by: Pastor John Leon, Executive Director
I will never forget that day. It was Sunday, May 6, 2018, when I received the phone call around 12:24pm that Andrew had jumped from the overpass adjacent to our shelter. It was at least a 150 ft. drop below to the Jackson St. pavement. I immediately drove to Corvallis Samaritan Hospital where he was taken. We did not know if he would live or die. I didn’t want him to be alone.
I had only met him ten days earlier when he checked in to the shelter, but because of his gentle nature, and though suffering with a mental affliction, he easily could get into anyone’s heart in a very short time. Those “inner voices” tormented him, causing him to jump. Andrew just wanted to go to heaven. He wanted relief from the mental anguish. But, God had a different plan.
When I first saw Andrew in the ICU, his injuries were severe. Both legs sustained multiple fractures. His pelvis was fractured. His right arm was broken in multiple places. Of course, the head injury was the worse. Though he was unconscious, the nurse reassured me he would be able to hear me. This was “new territory” for me. I was alone with Andrew that first day, but not alone. For I heard that familiar still, small voice, guide me, “I am going to do something special with Andrew!” Subsequently, I had a strong impression to read Scripture to him every day, and to not miss a day visiting him in his condition.
That Sunday night, I emailed our board requesting prayer for Andrew. My wife contacted our home church to pray for Andrew. Other churches began praying for Andrew. All our shelter guests were praying for Andrew. Later when I gave the first updated report to our board, and they inquired on his prognosis, I simply offered, “Let’s just see what Jesus will do!”
Andrew’s parents and I would periodically meet with his medical team. They had reason to be pessimistic as Andrew’s head injury was “catastrophic,” and he was not responding to normal commands during his 30-day stay in Corvallis. After seven surgeries, Andrew was transferred in early June to a “specialty” hospital in Portland that provided attention to his unique needs. Of course, I was going to miss our visits, due to the distance and my work schedule.
There wasn’t much change in Andrew’s status for the next several weeks. But then, I started getting reports there were some “marked changes.” Finally, after a couple of months, I was able to take dad up to see him for a visit. And, what a visit! Andrew was no longer in that “vegetative “condition. He was coherent. He was following commands. He knew everyone. He was eating regular food and had put on some weight. It was a challenge for all of us to control our emotions.
Though Andrew could respond with complete sentences, his answers were brief. To engage him, I asked him if he liked to read, and he said, “Yes.” “What do you like to read, Andrew?” He said, “The Bible.” He then shared the Gospels were his favorite and then recited word for word, completely by himself, that famous verse after I started it for him… “For God…so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son…” Andrew’s Dad and my eyes were glistening with joy and gratitude, for we knew we were witnessing a miracle.
Yes, Andrew still has a long journey ahead of him. He has yet to walk. Nevertheless, God is indeed doing “something” special with Andrew. You see, Andrew doesn’t hear those voices anymore. Andrew is free from such torment.
The year has been challenging, as God has been teaching me much about mental illness. But greater yet, God is teaching me what He is willing to do, if we will trust Him to do what only He can do for us. My friends, thank you for praying for Andrew’s recovery. Thank you for providing a financial pathway that sustains our mission and enables us to serve a person like Andrew. Truly, a living miracle of Albany Helping Hands!