I had a heart attack at age 39 and doctors in the hospital told me my heart stopped beating for 45 minutes. I was dead. But those amazing doctors worked hard to bring me back to life by performing CPR for that entire time. Doctors placed me in an induced coma for nine days. When I was awakened, my life was substantially different.
I now have to live with a pacemaker that keeps my heart beating properly. A lot of my memories were gone. But fortunately, I remembered my beautiful wife, Tanya, who never left my hospital bedside for the entire nine days.
I was also blessed in another way. I had been driving some foster children in a van from Flint to Detroit following a weekly visit when my heart attack occurred. I felt pain in my chest, and I transitioned from the fast lane to the slow lane. I passed out from the pain and the van ran off the side of the road, and smashed into a small tree. Thank the Lord that the children weren’t hurt. Some people, who had seen the crash, rushed down to the site and began performing CPR. God put them in my path in order to keep me alive.
It was obvious that He was looking out for me. Just like He was during my first 30 years on earth when I had lived quite a turbulent life in Flint. I bounced around at various jobs. I was trying hard to make ends meet which was not easy because I had a six-year-old son with special needs. I hate to admit this but I sold some drugs on the streets whenever I was short of money. You’d be surprised what you resort to when you are desperate and don’t have enough money to eat.
But the Lord spoke to me one night. I clearly heard Him say that I can’t end up in prison when my son with special needs was counting on me. That cut me like a dagger. And I immediately turned my life around, stopped selling drugs, and began following Jesus.
I knew all about Jesus because my mom always took me to church when I was little. But I had no relationship with Him, and I was far from Him. But those words changed my life and I grew into a totally different person at 30 years old.
Since I now had a relationship with Jesus, I could see that He brought me back from the dead. I became so grateful and thankful to be alive. I started to see things in a totally different way. I’d look at a bird’s nest and see the miracle of life and how God even cares for the sparrows. I saw how the grass would be dormant in the winter and then come back to life in the spring. It was quite a transformation within me.
I kept asking God why He had chosen to save me, not just spiritually but also physically, and bring me back to life. And what I heard was that He wanted me to serve others rather than myself. So that is what I’ve been doing ever since.
I became a CPR instructor. After you’ve had a heart attack, you realize how things in life can change quickly. So I wanted to teach people how to help others if they’re ever in that position.
And for the past two decades, I’ve been working as a valet in various places. For many years, I worked at hospitals in Michigan and Texas. As a valet, I’d come in contact with a lot of people that are hurting or have suffered the loss of a loved one. Now I work at a nice hotel in Birmingham, and I might see people in town for a funeral or a family reunion. I feel it’s my calling to be a light for these people. I’m the first person they encounter when they arrive or the last person they see when they are leaving, and I want to give them an encouraging word, and maybe even a short verse out of the Bible. I want them to see my love for Jesus in how I live.
We, as Christians, are called to be the light in a dark world and be an encouragement to one another. Hopefully, people are seeing that in me.