“I remember praying and just saying, 'Lord, did we do something wrong?'" asked Melanie Fox.
September 11, 2021 was supposed to be a celebration – the day Melanie Fox was to get married. Instead, her 56-year-old fiancé, Michael, was in a hospital bed fighting for his life. Their meeting and engagement had been an answer to prayer, one she now doubted.
“Do you not want us to get married? I was starting to question everything, and I said, 'Lord, do you not love us anymore?'"
Two weeks before the wedding, Michael had contracted Covid. Within days he was in the hospital with double pneumonia and his oxygen levels had plummeted. According to the doctor’s report his was “…an extremely unfortunate situation with evidence of continued worsening.”
Melanie said, “The pulmonologist did come in one day and he just kind of stood at the end of the bed and shook his head. And I just looked at him and I said, 'It's not good, is it?' And he said, 'No.' And he said, 'I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but you may want to let his family know that this looks pretty hopeless at this point.'"
Michael’s oldest son, Robbie, saw it differently. He was one of the many who filled the hospital waiting room, praying for his dad.
“I knew he would walk out of there. I knew at the beginning he would,” recalled Robbie.
However, things would only get worse. Over the coming week, Michael would have a stroke and develop sepsis – the leading cause of death in hospitals. Then, his kidneys began to shut down. Even after several rounds of antibiotics, nothing was working.
Melanie said, “And I know that you said, Lord, that we would be together. So, I don't understand. I’m just empty.”
Then, another setback. As medical staff were prepping Michael for dialysis, one of his lungs collapsed. Trying to avoid putting him on a ventilator, they decided first to increase his oxygen and wait to see if that would work. Melanie and Michael’s youngest son, 28-year-old, John, were waiting in the hallway.
Melanie said, “He looked at me and he said, 'My dad needs a miracle.' And I said, 'Yes, he does.' And I said, 'John, why don't you ask God to give him that miracle?' And so, he just looked up and he said, 'God, my dad, he really needs a miracle right now.'"
Outside, the hospital parking lot was filled with people also believing for a miracle.
Robbie said, “Cause God has the final say. Doctors are great. They've really helped a lot. And their hands are guided, but they don't always have the final say in things.”
Within the hour, Michael’s oxygen levels had risen and his lung re-inflated, so he didn’t need a vent. Not only that, his kidneys began to recover.
Melanie said, “They said he doesn't need the dialysis. His markers are up, he's good, everything's great. And even the sepsis is gone.”
Soon after, they were able to bring Michael out of sedation. But he wasn’t waking up and doctors cautioned the family about getting their hopes up. The stroke could have long term, serious consequences.
“And I remember just looking up and saying, 'Lord, I don't know what's going on and I don't understand, but I trust you,'" said Melanie.
Finally, Michael woke up. His first words? The same ones he’d said to Melanie right after he was admitted to the hospital.
“I said, 'You're going to look beautiful in your wedding dress.' Cause I knew number one, that I was going to see that because the Lord showed it to me. But I also knew that that would bring comfort to her,” said Michael.
Melanie said, “I thought, okay, Lord, he said I was going to be beautiful in my dress, so I know that he's going to make it through.”
Michael began to improve and eventually went into rehab. He had been in the hospital 43 days when he was discharged. Although it would take months of rehab to overcome the effects of his stroke - there was one thing he wasn’t waiting for.
Michael said, “I had a lot of challenges because I came home in a wheelchair, and I could barely get from the car to the wheelchair. And so, that was on October the 12th, I believe. And on October the 17th, I determined I was going to walk down the aisle to marry my wife.”
And he did. With prayer and rehab, Michael has fully recovered. The happy couple and their families are enjoying every minute they have together, thankful for the miracle God has given them.
Michael said, “I had a lot of people praying for me. And, I'm going to tell you that prayer was, was heard by the Lord. I know, I know it was, cause it not only gave me strength, it gave Melanie strength.”
“He's always there,” Robbie said. “God's got us, even in the hardest times.”
"He says, 'He'll never leave us, He'll never forsake us,'" said Melanie. “So even if it looks like it's just hopeless, and it's the end, and it's going to be over and done, you know that He's not going to leave you. He's not going to forsake you.”
When Mrs. Zhou found out she was going to have a baby, she went to see a shaman.
“He put rice, an egg, and money in a bowl and began chanting that my child would have plenty of food, health, and wealth,” Mrs. Zhou recalls.
Yet soon after Jingchen was born, he got sick.
“He started vomiting, and his diaper was covered in blood. I was terrified,” Mrs. Zhou confesses. “The local doctors just gave him treatment for his bowel. But a week later, Jingchen wasn’t better.”
Mrs. Zhou returned to the shaman.
“He had us kill some chickens and said they would take the devil's curse meant for Jingchen,” she remembers.
After this, things got worse. There was no bowel movement, and as Jingchen lost weight, his stomach got more bloated.
Mrs. Zhou shares, “Jingchen’s breathing got weak, and I started wondering if the gods really existed and heard me.”
Mrs. Zhou contacted her husband who works out of town, and he told her to bring Jingchen to a city hospital for help.
“The doctor there said he had an obstruction at the beginning of the large intestine, and he had an infection,” reports Mrs. Zhou.
Without surgery, Jingchen could die. So, the Zhous tried to borrow money for an operation, but they came up short.
Mrs. Zhou shares, “I cried and said, ‘Baby, there's nothing we can do to save you.’”
Then a doctor told the Zhous about Operation Blessing.
“He said Operation Blessing is a charity that specializes in helping needy families,” exclaims Mrs. Zhou. I saw on the application, and it said, ‘Give help, bring hope’, and right then, I had hope.”
You helped make it possible for Jingchen to get surgery.
“Now he can eat and digest food normally. He’s gained weight and has lots of strength,” Mrs. Zhou expresses. She concludes, “An Operation Blessing volunteer prayed for Jingchen. She said there’s a God who loves my baby and our family. He doesn't seem to be like the gods we know. He died for us. I don't understand it all yet, but I know his name is Jesus. I really appreciate the Operation Blessing donors for helping my baby. Now Jingchen can grow up healthy, and our lives are full of sunshine.”
“I didn't desire to go to prison. I wasn't eight years old and raised my hand in school and said, 'Hey, I want to go to prison when I get older.' Or, 'Hey, I want to be a drug addict when I get older,'" said Stephen Dees. His drug-addicted parents were unable to care for him, leaving him in orphanages and foster homes.
During this time, he experienced everything from going to church to sexual abuse. “There was a man who sexually assaulted me at the age of 13 and that's when I caught my first felony. I was a very angry, upset young man and I ended up burning the house down,” said Stephen.
He spent the next three years in detention, a psych hospital, and a group home. He was released at age 16 and two years later made a terrible decision.
“Me and this other guy, we went up there to break into this house and steal this money,” said Stephen. “And when we did, there was some people home. We ended up tying the people up and robbing the people. And it was an aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and a kidnapping charge instead of just a B&E or a burglary. I went to Mansfield, Ohio. I was 18 years old. And that was my first introduction to the penal system. I deserved it. I know I did. I pled guilty. I never tried to fight it. Admitted what I had done was wrong. But that was – a hard time in my life.” He survived six miserable years in prison.
When he was released, he hoped for a better life. He went to welding school and his girlfriend at the time had a baby. “I can remember the day she was born,” said Stephen. “That was probably the happiest day of my life. You know, because I'd never had a child before and I never thought I could have children. I didn't really think that that kind of life was for me, you know, but that day in my mind I could see myself being a good father, being a good husband, good provider, and a good protector.”
Stephen was excited about his new life and then tragedy struck. “She was born on March 14th and she passed away on April 21st. She had lived five weeks. She had passed away in our bed. Woke up one morning and she just wasn't breathing,” Stephen says with tears. “I think I developed a resentment and a bitterness towards God at that moment. Not denying Him. You can't see a child be born and deny God. I couldn't, but I was angry at God. And so, I started working a lot of hours to cover up the pain. But then somebody introduced me to methamphetamine and that killed every pain I had physically, spiritually, and emotionally. And that took me down a long road.”
Stephen soon became a full-time drug addict, making, using, and selling meth. On a three-week long binge, he violently assaulted two people, sending them to the hospital. “After they arrested me, they took me to jail and I was talking to my lawyer and she pulled out the pictures and the statements. And I can't believe I became a man that would do something like that to somebody else. And she told me I was looking at 30 years in prison. Aggravated assault with deadly weapons times two. It's an automatic 15 years a piece. I was 40 years old. I had a lot of bitterness, a lot of anger. Just couldn't stand the person I had become. I hated living the lifestyle that I was living,” said Stephen. “I don't want to go to jail. I don't want to go back to prison. I'd rather die. I think those were my thoughts in that cell when it was a man that came in there and said, 'Hey Stephen, why don't you go to church with me tonight?'"
Even though he still had bitterness towards God, Stephen attended chapel in the jail. That night he heard about true hope. “I'm getting ready to face 30 years in prison and they're going to preach to me about a hell? To me, there's no reality in that. What I'm living is hell right now. But this man says that there was a man named Jesus who came down from heaven, who died on the cross, so I no longer have to live in hell,” said Stephen. “I'm like, 'Okay, I don't have to live like this no more? You mean things can change for me?' It just piqued my curiosity. So I gave my life to the Lord that night.”
That night, he prayed and asked God to help the people he hurt to get off drugs and for mercy on his case. “Within a week, man I called my lawyer back and all my charges had been dropped down to misdemeanor charges. To me, that was a divine intervention. From the places I've been, the things that I've done, sitting in the courtrooms before, I've never caught no breaks. I think that's when I started believing that maybe God did love me. Maybe he did care about me. Maybe somehow, someway through all this, He reached down and did something and started stirring something inside of me. I started reading the Bible more and I started talking to Him more.”
Stephen's life radically changed through an 18-month recovery and discipleship program. Today he is now part of their pastoral staff, along with his wife. Stephen smiles and says, “He's the reason I'm alive today. He's the reason that I have a motivation to help others. I want to be who I am today. With Jesus, He went out and He went to go reach that 1 out in 99 of the least of these. I feel like if that's what He did, that's what we should be doing. My evangelist heart is because of the Lord. I want to go out and see that one last one person saved. I want to go into the jails and the prisons and the other places where people don't want to go because I believe that God wants to reach those people. I believe that's what Jesus is to me. That's the heart that's inside of me. It's the heart of Jesus.”
Discover more about the ministry where Stephen serves at here: www.TruePurposeMinistries.com.
For a long time, Peter and his brother, Emmanuel, searched for a place of refuge. They grew up in a Muslim family, and when their father converted to Christianity, they too put their faith in Christ, but it came at a great cost.
Peter explained, “When my uncles learned my father became a Christian, they killed him. As Christians, we knew Jesus is the only way to heaven. So, we left, because we couldn’t go back to Islam after what happened.”
Emmanuel said, “We want to follow God. We want to know Him better. That’s why we left.”
Peter said, “I prayed that if God is really calling me to follow Him, and if He will protect us and guide us, I will serve Him for the rest of my life. With all the dangers along the way, nothing happened to us.”
In the city, someone told them about Christian Faith Ministries, which is supported in part by CBN’s Orphan’s Promise. Here, they found a place to call home, and have all their needs provided for as they attend school and continue to grow in their faith.
“I really believe God guided us here,” said Peter. “By God’s grace, I’m getting a good education. My brother and I study together, and if he doesn’t understand something, he’ll come to me, so I can help him.”
In their free time, they often play ping pong and other games, and they have the chance to simply be kids.
Emmanuel said, “This is a refuge for me and my brother. Not everyone gets the chance that God has given us. I love it here. I know God better here than I did before. On Sundays and Wednesdays, we attend church. I always pray for my family, so they will become Christians and follow Jesus like we do.”
Peter explained, “The leaders here taught me about forgiveness, and that unforgiveness is no different than carrying a heavy load. In forgiving, I can leave what happened in the past behind me and look forward to the good things ahead. Thank you for helping me and my brother, and for your protection. Without you, we would not be here. May God bless you and provide you with everything you need.”
CBN’s impact around the world
Daily prayers for people across the country
CBN’s prayer team prayed with over 1.2 million callers in 2022 alone, while also praying with people through email, social media channels, live chat on the website, and written correspondence.
Highlighting testimonies of God’s faithfulness
Vida Dura or “Hard Life” stories are sourced throughout Latin America and produced in Spanish to reach a region with testimonies of people who hit rock bottom and turn to God for change. CBN has a prayer center in Latin America to support people through prayer and faith resources.
Serving in the wake of natural disasters
CBN's Operation Blessing was on the ground quickly in the wake of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey, providing much-needed food, relief supplies, and medical aid. After large-scale natural disasters, Operation Blessing strives to be the first to arrive, and the last to leave, tending to the needs long after the news cameras leave.
Ukraine and Poland
For 30 years, CBN has been serving the people of Ukraine
Through CBN’s Orphan’s Promise and Operation Blessing, we were able to quickly provide valuable resources soon after the conflict began, and we continue to support Ukrainian refugees.
Projected 135 million* watched a CBN program in 2022
CBN partners are reaching children around the world with the Gospel of Jesus through Superbook, a Bible-based animation series. In 2022 alone, children in 139 countries watched at least one episode of Superbook.
Bible Reading for the Day
Read or listen to today's Old and New Testament Bible readings. Each day is portioned to give the entire Bible to you in a year. Start anytime. Scroll forward or backward if you miss any days or want to get ahead.