Bringing the Word to Hospital

Several weeks ago my father suffered cardiac arrest, and was without oxygen for several minutes. Even so, the paramedics managed to resuscitate him and get him to hospital where he lay in a coma for 7 days. We, his children, were about to pull him off the ventilator but that 7th day he opened his eyes and seemed to be looking around. The doctors told us it was reflex action which it may well have been, but not being familiar with this state of consciousness, we decided to keep him on ventilation just in case this was the first sign of his return.

As a family, we limped from one decision to another — sometimes with angry words — and perhaps we should have let him “go.” After 2 weeks, the medical staff managed to wean him off ventilation (he was by now with a traech), and within 3 weeks he was in a ward room. We decided against a private room, because we felt that the presence of others would be good for him. For 2 weeks his roommate was Arnold, a 90 year old former boxer and truck driver, who had been through tough times. Every day, I’d ask Arnold if it was ok with him to read the Bible to dad, and he said oh yes, enthusiastically and when I’d stop, he asked me to continue. There were even times when Arnold appeared to be deep in thought, or praying.

Next came 83-year-old Arthur who neaerly wept when he heard the 23rd Psalm being read — he told us he hadn’t heard it since he was a child, and that he almost remembered it all.

Dad was then transfered to another hospital for palliative/continuing care. His roommate this time was a Sri Lankan man dying of cancer, who would cough-bellow every 7 or 8 minutes. But when I began to read — as much as 6 or 8 chapters at a time, taking upwards of 40 minutes — this man would be still. I mentioned it to the nurse who a few days later told me that while I read, the old man listened intently, and even seemed to be raising his hands in prayer. The man was a Buddhist.

Now that dad has been moved — and doesn’t have a roommate — the focus has reverted to him. We have gone through all the gospels, Corinthians, Romans, Ephesians, Psalms, and John a second time. This is like second nature to my father whose daily habit was about 2 hours of Bible reading. If anything registers, it would be that.Though he has no perceivable brain function, it is clear that he is aware at a heart and soul level, so what is being heard — and absorbed in much the same way as the eucharist — is the Word of God.

(Shared by one of our site visitors. If you wish to share your story about how God’s Word impacted your life, please write in the comment box below, or email info@biblesociety.ca)

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