God bless you.
As I ponder a Oct. 26 surgical date with a heart pump, I do so with added hope after
a wonderful weekend of good news from two families, whose loved ones were helped by
the God-blessed modern medical technology of organ transplantation.
First, there is Jessie Ramirez' family on Chicago's southwestside. For months,
Tomas and his sister Patty have been begging me to come to their home to break bread
and to hear` how the transplantation of a heart pump gave them and their father, Jessie,
a retired butcher, a lifetime of joy by adding four extra years to his life.
Second, there is the family of my dear friend, Rev. Gregory Macon. His wife of 40
years, Vaughn, shouted to high heavens when his six-year wait was rewarded with a new
kidney. When I led her in prayer over the phone, after she had made me one of the first
to receive the good news, she shouted the way my dear mother, Sarah Loraine Banks,
used to shout over this kind of good news and the joy of the Lord.
I felt good for both families and led both in prayer thanking God for blessing
mankind with the medical breakthroughs that are enabling us to live longer. After all,
all our help comes from the Lord. Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down
from above, down from the Lord of lights, in whom there is no variableness, neither
shadow of turning.
After years of high blood pressure and diabetes that mutated into end-stage
congestive heart failure, Jessie, at age 60, was so weak he could hardly get out of
his easy chair in front of the giant-screen living-room TV and walk to the front door 17
Doctors told him, he was a dying man who could only be saved by a heart pump
because he had gotten too weak from his multiple health issues to receive a heart
transplant. Faced with the gruesome alternative, it was a no-brainer for Jessie to choose
the pump because he just had too much to live for.
First, there was his lovely wife of some 40 years, Maria, who has the face of an
angel and a demeanor to match. Quiet, charming and graced with the smooth olive-hued
skin of a baby, she had been his primary caregiver, his best friend, the mother of his
children, the apply of his eye and the spice of his life.
Second, there were his children: sons Tomas, Marco and Jessie Jr., and daughters
Patty, Sandra and Kristina.
Third, there was his other relatives headed by his sister-in-law Chila, who has been
Maria's support system whenever she was wearied by the weight of her husband's
Fourth, there was the promise of seeing a grandchild or two, every father's dream.
"His will to live was greater than his fear of death," Tomas said. "He loved his
family dearly and he longed to bounce a grandchild on his knees before leaving this
world. He fought like heck. He was a warrior. We all love him so and will forever miss
The pump added four more years to Jessie's life.
"But they were precious years we enjoyed with our father," Patty said. "The pump
restored a lot of his strength and his vitality, He'd get up and go out for walks. He could
not keep still. And we were happy to see him enjoy life again."
Those four years were even more precious for Jessie, too, because it was during
that time that his children gave him two grandsons, three-year-old Stefano (Tomas' boy)
and two-year-old Christopher (Patty's boy), who are both thrust a couple of months apart.
When I walked into Jessie's home to enjoy dinner, I felt the warmth of his loving
spirit for his family still thick in the air. I felt also the afterglow of his family's love for him.
This mutual passion was so perfect and palpable.
First, the family answered a variety of questions I had about the pump, how Jessy
adjusted to it, how his care became a whole family affair and not just Maria's job, how
he reveled in holding his grandkids and other things.
After an hour, we retired to the dinning room where Maria served up a delicious
dish of pozole, a rich soup of hominy grits with vegetables and chucks of beef. Hmmmm.
La comida estaba muy deliciosa! Afterward, I wolfed down a slice of pie.
Then Patty closed the show and brought down the house with a 15-minute DVD
of family photos that invited me to journey down the family's memory lane and enjoy
photos of Jessie and Maria from the time there were teenage lovers in Ocoplan, Jalisco
in Mexico, through their beautiful church wedding, through a slew of joyful family
reunions and picnics. It touched my heart so deeply, the profound sense of family of the
Ramirez household, that I had to see the DVD twice. Patty obliged.
It was a chilly, rainy night outside. But a lot of warm sunshine pulsated inside that
house. I felt honored to be in the midst of such a lavish family love nest.
The very next morning, Saturday, Oct. 3, Mrs. Macon phoned me with the good
news. Rev. Macon has been through a lot of health challenges. But he never let them
get the best of him. A couple of times, he collapsed into a coma while out of town
running a revival. You, see, Rev. Macon is one of those old-school Baptist preacher,
steeped in the whooping tradition forged by the promethean likes of Rev. C. L.
Franklin, Rev. Caesar W. Clark, Rev. Clay Evans, Rev. Donald Parson, Rec. Leo
Daniels, Rev. L. L. Laws, Rev. Jasper Williams, Rev. Johnny Miller and Rev. Gordon H.
He preaches with power an aerobic athleticism until he is lathered with sweat and
saints are shouting like crazy and demons are screaming for mercy and the devil is
screaming, "Ouch! That hurts! Ouch!" Rev. Macon's kind of preaching with grow hair on
a bald-headed man, make a bulldog hug a hound and make a sinner repent and become
Six years, he waited diligently and often painfully. Six years, he underwent dialysis
three times a week. Six years, he had his blood washed almost 1,000 times. Six years
he endured needles and pills and bills for his ills. But six years, he and his prayer
partners never gave up hope. The switchboard in heaven stayed busy 24-7 with prayers
of the righteous being offered up on Macon's behalf.
In my mind, I can hear angelic operators saying, "My, my, my. That Rev. Macon
and Jessy Ramirez' family sure have a lot of prayer partners."
Before I let you know, I want you all to know that God is still answering prayers.
God is still saving to the utmost. God is still delivering. God is still feeding and leading.
God is still fighting the battle for the underdogs and the downtrodden all around the
world. God is still in the healing and blessing business. Just ask the Ramirez and
Macon families. Their souls are a witness for my Lord.
And right now, wherever you are and regardless of what you're going through, if
you drop down on your knees and prayer the prayer of faith asking in Jesus' name, God
will hear and answer prayer. I love Him. I trust Him. any way He wants to heal me is
alright with me.
God bless you.