By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ST LANDRY – Pastor Jerry Adams’ life almost ended in December when he was forced into a medically-induced coma.
But a merciful God – implored by the prayers of thousands in Louisiana and around the world – granted Adams a miraculous return to the pulpit at Centerville Baptist Church in St. Landry, only four months later, he told the Baptist Message.
COMMON SICKNESS TO COMA
“It’s been a long hard process coming back,” Adams said. “God does have a plan for our life but it isn’t what we always want. It’s always for our best.”
Adams’ near-death experience began when a painful and persistent sore throat caused him to visit the emergency room at St. Francis Cabrini Hospital in Alexandria Dec. 1, being admitted shortly afterward.
Days later, he was placed into a coma after his vitals plummeted following a tracheotomy, and was kept in this state of unconsciousness for 10 days. Physicians told Adams’ family to prepare to say their final good-byes Dec. 13.
Determined not to give up, family and friends joined hands and sought God’s grace.
“We began to pray for peace and God’s will alone,” said Josh Adams, the son of Jerry Adams and also pastor of Pisgah Baptist Church in Forest Hill. “It seems in that moment, peace was overwhelming. From the day we were told to call in the family and we placed Dad in God’s hands for His will to be done, Dad got just a little bit better each day.”
Miraculously, his condition improved from doubtful to hopeful, but he remained in the hospital for a month total.
PHYSICAL THERAPY, SPIRITUAL REMEDY
Adams moved on to his next phase of recovery at Riverside Hospital in Alexandria, remaining there from Dec. 23 to Feb. 3. While there, he was weaned off a ventilator and put on oxygen, but he continued to have no motor function in his limbs.
To help him regain use of his arms and legs, he was transferred to HealthSouth Rehabilitation in Alexandria, staying Feb. 3 to March 17, when he was finally able to return home.
A former Vietnam War veteran, Adams called his time at the rehabilitation hospital the hardest of his life.
“I got to a point where one day at Riverside I didn’t want to live like I could without possibly being able to function on my own,” Adams said. “I begged God to heal me by bringing me home.
“I started feeling sorry for myself,” he continued. “But God reminded me it’s not about me; it’s about Him. There were people all around me who needed the Lord and His love. I told Him that if he could help me talk and walk again, I would come back and work for Him.”
After his conversation with God, Adams almost immediately was able to talk again. For the next few weeks, he steadily improved, returning to the pulpit March 19. His goal is to forgo use of his wheelchair during his messages and instead use a walker for support.
Adams said a supportive church was helpful during his return to Centerville Baptist Church, which averages between 35 and 50 worshipers for Sunday morning services.
During his absence, the congregation visited him at the hospital and his home, prayed with him and brought the family meals. They even put up a “Welcome Home” sign behind the pulpit during his first Sunday back at the church.
“They told us not to worry about anything, that if it took a year for me to come back, they would be waiting on me,” he said. “It’s been a long, hard journey but God has been so good and gracious to us.
“I don’t know why God has allowed this to happen to me, but he’s lit a fire in me,” he continued. “God put me on my back and I have a fresh fire. I want people to know Jesus as the Lord of their life.”
FAITH & FAMILY
The preacher’s son Josh Adams said the faith of others was evident during the ordeal, such as his mom who never stopped believing God would heal her husband.
“She continued to pray for his return home,” he said. “I believed she wasn’t listening. I prayed for God to ease her mind about the things to come. Our church prayed, and I shared my heart with them about the matter. But mom never lost faith that God could make it happen.”
Josh Adams said his father, although unable to speak clearly, continued to minister to those he encountered.
“There were moments of doubt throughout the journey,” he said. “I had become numb. Dad would ask me questions, not with words because he couldn’t speak, but by mouthing his lips or pointing to letters and I really didn’t have the answers. I struggled with matters and longed to speak with my father and receive his wisdom, yet I feared I would never get that opportunity again. Yet, all the while God was working behind the scenes to provide a testimony through my dad that could reach the heart of so many people.”
In the end, Josh Adams said the difficult situation unified his family and the church and provided an avenue for God to show up.
“There is no doubt in my mind that God reached down and changed the outcome in my dad’s life, not for my dad, not for us, but to glorify His kingdom and it has,” he said. “God has been moving in that church for years, and the test of their strength and faith in God has shown up in how they have responded through this crisis. I believe God will be glorified in that church and community in ways we have not yet seen.
“My own faith has been strengthened through this adversity,” he continued. “I was able to praise God in this storm with the church I serve and now that we are on the other side, the victory is that much sweeter. God deserves all the glory for He has done. But can I just say that even if God had chosen to take my dad home, God would still deserve all the glory.”