter with Jesus Christ that changed my life forever. Two years after this life-changing, born-again encounter, in June of 1968, my wife and I were seated in a prayer meeting listening to a woman who was teaching on prayer. She had just introduced us to a then new song, "His Name is Wonderful." We, along with about sixty people, were sitting in a large living room where Ruth Mary Light was teaching. For me it was an exciting evening because gathered in that room were many people who had prayed for me for several years that I might surrender to Jesus, and now as I looked around, I was surrounded by a family of believers who had come to be just that, Family. As we were singing, the sickeningly familiar "baseball bat" struck me again and I fell to the floor; but this time, ten years after my first heart attack, as I fell to the floor there was no fear.
As I hit the floor I knew that I was dead, and even as the realization of that came to me I was being drawn up and out of the room into space which seemed absolutely limitless above and around me. As I was being drawn upward I was aware of an extremely bright light behind me. I was not able to turn and look despite the fact that I wanted to see where I was being drawn. The light behind me was beautiful, bright and warm, but in no way uncomfortable. It was piercing my back and my entire body, but it was an encircling experience that made me feel absolutely secure.
I looked down at the scene below and saw my body stretched out on the floor with people gathered around me. My wife was holding my head in her lap and there were deacons and parishioners scattered about the room. Tears and prayers were going on, but I was experiencing the perfect peace of God as I watched. As I continued to watch I was suspended in space and the drawing upward continued. From the far corner of the room where my body was lying I saw a white haired Pentecostal lady named Mrs. Chittendon start across the room toward my body. We had developed a great relationship over the past two years, and I knew that she loved me like a son, and I surely respected her walk with God which had been for over fifty years.
I watched her as she came to my dead body with her arms outstretched to the Lord. She was shaking and quaking, and as she leaned over me she laid the flat of her hand on my chest and commanded life into my body in the Name of Jesus Christ. The next thing I knew I was sitting upright on the floor of that living room saying, "What is going on and why are you crying?" I looked around and there were the ambulance driver, attendants, and my good friend, my doctor who were all looking at me in amazement. I said: "I am fine, Praise God."
Later I found out that there had been four nurses in the meeting, and along with the doctor they had all declared that I was dead. No vital sings at all were detected, and they told me, I had been in that state for at least forty-five minutes. The doctor insisted that I go the hospital and I said, "No, why should I? I am fine." He then said, "Will you at least go home and rest?" I agreed and he said that he wanted me to come to his office the next day so that he might administer some tests.
The next day I went to his office and he did all the tests that he had done two weeks previously. When the results were compiled he told me that all the tests that had previously shown scar tissue damage and a leaking mitrol valve, as well as bleeding ulcers were completely different and that there was no sign of previous conditions. All the current tests showed that my heart was perfect, and that there was no indication that I had ever had a health problem of any sort! The doctor told me that I was in perfect condition and that if he hadn't done the tests himself he would not believe the results.
I asked him what he would say now. Did I receive a miracle? Had I been raised from the dead? Did I not have a whole new medical record with no physical problems at all? His answer was a shocker. He said that he had no other explanation but that God had brought me back to life and healed me completely, but he could not accept Jesus Christ as his Savior.
Since the night of June 8, 1968, I have not had a heart pain or an attack of any kind. And I can testify that Jesus has been faithful to continue to draw me into deeper and deeper relationship with Him that the Father would be glorified and His kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven. At this writing I am 77 years old, in excellent health, and still traveling and ministering the good news of the love of God and the gospel of His kingdom wherever and whenever He gives opportunity.
Palm Bay, FL