The only way I know how to be a columnist is to write with authenticity. My writing “voice” reflects who I am.
I tell you this because this column is about miracles — and what Pastor John Lindell said about raising the dead last week. Some of you will smack your forehead and proclaim that I, too, am a charlatan or simpleton to even be writing about the topic of miraculous healing.
Since I’m going to write about miracles in my true voice, which often defaults into humor, some of you will say I am being disrespectful, un-Christian and, of course, destined for eternal torment in Fire & Brimstone Lake.
In addition, you should know I was raised a Southern Baptist by fundamentalist parents and for years now I have attended what is probably Springfield’s most progressive church.
Lindell, the long-time pastor of James River Church, announced with his wife Debbie in a short video Sunday that their sons and daughters — David and Becky Lindell, along with Brandon and Beth Lindell, along with support from their daughter, Savannah — will increasingly take on leadership roles at the church with campuses in Ozark, Springfield and Joplin. The move will occur gradually and culminate in 2027.
Sunday’s message was the second revelation in the past week from Lindell, who last week said he believes our nation is on the verge of a Great Awakening and, for reasons he cannot explain, it is starting right here in the Ozarks.
The Great Awakening was a religious revival that impacted the English colonies in America in the 1730s and 1740s.
“I am just telling you there are more stories coming,” Lindell said. “Because what is happening is that your faith is growing.
“It is going to enable God to do more in this place. You have not seen the biggest — I mean every miracle is big. I do not want to put them into big or little, but we are going to see some very unusual miracles.
“You are going to see people get out of wheelchairs. That is going to happen. We are going to see some things we have not seen yet.
“… It is God showing up in this place and saying (he blows air), I am going to breathe on these people. I am going to do something extraordinary for my own sovereign good pleasure.”
Lindell says: Many Christians believe the words, but not the miracles
In his message, Lindell says there are 10 stories of raising the dead in the Bible in the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament.
He contends the Christian church in general has separated the words of the Bible from the supernatural miracles performed in the real world by Jesus Christ, and others.
Most Christians today, he says, believe the words still hold true, but the miracles do not and, as a result, they never even think to pray for miracles.
“If we don’t see something as a possibility, we will never pray for it to happen,” he says.
Part of Jesus’ ministry, he says, is healing the sick and raising the dead. That ministry —including the raising of the dead — can continue today through people of faith in supernatural healing, he says.
“I am going to say to you — and take it in the right spirit. I’ve told Debbie (his wife) for a long time, listen, if something happens and I die, I do not want you to resurrect me from the dead — she could — and I don’t want you to.
“I’m in heaven; I’m happy; I’m going to see you soon.”
14 people raised by one Smith Wigglesworth
In his message, Lindell said a faith healer in the past century raised 14 people from the dead. His name was Smith Wigglesworth.
I am almost more likely to believe that Kristina Dines had three of her toes miraculously grow back at a healing service than I am in believing a human being had the name “Smith Wigglesworth.”
I had never heard of Wigglesworth, who in fact lived from 1859 to 1947. He was a British evangelist influential in the early history of Pentecostalism. He was a faith healer; some believe he raised people from the dead.
I have to say, if I were in Pastor Lindell’s inner circle, I would have cautioned him that two things you learn about Mr. Wigglesworth in the first 10 minutes of research is that:
- First, he considered the place of disease or cancer to be the dwelling place of the devil. That’s why he would violently wail on those he was trying to heal. I’ve read that you could hear the sound of his slap or punch from the back seat of the auditorium.
- Second, his first healing, according to his biographers, was self directed. He cured himself of hemorrhoids.
I don’t know about you, but I would love to know if he somehow was able to punch himself in the ass.
An ER doc’s account of a miracle
Lindell, in his message, mentioned something else that drew my attention.
He read from what sounded like a newspaper story. It had the headline: ‘She Was Dead Before the Prayer, and Alive After’: ER Doctor Reports ‘Clinically Dead’ Woman Revived in True ‘Miracle.'”
Based on the headline I was able to find the story.
It was posted March 20, 2023, on the Christian Broadcasting Network website. The same story appears — in various edited forms — in other various Christian news outlets.
In the spring of 2021, a woman was taken to the Coffeyville Regional Medical Center in Coffeyville, Kansas, where she was worked on, put on a ventilator and other forms of life support and eventually declared “clinically dead.”
The husband asked if Dr. Landon D. Vinson could wait before disconnecting life support until their pastor, the Rev. Brian DePriest, of Coffeyville First Assembly of God, could arrive and say a prayer.
DePriest has said he arrived and initially had no idea medical staff had been working on the woman for three hours. He did what he always does; he put his hand on her and prayed for her.
No coverage in local newspaper
As a journalist, I wondered if the Coffeyville newspaper had done any reporting on what happened next.
If a person comes back from the dead, isn’t that news?
Editor Brea Sanford tells me no, it wasn’t. She oversees the Coffeyville paper. My account to her was the first she had heard of it. It wasn’t news because no one called the newspaper.
I tried to reach Dr. Vinson. I believe I did. He was at the regional medical center.
Someone there covered the phone and told someone else — I’m assuming it was Vinson — that there was a reporter from Missouri State University who wanted to talk to him. The woman on the phone told me the doctor was busy and hung up before I could say a word.
(The Springfield Daily Citizen is based on the Missouri State University campus and I often forget that when I place a call it appears on the other phone as a call from MSU.)
Nevertheless, I tracked down Vinson a different way. He spoke to Pastor DePriest’s congregation Feb. 26, 2023. It was recorded and here’s the link.
Doc says he thought he knew when someone was dead; not so sure now
Vinson is convinced he witnessed a miracle. Here’s what he said at the church.
“I would say I have seen hundreds of people at the end and walked through that journey with them.
“I am — I was at least pretty confident in being able to determine when somebody was about to die or when they were gone. That is kind of part of the job description.
“In the height of the pandemic. Seeing lots of really sick people. I had a woman that was brought in. She had been found down and was getting CPR. And when she got to the hospital we continued CPR.
“Coming upon about an hour of CPR and being on life support. We did get her heart started again, but essentially the only thing keeping her heart going was shots of adrenaline through her blood stream and us breathing for her on a ventilator.
Brain dead: Where do we go from here?
“The woman’s spouse was there and we were starting to talk about, ‘Where to go from here?‘
“We could get her heart going, but from a medical standpoint she was not really alive. We have a lot of different things we do to check for life and, essentially, she was what we call ‘brain dead.’
“There were no signs of life anywhere. Her eyes were fixed, dilated, all the things you can imagine. We had made the decision we were gong to take her off life support so that we could not cause any suffering.
“The man asked if he could just have pastor come pray. We said sure, we’ll wait for pastor to get here. One of the ongoing jokes in the ER, ‘We always say, can we get a priest? And they say, no, we get DePriest.’
“When pastor came it really wasn’t too eventful. I thought we’ll just do this out of respect and I’ll stay in here for prayer. They began to pray over her. My head was bowed. There was another nurse in the room.”
‘I see a hand moving on this woman’
“Maybe just a couple minutes into the prayer, machines are kind of alarming so I think I am going turn it off so it’s not distracting. Then I look up and spontaneous breaths are coming back and I see a hand moving on this woman.
“I look over at the nurse. She kind of looks at me, like, ‘I don’t know.’
“I kind of wait it out because we are still praying. As he’s praying over her, he begins to ask her questions and she starts nodding her head and responding, which makes no sense to me because she did not have any signs of life.
“We had turned off all of her drips and sedations. Prior to that she had three or four different medications keeping her heart going and those were all turned off.
“And now her blood pressure is strong; it’s going through the roof. She is blinking her eyes. I didn’t know what else to do so I leaned down to her and said, ‘Can you hear me?’
“And she nodded her head, yes. I said, ‘Do you want us to keep going or do you want us to let go?’
“When I said, ‘Do you want us to keep going and fight?’ She aggressively shook her head yes.
“I looked at the nurse and said, ‘Ok, I guess we’ll turn back on the sedation because now she is waking up and starting to fight against the ventilator.'”
Lo and behold, ‘God will have the ultimate decision’
“And lo and behold, I sent her out to another hospital with a cardiologist and a surgeon. We shipped her out. She was on no medications keeping her alive other than just to keep her sedated because she was so awake.
“For me, that was the first true miracle that I had ever seen. I’m sure I’ve probably missed miracles because I wasn’t looking. It was the first time for me.
“Sometimes in medicine you can get to a point where this becomes routine and it never should be routine for this type of thing.
“For me, it was almost like my father’s voice, growing up, saying. What I kept hearing was, ‘That is my child. I decide.’
“It was kind of a gut-check moment, a very humbling moment as far as when we think we are in control and we think we call the shots but at the end of the day it was a very humbling reality that — No, you do not call the shots.
“God will have the ultimate decision.”
This is Pokin Around column No. 109.