Greetings, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ. My name is Dan Cook and I have been worshipping at Westminster since 1982.While that is not 150 years, it is a sizable portion thereof. My purpose is to bear witness through my testimony to the power of prayer and the Love of God in Christ Jesus as I have experienced it recently in my life.
Last December 14, 2022, I went into Ascension/St Thomas West Hospital for open-heart surgery. My condition was an Aneurysm of the Ascending Aorta, known as a AAA to the world of cardiology. My Aorta which comes out directly on top of the heart had ballooned and was dilated to 5.5cm (normally 4cm) and it was causing my heart to not properly pump my blood throughout my body. I was weak, short of breath, and my Drs told me that it needed to be repaired.
After being prepped for surgery, and prayer with my pastor, I was wheeled into an Operating Room greeted by several wonderful people who were skilled, talented, compassionate and determined to make me well. After administering anesthesia (the same thing that killed Michael Jackson) my body was chilled to 55 degrees, my chest was cut open, and my ribs spread out to expose my heart. Then, with the help of some amazing technology and machinery, my heart was stopped. I was then hooked up to a Heart/Lung machine for several hours while they installed a Dacron graft at the base of my Aorta to strengthen it.
When I awoke from the anesthesia, there were two more wonderful people yanking the tube out of my throat that had helped me breathe while they were operating. The only thing about this moment that was pleasant was the profound realization that I was alive. There were numerous tubes, of all sizes, running in and out of me and a symphony of beeping, clicking, and humming further giving me comfort and hope.
In this state you can only assume a single position, on your back. You are so weak that you cannot even lift a cup of water to your mouth. You cannot sleep so you just lie there listening to the machines and the intermittent company of the wonderful nurses. I was in the ICU for a week and was graced by several welcome visitors such as Donovan, Guy, and Heidi to name a few. Heidi brought me a “Healing Blanket” which is a humble piece of cotton/wool fabric with a hand-sewn border and a patch, sewn on by one of you beautiful women, with the WPC logo and the Jerusalem Cross on it. Heidi covered me with the blanket. Then, as God is my witness in this Holy place, I could FEEL your prayers. I could feel my cells mending. Some of you were praying for me, Sylvia, Amy, Rosemary, Kelly, Jim, Steve, and some of you who don’t even know me. I could feel your prayers and your Love, guided by The Holy Spirit, and this filled me with comfort and the Grace of our Savior overwhelmed my fears.
Last summer, while our beloved Donovan was taking awesome pictures of this beautiful world, Guy asked, “What’s it like to be prayed for?” I can tell you first-hand…it is knowing and feeling the presence of God in the midst of pain, doubt, grief, and despair. It is the sublime understanding that you are loved by others. It is believing without seeing. It is beautiful!
Therefore my testimony is simply to thank you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, from the bottom of my heart, and the top of my heart, for your prayers guided by Christ through the Holy Spirit, that has helped me to heal and become whole again.
10 days after my surgery, it was Christmas Eve and there was nowhere that I wanted to be except with you, My church, Your church, His Church, to celebrate the birth of our Savior and commune with his body and his blood, here at Westminster.
So finally, during the next 150 years, or at least for all that I have breath in my lungs, blood in my veins, and the Holy Spirit in my soul, I will be here with you. I will give my treasure, my time, my energy, my faith and my love to the mission of this Church, the mission of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.