We had just returned from a week-long adventure at Camp Barakel. I was the junior camp speaker for that exciting and beautiful Northern Michigan camp. I loved to speak at camps when my kids were little. We played box hockey, tetherball, swam, canoed, fished and ate great camp food each day of the glorious warm week of summer camp in Northern Michigan.
Then we packed all our luggage, pillows, sleeping bags, books, and fishing gear into our tiny Ford Escort station wagon and began the long drive down-state. The kids and Kim slept the entire trip back to our sleepy subdivision in Livonia, Michigan. I carried my first load of camping gear into our home as the phone rang. I am the type to answer the phone no matter what is happening. So I obediently dropped the luggage and answered the phone.
It was the voice of a young man calling me from Alaska. He was the only son of my next door neighbors. An alarm exploded in my mind as he began to talk, but to my surprise he was thanking me. He was expressing his thankfulness for rescuing his mom Dorothy from certain doom the previous day. Dorothy had accidentally wrapped a vacuum cord around her leg while vacuuming her basement on Friday. She had fallen and broken a hip and lay helplessly in her ranch’s basement. Her husband John, a retired Detroit cop, was almost deaf and blind and did not know that his loving wife was in great danger in the basement. He was confined to a bed because an awful inflection in his leg had created the need for a full leg amputation.
I had supposedly come over the day before and opened up the home using the hidden key, found Dorothy, called for help and gotten my sweet old neighbor to the hospital. I was too shocked to argue with a grateful son. I told him I would check on his parents- now!
Kim and I had cared for our neighbors ever since we moved in beside the old gal and her disabled husband. Dorothy had a disease called Addison’s disease. This disease often made her weak. So we would rake her leaves, shovel the driveway, sometimes buy their groceries and try to be a blessing to our neighbors. She would return the love with warm cookies and candy for the kids every time they were out-doors. Because of this close relationship, I knew where the hide a key was located and would often check in on our neighbor.
I burst out the front door and rang the door-bell on the white-brick ranch. There was no answer. So I located the hide a key and hustled inside the home. I called for Dorothy and John. I went to John’s bed and found him safe in bed. Through his blurry eyes he recognized me and began to express his thanks for my many deeds of kindness. You cannot argue with a well-aged blind, deaf man. I discovered that I had been very busy the day before, because I had even arranged for home care for John while his wife was at the hospital. I had at least two-hundred junior camp witnesses from all over the state of Michigan that could testify that I was at Camp Barakel on the day of my act of heroism.
I went home and told Kim the story and then jumped into my little Ford, which was still filled with camp stuff and rushed to Grace Hospital in Detroit. I sped down Six Mile Road into the busy city of Detroit. I parked my ride and hurried into the huge hospital. I found Dorothy in the ICU; she did have a broken hip and had just come out of a long surgery that morning. Her Addison’s disease made the healing from this accident that much more difficult.
She smiled when we saw each other. We had that unusual type of love that loving neighbors have for each other. She began to thank me for the rescue. She expressed how she did not know what she would have done without me. I tried to explain that this rescue was done without me. She dismissed every thing I said as me not trying to take any credit for anything I do. Well, I had often snuck into her yard and shoveled her driveway and tried to disappear before she would know that I was there. She also said that no one has a voice like yours and she may have been in shock but shock does not cover that voice. You cannot argue with your old neighbor in ICU.
Then the Holy Spirit hit me upside the head. Witness to Dorothy! Now, is the time, the Spirit yelled into my soul. Dorothy was a great neighbor and she knew I was a youth pastor. However, she stopped all conversation when I tried to enter the spiritual zone. However, her spiritual ears were open. In that old down-town Detroit hospital, I quoted her, Colossians 1:13, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Dorothy had been closed in the past to all spiritual conversation. Suddenly, in ICU she was an open door very willing to talk about her spiritual destiny and her relationship with Jesus. In that quiet hospital room one old gal and her young youth pastor neighbor prayed together and the angels rejoiced!
After this event, I could not tell others about what happened. My mind was struggling with the impossibility of it all. My very conservative Christian roots struggled with such stories of miracles. Yet, I was part of a huge neighborhood miracle. I have always wanted to be the man that rescued the damsel in distress from danger but instead I have my own stories of being rescued. I do not know who led that rescue. It was not me but I have learned to accept the credit on the behalf of an all powerful God. It may have been an angel that looked and sounded like me. That is a scary thought! Another idea is that I have a twin that knew where the hide a key was hidden and conducted a rescue on my behalf. Since, mom never told me about that twin, I decided to investigate. I asked all the other neighbors about that day and what happened and every neighbor pointed back to me as the hero.
My new sister in the Lord, after returning home wanted to give my name to the fire-department in Livonia for a good-neighbor award. I discouraged her from that action by expressing how embarrassed I would be for accepting a reward for an act done in kindness. Trust me, God heard her cry for “Help” not me. He had a huge plan of rescuing both her life and her soul. I’m thankful that I was part of the eternal rescue.