My name is Larry Vaughn. I am privileged to be married to Lea. We were high school sweethearts, have been together since 1961, marrying in 1964, and raising two delightful sons. After 41 years of marriage, God led me through a six month living Hell while Lea was in Hartford Hospital with an illness that, medically, she wasn’t supposed to survive. More importantly, probably, I actually came out of that six month experience a stronger Christian than I went in.

The Hell I’m talking about is not some storybook or Hollywood contrived representation of Hades. This was Hell; the real one. You can touch Hell. It can touch you. You hear its haunting hushed whispers, strange noises throbbing off in the distance, and faint shadows moving all around you, just out of reach. Hell is so palpable you can actually taste it.

It is a much worse place to be than you have imagined. It was the most horrible thing I have ever experienced, and I certainly don’t want to ever have to go back there.

Let me try to describe my Hell; yours may be different. Mine was a small, dimly lit, musty room with carpet so filthy I hesitated to walk on it barefoot. It had an outdated motel style bed & dresser, flimsy wooden desk with loose-jointed chair, fold-out couch that makes into a bed, coffee table, and a small under-counter refrigerator. Oh, yes, there was a portable television on which I could watch programs in a language I don’t understand.

The room was attached by a series of dimly lit underground tunnels to another sterile room, some distance away, where the person I most love in the whole world was being drugged and subjected to the most incredulous torture I could imagine. I was allowed in the room to be with her at various times, but she was not able to respond to me in any way because she was in a drug induced coma.

She may not, really, have known I was there at all. I realized even then, as I looked at her lying helplessly there, this may only be her body, kept alive with drugs and machines. She may already be gone. She was in this state for 78 days, and certainly could have been taken away from me at any moment. Nothing I did to comfort or help her appeared to make a difference, because she was unable to respond or react.

And, the worst of it is the knowledge that she was completely innocent, and probably went through that experience because of me. I believe her illness was caused by my pride and stubbornness, and was discipline my heavenly Father used to get me to focus on what is really important, and get my life in order.

Let me explain. I remember my childhood as being mostly about church activities, cub scouts and boy scouts. I was taught to be independent and self reliant while respectful; thorough and dependable while considerate. That’s the way children were raised in those days. To be very much like a Boy Scout; “Do my duty to God and my country, and to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent”.

I was raised in a strict Southern Baptist family with a generations-long line of bible thumping fire-and-brimstone preachers who pastored churches and taught in summertime revival tents. It seemed to me that most of the family’s time was spent at church functions; Sunday School and Sunday church services, morning and evening, with a big family lunch in between.

The memory of those meals still renews the vision of crispy fried chicken, mashed potatoes with cream gravy, green beans and ham, biscuits and iced tea. There was always lively discussion and much joviality in the family fellowship on Sundays. It was a weekly family party.

Monday nights I attended Royal Ambassadors, a Bible-centered organization for boys in grades 1-6. Tuesday was Cub Scouts, and in later years, Boy Scouts, Wednesday was Bible Study, and Thursday night was visitation of the sick and those who requested special prayer.

When my sons were very young, Lea and I transferred our membership from the church where she was baptized to a startup church that was moving mightily in our community. The charismatic young Baptist pastor had a vision to create an entire Baptist campus which would include a retirement home for retired members of the church, and he was very aggressive in reaching out to young people in the community. Over time I became so excited about this church’s mission and growth that I was on the verge of joining their ministry. And, I almost did.

The minister had met with me several times urging me to become involved full time in the ministry of the church. I had been quite successful in soliciting donations of cash and property to the church in support of the building program. Prospects for the church’s success looked very promising. Support from the community was outstanding, and the membership grew rapidly. A large treasury made it apparent that we were going to be able to build that church community quite soon. It was a wonderful feeling to see God’s favor flowing on our church.

Then, overnight, the minister, his family, and the entire church staff, disappeared with all of the church funds! They did it legally, and there was no chance of the congregation recovering any of the loss. I was totally crushed. I just could not believe that such a thing could happen! I felt God had abandoned us.

I was completely mortified and humiliated that such a thing could happen. I was too embarrassed to return to our former church, and just could not bring myself to join any other. In fact, I shunned the church for many years.

Dejected and disillusioned, I reasoned that I could minister on my own without joining a church. I felt that I could set a good example for my sons and for others around me, by professing my religion when called upon, and by keeping God in our home. I used as my justification, Matthew 18:20, in which Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” This faulty reasoning let Satan drive a wedge between us and turn me from service in the church.

Scripture is very clear that you cannot accept Christ and then just live any way you please. And, God, our heavenly Father, takes our obligation to serve Him seriously. Like our earthly father, He will often let us stray a bit to test the boundaries, as children will do, just to see what we can get away with. Eventually, though, scripture tells us that He will bring us back into line by taking us to the woodshed for a good, corrective, spanking if necessary.

The NIV Life Application Study Bible explains Hebrews 12:-6 as, “The Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.” This is the same action taken by any loving parent who has to take drastic corrective action to protect their child from serious, life-altering, mistakes.

The NIV Life Application Study Bible explains it like this: God is not only a disciplining parent, but also a demanding coach who pushes us to our limits and requires our lives to be disciplined. Although we may not feel strong enough to push on to victory, we will be able to accomplish it as we follow Christ and draw on His strength. Then we can use our growing strength to help those around us who are weak and struggling.

In other words, get stronger, don’t be crushed by discipline. Embrace it! We must not live with only our own survival in mind. Others will notice us and follow our example, and we have a responsibility to them if we are living for Christ. Our society needs to have strong examples in it! We as God’s people must demonstrate to the world the right kind of example, so they will take our walk with God seriously!

Discipline may not be something we feel like shouting “hallelujah” over as we experience it, but it produces more fruit in our lives, and often in the lives of others who watch us. God loves us too much to let us do just anything we want! He saved us from sin and also saves us from ourselves! And, He leads us to witness for Him.

I want you to know that I believe, as surely as I’m writing this, in the power of prayer. I saw it work; I could FEEL it working, while I was at Lea’s bedside for all those months!

I believe in the power of individual prayer, and in the awesome authority and power of group prayer;

I believe that God heals naturally; and I also believe that God heals supernaturally;

I believe that God heals instantaneously; and sometimes He heals in His own time;

I believe that He heals through medicine, and I also believe God heals through miracles.

I thank God for our doctors and caregivers, and rejoice that I have seen Him heal beyond the doctors’ art.

I know some very fine folks in the medical field, and it thrills my heart to know that while these are people of science, many are also our spiritual brothers and sisters in prayer. They pray for God to do what they themselves cannot do. Glory to God!

I can scarcely think of anything that was more gratifying to me than when Dr John Mah, Lea’s surgeon in Hartford, started wearing a gold cross over his scrubs. When he leaned over Lea to work on her, his cross dangled from his neck over her body. And, it gave me peace. Praise God!

We saw supernatural healing performed in Hartford time and time again. If you followed the daily email updates, you know that on more than one occasion while Lea was in a coma her surgeons said they couldn’t explain the healing she had experienced. Chief Surgeon Orlando Kirton said they “rejoiced” when they saw the amount of healing that had miraculously occurred!

Prayer is a very powerful force, and I believe that His children in prayer chains, even though they may be spread around the world, can bring about miracles. I believe that I have seen miracles worked in Lea’s healing that her doctors could not explain. It was about the second time the surgeons made the statement that they couldn’t explain the healing that I noticed Dr Mah wearing his cross.

A highly respected Christian teacher, Pastor Andrew Murray, said this about prayer: “In relation to his people, God works only in answer to their prayer.” Now, that’s a big statement: (God works in answer to prayer of His people.) And then he said, “In prayer we change our natural strength for the supernatural strength of God.” We change our natural strength for the supernatural strength of God.

I thank God for bringing me back into the fold, and for restoring Lea to a healthful state. I rejoice, and give thanks, for every day we share together, because I know that each and every day is a very special gift from my loving Father.

Lea and I welcome the opportunity to share our testimony with believers and non-believers alike, because we have a very powerful story to tell about the mystery of His healing power and how His hand worked so mightily in healing lives throughout the world. We have rededicated our lives to His service, and give Him the glory for the ministry He has placed
before us.

We think of our websites as tools to spread the good news of God’s love and His plan for each of us. We pray that our experiences will continue to bring new visitors into a closer relationship with Him, and lead them to re-examine their personal and family relationships to fix those things that may be broken in their lives. We saw it happen while we were in Hartford, and we are confident that God will continue to use us to reach others with the good news of His love.

God disciplines His children to make us strong so that we can complete our individual ministries as witnesses for His plan of salvation. Hebrews 12: 12-13, describes our responsibility to be examples for others: “Therefore, take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong.” (NIV)

Life choices are full of consequences, good and bad. Discipline helps steer us toward making the right choices that bring life, not death! This is God’s primary goal in giving discipline to His erring children. . . . to teach and guide! God is never unfair! He tests us and tries us so that the world can have godly examples to notice and so the world can witness the strength of righteousness!

The best practice available to us is communicating with Him and seeking His will for us every single day. He already has a plan for our lives. The plan has been in place since the beginning of time. We, as prideful children trying to be the best we can be, sometimes go astray in thinking that we don’t need Him or His church to help us get through life successfully. Protect yourself from taking this false path! Make prayer a part of every single day, opening yourself to conversation with Him, listening for what He is saying to you. It can save you from your own personal Hell.

Our testimony, given live, can be heard on the church’s website on demand.

 

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