God Gave Me His Hand
To hell and back Matthew is brought back to life by the faithful hand of the Father.
"I took the first two bullets to my head."
On March 22, 1992, while we were on a business trip to Atlanta, GA, two business associates, who happened to be my brother and his brother-in-law and I were leaving a restaurant. While waiting on a cab ride, three other men, outfitted with 9MM Uzi machine guns, opened fire into the crowd of people around us. I took the first of two bullets to my head and dropped to the sidewalk dead. My brother’s brother-in-law tried to find safe haven from the gunfire, but he was also shot in the head. He did not survive; but he knew the Lord Jesus and is in heaven with our Daddy on high.
TO HELL AND BACK
I did not know Jesus at the “indestructible” age of 28. I did not go to heaven. I went into hell, a place where I was held captive, immersed in pure, unadulterated fear. It was as though a thick, black ink had been poured over my wide open eyes. I felt icy cold beyond that of any temperature imaginable. The most frightening aspect of my captivity was that I knew to the deepest parts of me that I was totally alone, isolated forever. I suddenly realized the meaning of the word, “eternity.” To spend eternity there was beyond any experience of fear I had ever known.
I also understood that this place was void of all good and only served to clarify that I truly ‘was in hell’—forever and ever. Then the scene began to change. Out of the top corner of the darkness, I saw a large hand that appeared aged and wrinkled, like it had existed forever, yet it was soft. In slow motion, it came down towards me, descending to where I was until it came to me. The hand slowly, yet with firm gentleness, wrapped me in its fingers. As I saw the hand descend, I was flooded with brilliant, dazzling white light that dispelled all the blackness. I saw fine, white feathers filling the area about me, comforting and warming me.
Although I didn’t know what that meant, I knew I was going to be o.k. I can still feel the warmth of that soft hand on me to this day. Just as it had entered the blackness, I was slowly and gently lifted up and out of hell.
I had no idea that this was the hand of God, our dear Daddy coming into hell to take me out. While His hand was lifting me up, I heard a voice say clearly, “It’s not your time”.
At that time I had only been married a short three years to my beautiful wife, Nancy. What was happening to me pushed her into a period of unimaginable stress. Back at the scene of the shooting, I began flat lining, the first of many times afterwards for the next 27 days as I lay in a coma. I was kept alive by a respirator, kidney dialysis and was fed through tubes. The doctors informed Nancy that I had only a thirty percent chance of living. If I did, it would be a life of moment-by-moment emergencies. According to them, I would “never be able to walk again.” I would be in a vegetative state and have to be institutionalized.
The doctors handed her the organ donor papers so they could ‘harvest’ what they had need of on a moment’s notice. That was too much for anyone to have to carry especially when Jesus is not their Lord and Savior. Facing the grim prognosis and against all the family’s advice, she went down a corridor in the hospital to try to compose herself.
Suddenly Nancy felt a gentle, firm hand upon her shoulder causing her to spin around. Expecting to see a news reporter or a member of the family, she was amazed to see no one there. She knew that hand was the hand of Jesus upon her shoulder. She hurried to my side and made a vow to never leave me.
She prayed, “Whether Matthew is ever able to ever walk again or not, just bring back who Matthew is, bring back his personality, just make him live again.”
After this touch from Jesus, Nancy was able to make life and death decisions concerning me and carry the burdens for others, too. But she neither chose nor promised to follow Jesus.
For the next 27 days I lay comatose. I lost over 60 pounds of body weight. When I finally became conscious, I was paralyzed on the entire left side of my body, incapable of feeding myself, incapable of sitting up, much less walking.
"Forgiving someone only comes by God’s grace."
For the next 9 months I was in a wheelchair. For the next two years, I underwent the painful rigors of physical, occupational, speech, recreational and cognitive therapy. During this time, I slowly progressed from the wheelchair to walking with a modified ski pole and then to a wooden cane that Nancy’s father carved.
In spite of surviving such a terrible injury and enduring rehabilitation, what the Lord had done for the two of us was pretty much forgotten. We realized that living in Michigan was not advantageous to my well being. The icy, snowy winters made it very difficult for me to get around since Nancy would have to push my wheelchair and lift me into our car in order to drive to the rehabilitation hospital every weekday. She had to give up her job to help me to rehab, and I could no longer hold a job.
We had been saving my wife’s income to purchase a dream lake house, so we lived on that along with the generosity of my family whose business provided enough finances that we could keep our home. After the two years of rehabilitation in Michigan, the doctors said that I had progressed to my maximum recovery point and discharged me.
Nancy and I knew there was more, so when we heard of an alternative therapy facility located in the North Palm Beach, Florida, we decided to move there into a condominium my parents owned which was not far from the facility. This was only the first of many divine set ups.
I felt much better and could move about more easily in the climate of Florida. So we relocated to Gainesville, Florida in 1994. The University of Florida was there and I was planning to go back to school, this time graduate school, since I held a B.A. from Michigan State University - another divine setup.
One day while we were out in the street of our new neighborhood, I met a neighbor walking his dog. After the usual introductions and casual talk, I said, “Hey...do you know where a good church is around here?”
Until that moment, we had not been looking for a church! Later, when I told my wife what I had said, it nearly floored her.
The man invited us over for a meal where we found him to be a serious worshipper of God. One of his sons played a violin. I love violins. So when they told us that their son was going to play at the Easter service, we decided to go and see him play. The Lord touched Nancy and me so deeply, so intimately during that service that we gave our lives to Jesus that very Easter morning, 1995.
"I trust that my Daddy knows what He is doing."
I had been accepted to the Rehabilitation Counseling School at the University of Florida under a provision of the Americans with Disabilities Act which allowed me to attend school one fourth of the time earning my M.A. in 1996. Nancy also enrolled in the speech therapy department and earned her B.A. with honors.
The church we attended, the place where we were saved, decided to plant a church in Boca Raton, Florida. Two years later in 2002, we relocated there. In 2003 we heard about the “Toronto Blessing,” and we went to experience it at TACF in 2003 during a ‘Catch The Fire’ conference. Then we went back for more in the ‘Pastors and Leaders’ conference in January of 2004. Then we attended the ‘Prophetic Conference’ in June of 2004 and ultimately attended the month long ‘Leaders School’ there in July 2004.
Through experiencing the grace and love of our Heavenly Daddy at TACF, it is no wonder that Daddy desires to keep pouring out His intimate love there.
Sometimes people ask, “How did you ever come to the point of forgiving the shooters?” Forgiving someone of the crime that has left a 9MM bullet lodged in the frontal lobe of my brain, rendered me paralyzed on my left side needing a lower leg brace to walk adequately and on anti-seizure medication, only comes by God’s grace. My response is as the Apostle Paul’s, “Your grace is sufficient...”
My response is also that I am fully healed because I know the Healer and in Him all my faith rests. I trust that my Daddy knows what He is doing, that He will take care of Nancy and me as He desires and as He needs to. Nancy and I are high school sweethearts and this coming October we will celebrate 18 glorious years of marriage! Praise the Lord!
"Our desire is to show the world that all Daddy wants is His kids back."
We currently reside in northeast Georgia, oddly enough the same state where I was shot 14 years ago! It is interesting where the Lord leads sometimes!
I am authoring Christian action adventure books for youth called “Johnny Rocket and his Comrades in the Faith.” Books #1 and #2 have been published by Euro Destiny Image, and book #3 is on its way. The Lord gave me the mandate two years ago to write the series of seven books for young readers that are based on biblically sound morals and principles and that are able to captivate the readers’ God-given creative imaginations. The books proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Danger and sabotage follow Captain Johnny and his crew as they go on their intergalactic missions in search of the elusive liquid blue fuel (LBF). These books can be obtained online.
Our desire is to show the world that all Daddy wants is His kids back, which only happens through intimacy with Him. This is why we have created a non-profit foundation called Seeds of Love. The purpose of this foundation is to reach those that don’t know Daddy’s love through godly, creative expressions whether through the written or spoken word or through prophetic paintings. Nancy and I are always willing and honored to share our testimony of His love and grace as we have recently done locally and internationally. Thanks be to God who always leads us in victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!