It is difficult to know where to begin, but the faithfulness of our God compels me to tell the story of how in the midst of tragedy, God rescues, saves, and restores his own. My son Dave and I often joke that he could be called the modern day Job. I told him that God uses people in a mighty way, those who have gone through tremendous trials. He tries them in the furnace to see what they are made of, and to see if their faith is real. Dave passed with flying colors. He was giving his testimony at his church, and the following Sunday a woman approached him with the book 90 Minutes in Heaven, and said that God put it on her heart to give him the book and tell him he should write his story.
For me it started 23 years ago when I gave David an application life bible as a gift for him being promoted in the corporate world. David spent 23 years rising up the ranks of three Fortune 100 companies and pursuing the world of money and success. It left him little time for spiritual pursuits. While the Bible collected dust for many years, I kept praying that God would become first in his life. Never did I dream that it would take severe trials to bring him to that point, but God’s ways are not our ways. As a mother, this wouldn’t have been my way of getting his attention, but here is Dave’s amazing story.
The first part of his story began in 2003. His wife, Christine, was pregnant, and they were expecting their first child together. Christine had a daughter from a previous marriage. Dave already having a daughter (by his marriage with Christine) was excited to have his first boy. Being a huge University of Michigan fan and loving sports, Dave was pumped up to be having his own son. My husband and I came for the birth and we were of course on cloud nine, looking forward to another grand baby! After we returned home many months later we received a phone call that changed our lives. We came back from getting groceries and on the answering machine was a message from Dave. My husband could barely make out the message, but I instantly knew it was from Dave and he was in trouble. I called him back, and Dave, struggling to get the words out, said that Christine had been unfaithful and had an affair at the high school she was substituting in. From there it escalated into one nightmare after another. We found out that the baby was not Dave’s. Then the other family got involved, and eventually Christine was charged with CSC. During this time, Dave was dealing with three separate lawsuits which included criminal, civil and child custody. The finances began draining their entire life savings. Just when it looked like it couldn’t get any worse, Dave lost his job as a Director of a Fortune 100 company.
Throughout this agonizing time, Dave cried out to God, and both families began to pray. It was during this time that Dave first heard the Lord speak to him. He was sitting in a restaurant waiting for Christine to get back from shopping when he heard the Lord say, “My hand is upon you and your family and you will pull through this and be stronger as a family.” He asked the Lord for confirmation and said if my wife comes through the door from shopping I’ll know it is from you. Seconds later, Christine walked through the door.
We began praying as Christine had her court date coming up. At the court hearing, our families met in a small room and held hands and began praying for the best possible outcome as young children would be involved. During the sentencing Christine’s mother and I held hands and continued praying for a good outcome. She was sentenced with six months home detention. We praised God for his mercy, and Dave remained committed to her and began the process of forgiveness. The judge ruled that there would be shared custody, half of the time with their family and half with the other family. The amazing thing was that both families worked together to provide a loving place for this child. Dave has commented so often how blessed he is to have this little boy in his life.
The healing process began with this family, and in 2007 Christine became pregnant again. Again Dave heard from the Lord and he told him he would have a son, and to name him Creed William after Dave’s grandfather. Creed was born on February 7. The Lord revealed to David that his grandfather (who died in 1980) was very proud of Creed. That night Dave asked for a confirmation from the Lord that he was really hearing his voice. Dave went to sleep that night forgetting about his request of confirmation and then in the morning, he heard a thunderous crash like that of an airplane crashing into his top story bathroom. Dave jumped out of bed and noticed the clock and it was 3:00 a.m.. He ran to the bathroom to access the damage and to his shock there was none. He then remembered his prayer for confirmation. The family was adjusting to all the changes and also working on their marriage. Their church was very supportive and they joined some Bible classes. Little did Dave know that his trials were not over yet.
In July, I got up one morning and was reading my bible, when I heard very clearly and distinctively, “Be prepared.” I was quite startled as my husband was gone and there was no one home except me. I immediately went into prayer and prayed that my voice, the enemy’s voice and any other voice be bound in the name of Christ, and again I asked the Lord for confirmation of what I heard. Once again, in an audible voice I heard the words, “Be prepared.” I then began praying to the Lord, “What do I need to prepare for?” It was so impressionable that I called my younger son, and told him what happened. Six days later I received a phone call from Dave. He said they were on their way to church and he began to have double vision. I told Dave it could be a lot of things and that he needed to go to his doctor as soon as possible. Dave went to the E.R. on Monday, and they couldn’t find anything. By Tuesday he was still having trouble so he went to his doctor, and she thought he had some respiratory problems and prescribed him antibiotics. On Thursday I received a call from Christine, and she said Dave couldn’t even swallow his pill or water. I told her to take him immediately to the E.R.. They went to the E.R. in Strongsville, and after examining him they transferred him immediately to Cleveland Clinic. He arrived at Cleveland Clinic at 11:59 p.m. on July 12, and by Friday the 13, they put him on a ventilator. Christine called us from Cleveland and my daughter and I drove from Michigan to be with Christine and my son. They gave him blood transfusions, plasmas, and many tests and he was hanging on by a thread. The doctors had no idea what he had at this point. Saturday morning he awoke to find a tube in his mouth and he that he couldn’t talk. He was alone at that moment and began to pray. He heard a comforting voice say, “I am with you.” Every so often Dave would hear words of comfort, peace, and assurance. By the time we arrived, Dave had a blood clot in his leg, was fighting pneumonia, and his respiratory muscles were paralyzed and he was kept alive by the ventilator. Dave was mentally alert, and could communicate with us by writing on paper. He wrote to me, “God is talking to me.” He said, “Be at peace I will bring you through this, you are in my hands.” Then he had a collapsed lung, and they had to put a feeding tube in his stomach. It was during this time, he started to have internal bleeding.
We stayed with Dave most of the next week, but my daughter had to get back to her family and I needed to get my medications. So, we decided to drive back to Michigan for the weekend and then my husband and I would come back on Monday. While we were driving home, they tried to take Dave off the ventilator, and he had a near death experience. Dave said they asked if he was ready or nervous to get off the ventilator. He just remembered he couldn’t breathe, but he remembered in the Bible where Jesus said don’t look back. He recalled saying, “I’m in your hands, take me.” At that moment, he flat-lined. After he flat-lined, he saw 11 by 12 photographs framed in beautiful mahogany of himself starting as an infant and proceeded through all the times of his life. What was so striking to David was that these were not any photos he had ever seen of himself. At the end of the gallery of pictures, he experienced a feeling of comfort, peace, warmness and joy. Then he was moving toward a light, it was warm, peaceful and loving. That’s when they brought him back. The doctor said they had lost him, but the doctor who was Head of the Department, happened to come in and helped bring him back. Normally they said he would not be there on a Friday night.
Meanwhile, I arrived home to reorganize and get ready to go back to Cleveland with my husband. On Saturday we had a barn sale at our home. I am part of a group of Christian women called The Carpenter’s Daughters and we do barn sales and then give part of the proceeds to different ministries. We had told the girls to go ahead and do it alone, but I went to the barn to put up a sign for people to pray for David. We have as many as two hundred people show up for our sales and I thought we could use every prayer. While I was there, a friend came up and said to me, I saw an article that sounds like the same symptoms your son has. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but I was just ready to go back to the house when this friend’s husband shoved the article in my hand. Another friend witnessing the event said it was like time stopped in that moment. Amidst the crowd I read the article, and it was about cans of chili that had not cooked properly and had botulism in it. I went to the house, and called Christine immediately and asked her if Dave had eaten any chili sauce before he got sick. She said, “Yes, and there is a can in the cupboard.” I told Christine to tell the doctors at Cleveland Clinic it might be botulism. When she went to the hospital, the doctor she talked to said 'We hadn’t had a botulism case in seventy years!' When she called me back I said make a copy of the article and told them to have the can tested. When she talked to another doctor and she showed him the article, they began to take her more seriously. In the meantime two more cases of people with similar symptoms to Dave’s came in. During the time when they were denying it was botulism, Dave said the Lord kept confirming it to him that it was. He asked the Lord for confirmation and the Lord said, “I will confirm it.” They sent samples to the CDC, and six weeks later they officially confirmed it.
About 7 to 10 days after the collapsing lung, another blood clot, and pneumonia, they had to do surgery from bleeding in the stomach. Finally they stabilized him and again they tried to remove him from the ventilator. This time they had all the top doctors, including eight specialists, and the Head of the Department. They tried to pull him off again, and immediately things went bad again. He was not responding and his oxygen numbers were in crisis mode. Dave remembered the doctors screaming “Come back, come on you can beat it!” He remembered feeling at peace and very comfortable and wondering why they were panicking. He said to God, “Why are they panicking?” God said, “Do not fear, I have you in the palm of my hand.” Then God said, “I will never let you go, and you will breathe again.” Immediately after he gave Dave that word, the panic stopped, and he came back. Then the doctor who was head of the department came out to speak to me in the waiting room. I knew from the shocked look on his face that something had gone really wrong. My heart was throbbing as the doctor explained what happened. He said that they had nearly lost him again as they tried to get him off the ventilator. I was devastated and fear began to paralyze me. My worst fear came to fruition, what if they could never get Dave off the ventilator? After the second near death, Dave asked God for his confirmation that he was hearing his word correctly. Then Dave said, “I want to see Jesus.” He appeared, and it was like the near death, there was unconditional love, warmness and a feeling of so much peace. “It is okay,” Jesus was saying, “Here I am.” His appearance seemed to be a radiant white. He radiated with a glow. Dave later read the book Heaven is 4 Real, and the vision of Jesus they saw was the same vision Dave had seen except Jesus was glowing.
During these times, I was in prayer and the Lord gave me prophetic words of encouragement to read to Dave in the hospital. There were about ten prophetic words starting on July 27, and ending Aug. 27th. Most of them were for Dave, but a few were for me from the Lord. Here is an example of the first one the Lord gave me: My little One, My hand is upon your son. Trust and have faith, is this not what I have said? Surrender him, Debbie, and I your Lord will do what is best. Yes, I have great plans for him. He has been faithful to me and his faithfulness will be known to all generations. Take each day, surrender him to me. Fill your heart with love, and positive thoughts. Be with him, and help him through this journey. Little one, do not weep, I have heard your prayers. I AM is in control, and I will be with him. Keep him in prayer and surround him with love. Love conquers all, isn’t this so? Love strengthens, he has much to live for. I will be with him today in surgery. Take care for my hand is upon him. Look up and trust the one who created him. My favor is upon him. I love you, daughter. Have peace today.
It was about six weeks before they stabilized him and then he was transferred to a ventilator hospital. He was at the hospital for four weeks, and it was a trying time for Dave. Bouts of exhaustion hit, and the toll of his illness was weighing heavy on him. It was also a difficult time for his family. We took turns and every week someone from our family would be with him and Christine. Having a new baby and the stress of handling bills and keeping everything going was also wearing on Christine. My fear that Dave would never get off the ventilator began to surface, and I wrestled with it and the complications that it incurred. As I always do, I turned to God and cried out to Him. It was a difficult morning for me as this was the day they were going to try and get him off the ventilator. They said it would be hard, and Dave might be out of it for days. Remembering the first two times they tried to take him off the ventilator at Cleveland Clinic, I sat in Dave’s and Christine’s dining room chair and began to pray. I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Get the stitching you sent them and bring it to the hospital. Tell Dave with every breath, I am going to help him breathe again." I looked up and there was the stitching I had sent them a year ago when their marriage was having major difficulties. The words of the stitching were from a healing prayer session I was part of with my pastor friend. We were praying over a woman who had been sexually abused, and doing theophostic prayer when the Lord spoke these words to her, “Breathe deep the love of God.” It was so moving that I felt the Holy Spirit wanted me to stitch up that saying and give it to people who were hurting. From there the words of Christ touched many people who were suffering. It was a year ago I sent that stitching to Dave and Christine, never realizing that stitching was also meant for me and my family. I went to the hospital to see Dave, and I told him what the Holy Spirit had told me, “That with every breath the love of God would help him breathe again.” Dave waved his hand in the air, motioning to give him a paper and a pen. I watched him write these words, “Mom, God told me the same thing!” I started to cry, and I knew in my heart of hearts that Dave would get off the ventilator. The doctors came in and worked with him, while the rest of us prayed, and then we went to the cafeteria. When we came back, the doctors had succeeded in getting him off, but his body was completely exhausted, and for the next three days, he was sleeping and completely done in. Dave spent four weeks at the ventilator hospital, and then was transferred to a nursing home. It was here that Dave struggled each day to learn to eat again, walk again, and to regain his strength. It took weeks, but slowly Dave began to take baby steps. He was finally sent home, but it was a year or more before Dave felt somewhat normal. He complained of being very fatigued and had some bladder problems. His attorney was researching the effects of botulism, and the lingering health problems. The only studies he could find were from Russia and they did a study of someone six years after they had botulism - and the results were chronic fatigue, muscle problems, and sleeping problems.
During the first week home from this long ordeal, Dave was starting to get stronger and eat a little bit, then he developed a bad case of the flu which was very trying due to his weak immune system. For four days he could not eat anything and was developing a severe case of dehydration. At this point if he did not get better soon he would have to return to the hospital. This is the first time through his entire sickness that Dave had become frustrated and down. Dave reached out in prayer to the Lord and asked for guidance and why would He bring him this far just to send him back. Dave’s cry to the Lord was very emotional and heart filled as he looked to the Lord for an answer. The Lord responded by saying, “This will pass and you will walk on Eagle’s wings.” Dave then asked for confirmation to confirm that this was indeed the voice of GOD ALMIGHTY. Dave requested to hear GOD’S audible voice. That night Dave literally cried himself to sleep, emotionally and physically spent from the long testing period. He was awakened around 3 a.m. with a thunderous voice that yelled, “DAVID!” He jumped from his bed thinking his wife or one of his children were in trouble. Then Dave recalled his request to hear the Lord’s audible voice. He immediately felt a sense of warmth and peace similar to his near death experience. The next morning Dave arose and the flu was gone.
Dave still struggles with chronic fatigue, but God has laid it on his heart to tell his story so that other people will have hope. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) This is one of the verses given in a prophetic word to David during his illness. Dave’s story ends with this promise from scripture, “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the savior of all men, and especially those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:9)
On March 19, 2009, David’s 41st birthday, his legal trials came to an end. Then the Holy Spirit spoke to Dave and told him to take his mother to Israel. That fall David and I went on a week-long trip to the Holy Land that changed his spiritual walk for good. Ever since that trip, Dave has put over 5,000 plus hours in biblical study and continues to love and pursue God’s word. In early 2012 Dave became an ordained Pastor and together we have started the ministry, “HIS GLORY.”