Christianity Today - March 1993
The middle-aged woman who stood at John and Gail Wessells’s front door wore a fragile smile. She gripped the push-handles of a wheelchair bearing the strapped-in figure of another woman: limp, unable to speak or gesture, her eyes vacant, her hands unnaturally inward. This was Lisa, she said, her adult daughter who had been in a coma for 12 years.
John and Gail stole a familiar glance at each other. They had seen such hope in many others. John turned to the mother with a warm smile. “We have to tell you,” he began gently, “we don’t have a healing ministry.”
No? The mother was puzzled. “We believe Jesus can heal,” Gail explained, “But we believe Jesus wants to do something even deeper for your daughter.”
with you." he said. “ You now how comforting it is when you know you’re in the Lord’s presence? Well that’s what God wants to do for Lisa. We’re simply going to minister to Jesus. And we’re going to trust Him to her, because He can reach her where we can’t.”
John began the chorus of a familiar praise song. Gail and the mother joined in. And for the next hour, they simply sang, worshiped, prayed, and praised God quietly. Before they finished, Lisa’s mother was crying softly. She knew something significant was taking place. Her daughter’s low groans had turned into sighs of soothing. A peace had settled over the room.
The mother looked up with grateful tears. She said she had not met many people who had treated her daughter like a human being. Gail smiled, “I’d want someone to encourage me in the Lord.”
The mother had heard about the Wessells’ ministry to the comatose through a friend. Now, as she wheeled her daughter into John and Gail’s living room, she leaned down and whispered,” Isn’t this wonderful, Lisa? These people have a healing ministry.”
They talked for a while-about Lisa, the accident that crushed her once-vibrant life, and what her mother had endured as a single parent caring for her 12 long years. The Wessells’ listened intently. They understood the pain.
Finally, John brought out his 12-string guitar. "We're just going to worship
Reaching The Unreachable
The vast majority of people John and Gail Wessells meet through their ministry suffers deeply with no clear answers. The tragedy that continues day after day for someone in a coma and the pain felt by their families, a pain that often seems unbearable is something only the Love of Christ can touch.
Eventually, through the Wessells’ ministry of compassion to Wayne John, one by one the entire DeMartino family came to Christ. And today, John and Gail hold weekly Bible studies in the DeMartinos’ home. “If God chooses to heal Wayne John, that would be great,” Midge says. “But if he stays in this state for the rest of his life, and the rest of our lives, I’ll still rejoice because of all the Lord has done.”
The DiMartinos illustrate yet another fruit of the Wessells’ ministry: God harvests the bystanders as well as the comatose.
Not long ago, John and a friend, Luke, were singing praise songs to a patient when they heard a commotion in the hall. They looked out the door and saw a man rolling toward them in a wheelchair, crying and pointing to his heart.
John asked what was wrong. As the man haltingly formed a few words, John realized that the music had touched him. “Do you know Jesus?” John asked. The man shook his head. “Would you like to? Would you like for us to pray with you?” The man nodded his head, almost violently. As Luke and John began to pray with him, he began praising God, tears of joy running down his face.
“As long as a human being has breath on this earth, he possesses a soul,” John says. “And ultimately it is that precious, living soul that God is concerned about.”
By Scott and Joy Sawyer, staff members of Time Square Church in New York City.