Testimonies of personal and social transformation.
From Chapter 1, “Gangsters in the Doorway” in Do What Jesus Did, by Robby Dawkins.
[One of two testimonies by Robby Dawkins. The other blog is Gangsters in the Doorway.]
As I thought through this experience, I kept wondering, Lord, why did You use me to do this? I don’t have that ability. What I sensed the Lord clearly speaking back to me that day was “Robby, I’m just looking for people who are available.”
The day that God chose to interrupt me, I wasn’t thinking of anyone but myself. I had been hired as a youth pastor, but my vision of ministry had pretty much been brought to its knees by the reality of answering phones and doing the menial tasks that consumed my days. That particular day, I was in a terrible mood. I felt deeply unappreciated by my senior pastor and his family. I felt far from God and from all of the things He had called me to. I was angry and hurt. This was not in any way my shining moment as a Christ follower.
The phone rang, and I answered it half-heartedly. Probably another sales call, I thought, or maybe a message for me to deliver.
The woman on the phone introduced herself hesitatingly. “Look, I don’t really know what to ask,” she began. “I don’t go to church. As a matter of fact, I’m not even a Christian,” she offered apologetically. “I just picked a church from the phone book because my father’s going in for heart surgery right now. He’s in bad shape, and the doctors say they really don’t think he’s going to make it. We had to press them to go ahead with the surgery.”
She sounded fragile and worn as she explained that this was her father’s third bypass surgery, and it most likely meant the end of his life. She didn’t know where else to turn, but it had crossed her mind to call a church. She hoped someone would burn a candle, rub some beads for her father, sing a hymn or say a prayer for him in his final stages.
As she tried to rationalize to herself and to me why she had reached out to us, I could tell she was a little embarrassed. Maybe she even regretted that she had bothered to call at all. What could I do? I offered to pray for the surgery with her, though I didn’t really want to. It sounded as though her father definitely wasn’t going to make it.
“Well . . .” I paused reluctantly, “I could pray for him. . . .”
Frankly, I just wanted to end the phone call as quickly as possible. I didn’t think much would change because of my prayer. As I began, it sounded as if I were giving his eulogy: “Lord, just be with this man’s family in this difficult time. You’re close to the broken-hearted. Help them, comfort them and be near to them in their grieving.”
I was pretty much burying the man in my prayers. My thinking was, Why would God want to heal him? He’s not even a believer. God barely even heals any of His own kids.
Then the Lord spoke something to me that I didn’t understand. I didn’t hear an audible voice, but I had a strong sense that He was urging me to do something. At the time, I could only point to a few other occasions in my life in which I had heard the Lord speak to me. This was another one. However, I was so distracted by my own concerns that I was almost annoyed at the interruption! What I heard God say was, “Get out on a limb.”
What could He mean by that? I wondered.
Then He urged me again: “Take a risk.”
I thought, What am I supposed to do? These people aren’t even Christians. There’s no risk to take. Immediately the Scripture came to mind that says, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81: 10 NKJV).
Without really having any idea of what I was about to say next, I told the woman, “I hear God saying He’s about to . . .” The words fumbled from my lips, and what I heard coming out was “. . . completely heal your father and give him a brand-new heart, and as a matter of fact, He’s going to give him new lungs to go with it.”
This was weird! She hadn’t said anything about her father’s lungs. Have you ever heard yourself say something, then wished you could reach through the air, grab the words and pull them back into your mouth, destroying any evidence that you spoke something so foolish? Most married men know exactly what I mean. As soon as I realized what I had said, I panicked and stopped myself. I began to backpedal as quickly as possible, saying, “Now, wait a minute! What you need to know is that I’ve never prayed for anyone and seen them healed before. You should know that most of the time when I pray for people, they get sicker, and some have even died. I know that God can do things like what I just prayed, but He’s never used me to do them. What I just said probably won’t happen. . . .”
I was panic-stricken. What if this woman got her hopes up and wound up horribly disappointed? It would be all my fault. She interrupted me. “You said God is going to give my dad a brand-new heart?”
I gulped out, “Yes, but—”
She cut me off with a brief “Thank you!” and hung up the phone.
With that click of the phone my heart dropped to my toes. What in the world was I thinking? I felt that I had done everything but make this woman’s pain easier. What if they sued the church? I mean, I was no healer!
When the woman called again crying hours later, my heart sank. I couldn’t make out a word she said at first, and I thought, Oh no, I killed her dad with my prayer. Why did I pray for him? What was I thinking? I started to apologize profusely: “I am so sorry this happened! I am so sorry for your loss. . . .”
“What— are— you— talking— about? What— loss?” she stammered.
I could just make out her words through the sobs, and I wasn’t sure that I had understood. “Your dad,” I said, “he’s . . . dead?”
She said, “No— he’s doing great!”
Nobody was more surprised to hear that than me.
“Yes, that’s right. . . .” She pressed out the story through her tears. “When the doctors opened him up, they said my father had a brand-new heart!” She explained how several years ago her father had had a valve replacement. The doctors had implanted a heart valve from a pig to save his life. All of that was gone. All the scar tissue from the previous surgery was gone. The doctor said it was like the heart of a thirty-year-old man.
I was absolutely stunned. Could this actually be happening? I wondered.
She kept going: “I didn’t even tell you this, but he had had half his lung removed on that side. You mentioned something about God giving him a new lung. When they looked inside, they also saw that he had a whole lung where they had removed half!”
I kept trying to understand if I was hearing her right. “Are you sure?” I asked. “Now, are you sure this happened?” It was hard to wrap my brain around it. God had healed this man, and I could barely believe it. I told her, “I have to see documentation.”
Because of my disbelief, she said, “Are you sure you’re a pastor?” That next Sunday, she came to our church with her whole family. She even brought me her father’s medical records from before and after the surgery. Through that experience, her entire family believed God and decided to follow Christ.
For me, it was the breaking in of something I had longed for ever since I was a kid. I saw the reality of God’s power and His desire to work through us, which I had been living in complete ignorance of. I hadn’t been on some forty-day fast or an in-depth Scripture study. What I had was a really lousy attitude before she called— nothing seemed particularly holy or superspiritual about that day. Quite the opposite, in fact.
As I thought through this experience, I kept wondering, Lord, why did You use me to do this? I don’t have that ability.
What I sensed the Lord clearly speaking back to me that day was “Robby, I’m just looking for people who are available.”
Dawkins, Robby (2013-06-15). Do What Jesus Did: A Real-Life Field Guide to Healing the Sick, Routing Demons and Changing Lives Forever (Ch. 1). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.