Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Week 2009: Looking For Your Miracles, Part 2

Hey gang!

If you haven’t read the first part of this, please go back and read it first. The reason I make this request is so that you understand my true heart in speaking on part two. This is a very emotional part and I truly want you to get it. This part tells a story of today that miracles are still here, still available and still loved and appreciated by God’s people. I also want you to understand that I may forget or not mention people that are very important in this miracle. In the comments, at MySpace, Blogspot or even on Facebook, I invite you to add your miracle witnessing, people that may still be overlooked, or other miracles that may encourage and strengthen the readership of One Man Revival. It is my pure intention to speak in a loving, kind way of the people who have been so much a part of one of the most beautiful events I have seen in my lifetime. I omit no one on purpose. I am just one voice.

OK, here we go again. We are talking about miracles. In part one, I told you that it was easy to see that miracles happened in Jesus’ time because Jesus was there, physically. I have also explained that they didn’t stop with the death and resurrection of our Savior. The disciples continued that work throughout the New Testament and Jesus told us that the ability to see, witness and perform miracles was not leaving with him. He left us His Holy Spirit and the keys to be able to change the world.

Thanks to this ministry, I’ve been very fortunate to meet people that are working around the world as missionaries and evangelists making a difference for the call of Christ. There is my brother James Solomon Mensah in Ghana, there are a few guys that are in the Eastern Rim of China, the Phillipines, and Japan. On a more local level, I’ve met my friend Joshua Sullivan, who goes all over the country evangelizing the truth of the power of Jesus.

I truly believe there is a call on my life to speak to the world and God has given me One Man Revival Ministries to do that. I am so thankful that he has taken a substitute teaching daddy of three children and given him a laptop to write about all the great things that Jesus has done and can do, if only we ask for the keys.

Like I said at the end of part one, if I could give an award for the Miracle of the Year 2009, I would have to give it to one that has happened before my eyes. It didn’t start out that way. In fact, I have to say that I thought it would be over in two days in tragedy. The thoughts still race through my mind. When I look back, it has been a long process.

The night I learned about Kim Burry being sick was Thursday, September 17. It was less than a week after we, as a country, had taken time to remember the tragedy of 9/11. Kim and her husband, Bill, had just come back from vacation in the Gulf Shore area of the country and most people return from vacation vibrant and ready to get back into the action. The stories I heard were many, but the reliable story was that Kim was feeling some pain in her neck as it had started to swell upon her return. She didn’t feel right.

On Wednesday, the 16th, she and Kathy Doty had went to the ER at St. Anthony’s probably thinking that she’d get a shot for some kind of infection and head home. Within hours, her body had begun to shut down. That night, she had to be flown to St. John’s Memorial Hospital in Springfield. She fell into a coma and the reports weren’t good. Many of the words, gossip and truth, had her looking death in the face by Friday the 18th.

While all the reports were sounding negative, Bill was refusing to take it as the Gospel. It wasn’t that Bill wasn’t listening, like “La, La, La, I am not listening, but you are still talking,” but he was refusing to give up on his wife. He was believing for total recovery, not just because he is our Executive Pastor and is supposed to, but because this was his wife, a woman that he loves. I’m a few years younger than Bill and I couldn’t fathom having to sit there with my wife at death’s door. I kept thinking, “Would I be that strong, that faithful to the woman I love?” Honestly, I probably would’ve been calling family preparing for the worst, not believing that my wife could survive an unknown cause.

What made this situation a little more stressful was that our other two pastors were out of town. They weren’t MIA, but they were working on other fronts. Tyler was in Nashville and Van was in Jacksonville. The rest of the staff stepped it up without them. The church was opened the 16th-18th all day and into the evening hours for people to be able to come and pray.

By the time I was able to go and be a part of the prayer process on Friday night, over 75 people had been there over the three nights to pray in support of the Burry family. Above that, most of the staff had gone sometime between Thursday and Friday to be there and many more church members went that Friday night to be with Bill and the boys. Springfield isn’t a jog in the park. It is over two hours away from Effingham. As I said in my commentary on that night, “People may think that it's no big deal. To me, the staff showed unity and love for their comrade's time of need. But again, it didn't end there. Another group of the church went to Springfield tonight to pray with and show their love and concern.”

This happened on what people would call non-church nights. I’m not going to say that our church was struggling in support of each other, but this time of tragedy turned into a time where the people came together. I’ve always criticized the church (in general) that when the church comes together, it is usually the same five to ten people that do all the ministries. For the first time in my church going memory, there seemed to be a calling to arms of people being together. It appeared, at this point, that it was closer to a hundred coming together and showing unity in a dark hour.

How I found out about Kim was not through a normal means. I know that many churches have a prayer chain, including ours. My number just simply wasn’t on it. I may have gone in on Monday nights to pray with a few people, but I didn’t give out my number so that anyone could call me in an emergency. Since our family has only been there less than two years, I guess you kind of assume that there are people in place who seem to have a lot better connection to the throne room than you do. That may be shameful to say as an internet minister, but at least I’m honest.

However, I found out through a place called Facebook. If you’ve been reading One Man Revival, there is a good likelihood that you found out about my writing there. I had seen a couple acquaintances, Amy Propst and Kathy Doty, mentioning what had happened without much detail. Again, there were others giving much more grim words. I won’t come down on some of these others because rumors get started and get repeated as if they are the truth. There were well meaning people putting out these words. Some of them were true. I think it shook a lot of people at their core.

By the weekend, the Burry family had come to realize that Facebook was a great way to keep people up to date on Kim. They began a Kim Burry Update page. That page is still active today with over 1,400 people signed up for it. This was the place to get the latest information on Kim’s progress, send words of encouragement and post pictures.

But by Sunday, the church hadn’t just come together by going to and fro to Springfield and by Facebook, they came ready to challenge Satan for Kim in prayer. There was a prayer service dedicated for Kim between the two services at New Hope on Sunday. I didn’t count them, but I would put the numbers of people being a part at 400-500.

I will always remember certain things about that service. I remember the encouragement of staff to speak until SURGE/Junior High minister Brooke McMahon spoke. I will never forget Brooke telling us how Bill was like a father to her and someone asking for her to pray and she just rolled into prayer. It was powerful. I’d always respected Brooke as a teacher and as a leader. I got to spend some time with her and some of the teens out at Agapefest. But to hear her pray. It was the lightning rod that took the service to another level.

We separated into groups and my wife and I had joined up with Pastor Van’s group. Truthfully, if we had the prayer service to do over, we probably would’ve encouraged smaller numbers in each group. I could barely hear Van pray and PV is not a quiet guy praying. But I think we were all struggling to hear. I kept listening and hearing nothing, so I prayed. I thought, “Let’s get the ball rolling to encourage others to pray out loud.” That was my role, nothing more. After I finished, the next three I remember were Greg Lamb, Linda Cozadd and Mrs. Balda. I’ll always remember after the service, my wife and I in the car talking and her saying to me, “Wow! That was a good prayer. I didn’t realize you were thinking about this so much.” I had been, but I still felt my prayer was lame, politically correct prayer. I looked back at my wife and was honest. “Honey, my prayers were nothing. I prayed as if God would heal Kim, one way or the other. She would get better or she would join God. Greg and Linda prayed as if God would totally heal Kim and bring her home to Effingham.”

Once the group prayer was over, Van invited everyone to stay for worship. It was the idea to thank God for doing what we prayed for. I truly wish looking back on it that we had stayed, at least for the worship part. I remember the next day (Monday) feeling an overwhelming feeling of heaviness. Me and many others had been praying for Kim for now on five days and it was beginning to burn onto us. It was a heavy burden. One of the things that I hope we, as our church, learned in this is to release that heaviness to Jesus. Jesus speaks how his burden is easy and his yoke is light. He has carried ours for all time and we need that memory.

By that Sunday, there had been a collection begun for the Burrys to help with the medical costs and there was work beginning on ideas for fundraisers. People realized that this recovery was going to happen, it was going to be long and it was going to cost money. Money that a pastor and his wife, who also worked in the church, didn’t have. An account has been set up at Crossroads Bank here in Effingham for the family. I’ll give you the address here, but it will also be at the right side of the One Man Revival under Kim Burry Update information, if you wish to donate to help them out. It is Crossroads Bank/Keller Drive Facility, Attention Bill and Kim Burry Fund, PO Box 783, Effingham, IL 62401. There is also a collection drive being done with window decals. The decal logo will also be on the right, but I hope that someone will send me the information again on where the donations for that need to go to.

Over the next six days after that, Kim continued to heal. Blood wasn’t getting to all the extremities, but she was making progress. The fever was breaking, things were starting to heal up from this mystery virus. On Saturday the 26th, she woke up. There was a lot of pain, so for a little while, they had to sedate her. I told you about the Facebook group, but I still noticed some individuals who were praying what seemed to be extra hard, a tenacity that would not quit.

I still remember waking each morning to find Amy Propst’s encouraging voice each morning with scripture. I know that Kim is Amy’s best friend, but I have to be honest. The longer the days went, you began seeing less people being bold. Amy just kept coming with scripture after scripture. Not knowing their friendship before this happened, I liken the friendship to Jonathan and David. I made the comment a week or two ago on one of my Facebook statuses that men don’t have relationships like women do. Amy and Kathy Doty have both gone up to Springfield and stayed with Kim. Guys just wouldn’t do that for each other. We’ll do it for our wives or for our parents, but we would never do that for a close friend. Kathy has shared some of the funnier stories, but both these women have gone above and beyond to be with her as Bill gets some needed rest. That’s the kind of love that as friends we should have for one another. The times are tough, the friendships are tougher.

Bill shared recently near the beginning of the month of November that it has been nine weeks in her recovery. She is awake most of the time, speaking well from what I hear, most of the tubes are being removed within a week or so. Everything is starting to sound good again. I know a couple weeks ago, there was a nervous moment as blood began forming on her brain. The doctors originally thought stroke and that would have been a devastating setback. But I found something amongst the people praying for her and even in my own prayers. Kim has come so far. She is beating the devil with all the prayers. I think there is such faith now. There was almost a non-verbal feeling of, “Devil, Kim has recovered this far. She is ours. She belongs to Jesus. You cannot have her back.”

Kim has made a comeback. In sports, she’d be receiving awards. Here, we just keep praying for her to be home and back with us in Effingham. People truly believe that she will be walking and talking. The therapy to get her strength back is hard. I understand that. But I think that most of the 1,400+ online and the people all over that aren’t, are believing that their God is stronger and more capable of helping Kim ALL THE WAY BACK!

We are inside the 12th week at this point. Prayers are going up everywhere that Kim be home before the calendar turns into 2010. We are begging God for a Christmas Miracle that will be more encouraging than any other present that can be found in the stores. God, we want Kim. We realize that Kim’s miracle recovery has been that. It has given glory to you. The doctors have been so mystified by her recovery. I enjoyed Kathy’s story on Sunday of an Indian doctor and her working on getting him to call her recovery what all of us are calling it, a Miracle.

God, I just want to thank you for allowing me and my ministry to have had the eyes to see this miracle. I thank you that you placed it on my heart to share it with my readers for this Thanksgiving season. In a time we look at our lives and realize how much good you have placed in it. We indeed are thankful and blessed. We thank you that Kim is still on the mend and that because of the faith seemingly large enough to move that mountain, that you have shown your mercy and love to us. Kim, Bill and their sons have been blessed by the prayers, love and support of our church family and beyond it. I am amazed that churches in other states and around the globe have prayed for Kim’s recovery and you are bringing that work to completion. Lord, we will not settle for anything less than her being back in Effingham, in her home, with us praising and worshipping a God that loves her and all the people that have been along for the ride. Thank you Jesus for loving Bill. Thank you for placing a love in his heart for his wife that no devil could overrun. The old saying “Love Conquers All” is so true for this man. It has given me such respect for a man I’ve barely gotten to know up close. Thank you for this church, New Hope. Lord, you have placed me in a superb body of people who continue to show me true love for the people. I have personally been so fortunate to be involved here during this time. You have blessed me many times over with loving churches, but this one has had a very special place in my heart and the hearts of my wife and kids. This church is home. Lord, thank you for the support of friends who never quit praying. You have shown and made some powerful prayer warriors through this miracle. Only you know the number of hearts that have been so moved.

Finally Lord, I pray for two more things. First, if there are names who have been so important to helping this miracle reach its fruition that I have failed to mention that you or others feel need some love, please allow people to be comfortable to say so here or at Kim’s Facebook page.

Lastly Holy One, I know there are other miracles worth noting. Some may appear minor, but to those that feel a want to comment, it is important enough that I and other readers would love for them to share. I believe in miracles, as Newsong says, I’ve been a miracle myself. You let me live in 1992 when you could have finished me. I would have been lost without you and a life of hell and The Lake of Fire would have been just for me. But you let me live, you allowed me to draw unto you in April 1994, and you have blessed me with more miracles than I can ever count since then. Thank you Lord Jesus. I love you!

And I love you guys too,

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