I WILL ABIDE IN YOU; EVEN IN THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH!

As many of you know, I have been facing major, ongoing gastrointestinal problems over the last two years. Once again, I was experiencing some complications, which was diagnosed as a “bacterial overgrowth in my small intestines”. This is a common issue from the colostomy reversal surgery procedure, which I underwent last year. However, the doctor wanted me to have a colonoscopy to make certain that there were no other problems in the colon. Everything seemed to go well during the procedure. They removed three polyps, which were all benign. However, (two mornings later), I was awakened at 4 a.m. with the tremendous urge to go to the bathroom. I suddenly realized that I had passed a massive amount of blood! After a few more of those bathroom visits, in which I was bleeding profusely, I awakened Dianne and told her that we needed to go the emergency room. Later, that gastro doctor informed me that I was experiencing a medical phenomenon, which is called “post polypectomy bleeding”. It happens to 1 out of every 2,000 patients who have the colonoscopy procedure. I continued to bleed alarming amounts of blood and large clots, (during at least 25 visits to a tiny portal toilet, which was in my emergency room cubical). Dianne and I found ourselves in the midst of a medical situation, in which we appeared to be surrounded with distressing incompetence and negligence! As the day passed by, my blood continued to pour out and the medical people around us seemed to exhibit a confusing lack of urgency, Dianne and I both began to consider the possibility that I could actually bleed to death, if this disinterested neglectfulness continued any further. I must say that it was a fierce spiritual battle for both of us to keep our focus firmly fixed on our Lord, when we appeared to be engulfed with such slipshod inattentiveness.

We had been in an emergency cubicle from 7 a.m. until about 7 p.m., when I experienced another large expulsion of blood and began to lose consciousness. The nurse and the physician’s assistance pulled me back onto the bed, lowering my head while inverting my legs. They began to flood my body with liquids, as my blood pressure suddenly dropped to 61/49. I was in an extremely dangerous condition. And yet, even though I had lost the conscious ability to respond, there was an amazing spiritual reality, occurring within my inner being. Even though I could not physically respond to Dianne or anyone else, I could clearly hear everything that was happening in the room. I truthfully thought that this was going to be the time of my home going. Friends, I did not see a bright light! I did not hear an audible voice! However, a very familiar and precious passage came to my mind, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for YOU ARE WITH ME.” Our gracious Good Shepherd was so wonderfully working in my heart, that I experienced no panic or anxiety. And even though my physical world was being externally shaken to its very core, our glorious Good Shepherd was filling my heart with His unexplainable and unspeakable joy. Instead of being overwhelmed with fear, my heart was being flooded with the precious reality of the supernatural love of Lord; and the all-satisfying peace of the Lord.

As a matter fact, I can testify that my heart was overwhelmed with the same sense of “the supernatural and sacrificial love of God for me”, which I first knew at my conversion 37 years earlier! As I lay there, unable to respond, I can truthfully say that the peace of God was guarding my heart in Christ Jesus! My inner being was overflowing with gratefulness to our God, for the precious peace of God and the amazing love of the Lord for a “hell-deserving” sinner like me.

Furthermore, as all of these heavenly blessings were occupying my mind, I know that my heart was being guided to begin to intercede for Dianne. For as of yet, two of our children, (who were coming in from out of town), had not arrived; and I did not want Dianne to be alone, if this was to be my graduation day into glory. So I began to pray for her, until I was able to consciously communicate again. Dear brothers and sisters, I must confess that I would be totally unable to respond in this manner, in and of myself. For before my conversion to Christ, I had a paralyzing fear of death! I can only give the glory to the Good Shepherd who has given us this precious promise, “abide in Me and I will abide in you”! He truly is our very present help in time of trouble. Even in the dark valley of adversity, He is faithful to be our refuge and strength. Dianne and I have walked through four fierce storms, in the past 22 months. But both of us can truly testify of the all-sufficient supply of the One who proclaimed, “I am the Vine”. He has been with us through every valley! Friends, this ordeal has left me weak. However, I am gaining strength daily and preparing for the works that the Lord has for me.

“LO, I AM ABIDING WITH YOU ALWAYS AS YOU CARRY OUT THE GREAT COMMISSION!

Even as I was writing this newsletter, I received a phone call from Bro. Jim Jordan, (the Director of The Mission of Hope here in Mobile, AL). He testified to me that one of the men, whom I had the joy of preaching to on the previous day, had publicly proclaimed his conversion to Christ. Bro. Jim had recently invited me to preach the two services on Sunday at the Mission of Hope. This is a Bible based program, which ministers to men who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. The Spirit of God was mightily manifesting His presence and awesome power’ throughout both services.

The approximately 60 men, who are presently in the program of the Mission of Hope, attended the 11 a.m. Gospel preaching. Then those men, plus a large number of their family members, attended the 2:30 p.m. service! The newly renovated sanctuary was literally packed with unconverted folks, who desperately need the Lord. Oh, precious friends, I am so thankful for the obvious ‘abiding presence of the Comforter’, who was energizing and enabling this needy preacher! God graced me to proclaim, “Christ and Him crucified”, in both services. And the Spirit of the Living God visited us and accomplished what no man can do. He applied the “Gospel” in a demonstration of His miraculous and supernatural power! There is no greater joy in all of this world, than to preach the glorious Gospel to the ears of men; and then become a living witness to the miraculous power of the Gospel to transform lives! These two evangelistic outreach services were only one of the five precious opportunities that I have been given to preach the Word of God to those men since our last newsletter. Please continue to pray for the ongoing ministry at the Mission of Hope. Also, please pray for our men’s class, (headed by Herb Fisher), who has the privilege of planting the Word of God in these men, every Wednesday night!