On a cold January day in 2018, a lady from our church was driving past an apartment building in Ozark County, Mo., where she saw smoke pouring out of its roof and firefighters working to contain the blaze.
In the previous four days, she’d felt burdened to pray and that morning she felt a burning sensation in her hands and face. As she noticed the ambulance outside the apartment building, she sensed God saying, “That’s the person you’re praying for.”
She didn’t know that the person for whom she was praying was me.
That day I’d been called in to take a look at a furnace in the six-unit apartment building I owned. I’d spoken to a professional about the problem and we both agreed it was likely a faulty part I could easily fix.
I climbed a ladder into the attic, turned off the gas and disconnected the gas pipe from the furnace. I smelled propane, which didn’t concern me because I expected that a small amount of gas would escape as I worked. I didn’t know that the gas line was malfunctioning: propane continued filling the attic space.
I lit the pilot and the attic exploded, instantly filling the room with flames. I was thrown back against a wall.
A tenant in one of the upstairs apartments came to my aid with a large bucket of cold water—ironically, it was a bucket I’d loaned him. As I plunged my hands inside, I saw skin hanging off my fingers.
I later learned that I was in shock: I apparently climbed down the ladder and moved my truck away from the building, though I don’t remember it clearly. Everyone was evacuated—fortunately, no one else was hurt—but in my confusion I went back up the ladder to retrieve my tools. (The flames by then had moved away to the rest of the attic.)
I was taken to an excellent burn unit at a hospital 100 miles away. I’d suffered second-degree burns on my face and worse than third-degree burns on my hands. I underwent skin graft surgery the next day.
Surprisingly, doctors could find no damage to my lungs and throat even though I had breathed in a lot of propane. My glasses were destroyed by the explosion, but they protected my eyes against damage. Likewise, my clothes protected most of the rest of my body.
During my recovery, I wore compression gloves and underwent many months of occupational therapy. My therapist and other healthcare providers said that scarring and damage meant most people with my type of injuries become permanently disabled; however, I was able to return to work three months after the accident!
God knew what He was doing when He brought Christian Healthcare Ministries into our lives. My wife, Ada, submitted my medical bills and forms to the ministry soon after the accident. I received treatment at a Catholic hospital whose staff members were familiar with CHM. We never felt pressured to pay our bills right away and took care of the expenses when CHM sent us checks in the mail.
My medical bills totaled over $70,000 and we received more than 30 percent in discounts, bringing the amount that CHM shared to just under $48,000.
Today I’m doing very well, with some scarring to my hands but none to my face. My wife and I talk about how God gave me a “facelift” and took 20 years off my face. Meanwhile, Ada jokes, her concern about me following the accident added 20 years to her appearance.
There were many more miracles, but I’ll mention just a few. Post-explosion recovery, I no longer need to wear glasses! Also, because of the skin graft surgery I now have greater mobility in one of my fingers, which years earlier had almost been cut off in a log-splitter accident.
I believe I’m alive today because of the obedience of the woman in our church who responded to God’s call to pray for me. Her prayers—along with the prayers of hundreds of friends, church members and acquaintances on social media—protected me and caused healing that can be described in no other way than miraculous.