When my twin brother, Mel, and I were born in Nuremburg, Germany, just a little more than 50 years ago, we weighed slightly more than three pounds each. My grandfather, a medical doctor, told my grandmother, “Get on a plane, get over there to be with your daughter; they’re not going to make it.” In 1961 Germany, the chances of a premature birth ending in death were extraordinarily high. Yet, I am here today.
When I was two years old, I contracted an acute kidney infection that the doctors worried would kill me. But I’m here today.
In 2009, I was diagnosed with stage IV non-smoker’s lung cancer and the doctors gave me 18 months to live—at most. Thirty-seven months later, I’m still here.
As my friend, Pastor Elmer Lessa, said this weekend, “We get a medical diagnosis so that we will know the size of the miracle God did when He heals you.” I can tell you from personal experience that “impossible odds” are nothing more than God’s opportunities to demonstrate His power through the most unlikely people in the most unusual circumstances. The problem is, we’ll miss out if we remain in a spiritual slumber.
This past Sunday, my church family at Prestonwood Baptist Church held a prayer service, during which elders gathered around me, anointed me with oil, and prayed over me in keeping with James 5:14. During that time, Pastor Jack Graham said, “This is not a wake, it’s an awakening.” And he’s exactly right! This season of illness and recovery is another opportunity for God to bring glory to His name and for use to draw near to Him in prayer.
My illness, like all difficult circumstances and “impossible odds”, is an awakening. Henry Nouwen explains that the word “obedient” is derived from the Latin root word, audire, which means “listening.” When we awaken, and learn to listen to God, we become obedient. As we hear from God, we get His heart. And what is His heart? To restore souls to Himself. The world needs Jesus. Awakening occurs when God shakes us from our comfort and complacency to get us on our knees so that we will share His burden and His passion, and to fully realize that this world is not our home. Life is a vapor, but we have this hope of glory that is eternal. The world needs this hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
In the past couple of weeks, as I drew near to God in prayer and the news of my illness spread among my friends and those who support the ministry of H.I.S. BridgeBuilders, people all over the world began to gather in the throne room of grace to pray. We have God’s promise that when we gather in His name, and seek His face, He will be faithful to lead us. We will hear His Word. And He’s telling us there’s so much that needs to be done for the kingdom. As we follow through in obedience, His name will be glorified, and what could be greater than that?
As an example of God’s moving in this way, let me share with you two related stories of God moving in the lives of awakened men. The first is Daron Babcock, who joined our staff a few months ago as Director of Community Development. This very successful businessman was awakened by God some time ago, gave up his career, sold his home in a wealthy suburb, moved into the South Dallas neighborhood of Bonton, and now makes about 20 percent of his former income. Many of the things most people labor a lifetime to acquire, Daron gave up.
Interestingly, Daron doesn’t see it that way. At the prayer service, Daron stood up and said, “I didn’t give up anything. God called me to let go of things that were preventing me from experiencing all the goodness He had waiting for me. When I made these decisions, I felt like I was giving up a lot, but it’s been the greatest gift in the world to walk alongside Mike and the BridgeBuilders staff in this great work of God.”
To illustrate, he told the group about a young man named, Germany, whom he met in Bonton. One Saturday evening, Germany and his two brothers were hanging out at Daron’s house. When the time came to go to bed, the young men asked to stay overnight because their home didn’t have any utilities—no water, no electricity, no air conditioning. In fact, they had no food and hadn’t eaten. He explained that to give Germany and his brothers a place to stay and a meal to eat became just one of the many great privileges of his life.
The following Sunday morning, Daron and his son took the young men to church with them. During the service at Reunion Church, Pastor Richard Ellis typically invites people from the congregation to come forward and ask for prayer, or share a praise, or offer a testimony. When Germany moved toward the microphone, Daron thought for certain he would ask for prayer concerning his difficult circumstances. Instead, Germany said, “There is a man who is helping in my community and his ministry is helping my family. He has brain cancer, and I want you to pray for him.”
Let me make this clear. Germany and his brothers have no running water, no electricity, no place to escape the 110-degree Dallas heat, and no food. Yet he prayed, not for himself, but for me. When Jesus was asked which commandment is the greatest, He replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind . . . And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–40).
At 17, Germany has figured out what most people don’t discover in a lifetime. He is fully awake!
My prayer is that, as you are on your knees praying, that you would experience an awakening, and hear what God has for you. I pray that my season of physical illness and recovery becomes the catalyst for your own awakening. He’s seeking to do something in your life that’s new. In fact, it may be something in connection with the movement of God called H.I.S. BridgeBuilders, which is now in seven cities around the world. Perhaps this is your opportunity to experience what Daron, Germany, and so many others have experienced as they engage in kingdom work.
Many have asked how they can support me and my family in addition to prayer, and I will be candid; the weight of seeking monthly support for this work of God is a joy that I will not be able to carry in these coming months. I love when Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him and he said “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you,” and Jesus said to him, “Feed My Sheep.” That is my prayer—that God would rain down His provision in this season of Healing and restoration. But as my time and energy is diminished during my recovery following my brain surgery at 9:00 a.m. this Thursday at Zale Lipshy, I need your help.
If you have been standing with us financially each month, would you prayerfully consider increasing your monthly gift? If you haven’t yet joined us with your financial support, now is the time.
The process is simple. The link below will take you straight to the H.I.S. BridgeBuilders donation page, where you can use a credit or debit card to commit to a regular monthly donation.
Or you may click on the Response Form below, print it, fill in the requested information, and send via mail with your donation to:
2075 W. Commerce St.
Dallas, TX 75208
Thank you for continuing to stand with us and the movement of God called H.I.S. BridgeBuilders! And may your own personal awakening become your opportunity to reap immeasurable spiritual blessings from God as He moves in your life in a fresh, new way.
 Henry Nouwen, Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life (New York: Harper One, 1981), 67.