Destined to Overcome Ministries
crown

Duane's Story

I held the Winchester rifle I used for elk hunting. I was in my office, at my home, with the door closed. There might as well have been bars on the windows and chains on my hands and feet, for I felt I was in prison. My hands, now wet with perspiration, gripped my rifle as I cried out, "If I have to go through life a prisoner in my own body, I will take my life!"

How could I, the pastor of a thriving church, husband of a beautiful wife, and father of two lovely children, be reduced to killing myself? How had this nightmare begun?

Then I recalled the day my wife Violet came into my office and found me distraught. "I can't remember how to spell Jesus; help me," I pleaded.

While playing my saxophone one Sunday morning, suddenly my soft palate went limp, causing air to go out my nose rather than my mouth. I was having difficulty swallowing. I desired to escape from people. My church board had suggested a complete physical; and, after 21 tests, the doctor could find nothing wrong.

As my condition worsened, the doctor suggested I take a trip to the mountains for a rest. "You are possibly on the verge of a nervous collapse," he said.

One day as I sat rubbing my ear, it became apparent I had no feeling on that side of my body. A CAT scan revealed a blood clot pressing on my brain in the area that controls speech and reflexes.

The operation had taken several hours. A blood clot the size of a man's fist was removed from my speech center. When I regained consciousness, I could only say two words... Oh God!

Though my reasoning powers were intact, my abilities to read, write and speak were gone. The doctor had said, "The chances of you ever talking again are so slim because much of the brain over the speech center had to be cut away from corrosion." He felt the clot had been forming for about a year.

What could the future hold? How would I function as head of my family and pastor, with a brain incapable of healing itself?

I had enjoyed fluent speech, preaching since the age of 16. Now it was reduced to a labored, ridiculous utterance. The days of a daily radio program were over. No longer could a play my saxophone.

I couldn't even read my Bible. I would lay it on my chest and cry within, Lord, when I could read Your Word, so often I didn't find the time. I had nothing but the memory of how good God had been to me.

I recalled the session I had with God the night before the CAT scan. "O God, I don't want to die. You have given me a wife, a son, and a daughter, and you have called me to be a pastor." Not seeming to get through to God I walked to the window and looked toward the north. I formed a cup with my hands, telling God these represent your hands, and finally prayed a prayer of relinquishment. "0 God, I don't want to die; but whatever You have for my life, I leave it with You." It felt so good to have passed that test.

Now as I sat fingering my rifle, there was no sweet peace, no victory. The feeling of death which had fled from my hospital room that night was imminent, so close I could feel it scorching my soul.

The gun felt heavy in my hands. I could not believe I was contemplating suicide. That was reserved for people desperate with hatred, vengeance, drug problems, and sin! I reflected on the sermons I had preached on God's sovereignty and the meaning of the word praise.

The Holy Spirit began to speak to me. "Are you ready for the examination?" He questioned. "You have preached on praise all these years. Now if I don't heal your present condition, will you still praise Me?"

I cried out in terror, "No, Lord; You are unfair!" No way could I pass this difficult test. I gritted my teeth. I was angry. I was certainly in the flesh at this point. The Holy Spirit brought again to my mind the words of my minister father who many years ago had said, "Son, remember the Holy Spirit is a gentleman, and He will not cross the threshold of your will."

The ball was now in my court. At that moment I threw the gun down, and my spirit was released as I replied to the Holy Spirit, "O God, forgive me; I will praise You through it all. If You never heal my present condition, I will still praise You." My healing began at this point. As I surrendered everything to God He then began to Heal me. It was to be a progressive healing that took about seven years.

The doctors have been amazed at my progress. A nurse from my church was asked by the surgical nurse who was in attendance during the operation, "How is your pastor? He is doing fantastic!" she replied. "Well, he can't be doing that well. After all they cut into his speech center three times, and he wasn't supposed to ever talk again," she declared.

I thank God for a wonderful family who stood by me in my hour of examination; for my congregation, for my church board, for my associate Greg Hickman and for a host of friends who refused to quit praying until I was restored.

Since this article was written I have resigned my church and am now full time in taking the message of encouragement throughout the United States and Overseas.

As written in the Pentecostal Evangel / September 30, 1984.

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