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One year ago, Steve Johnson, with his wife Pam and their two small children, Brian (6) and Theresa (2 1/2), had been called here to pastor the First Baptist Church. They had rented a house while looking for one to buy which would suit their needs and still be within their means. Now they had found it, a "fixer-upper" on Columbia St., and were busy moving into their new home.
Longtime Ellensburg residents will tell you it's a nearly ideal place to live and raise a family except for one thing--the wind. The local Christian community often likes to see the wind as a promise from God, like Noah's rainbow, that the Holy Spirit is going to sweep into the valley bringing a mighty revival. Theresa's miracle, we believe, is the first fruits.
The story of that miracle is told here in the words of the eyewitnesses.
Around mid-morning, needing a break, I took the children with me to a nearby mom-and-pops grocery store. On the way back home we passed a stream that ran through the neighborhood. A teenage boy was trying to free his snagged fishing hook. Brian and Theresa ran on ahead and tried to engage him, but he seemed unfriendly so we walked on past the two more houses to our home.
A few minutes later the two children were sitting on the front steps, eating their popsicles and playing with some Bible character dolls Brian had received for his birthday. The door was open and I could hear them talking. Frequently I would stand next to the screen door and hear Brian saying something like, "Now, Theresa, this is the king and you have the queen." And I would return to my boxes.
Then I heard Brian whimpering and instantly I knew something was wrong. I called him and ran downstairs to meet him as he came in the front door, his eyes filled with terror and his little voice straining at the words: "Mommy, a boy has taken Theresa!"
My world stopped. I knew he had no reason to lie and I had every reason to believe him. I cried, "Which way?" and followed his fingerpoint out the door and up the street, shouting my baby's name.
Meanwhile, by the time we got back to Columbia St. the police had arrived and were cordoning off the area. They told me to do the hardest thing I had ever done, to stay put at home so that when they needed me they would know where to find me. How could I just sit there and do nothing! They were firm, though, so I sat down on the lawn. Although the shock of it was catching up with me now, I was still able to pray. I was desperate and terrified, but the Holy Spirit came in my need and filled me with faith that Theresa was in Jesus' hands, and He is our Mighty Deliverer. So then I was able to pray all the harder.
About this time our dear friends from the church, Bruce and Jan Babad, arrived on the scene. They embraced me in a big hug and I gave in and released the pent-up tears. God used Bruce and Jan to comfort and strengthen me, and I regained my composure and together we re-joined the search.
As I sat there and prayed, I thanked God for the two and one half years of being able to hold my daughter in my arms.
And I remembered . . . . Prior to becoming pregnant with Theresa I had undergone a spontaneous miscarriage in the first trimester. My body had never failed me before. Being a gymnast and an active female, I had always enjoyed vigorous health, and it never occurred to me that I might have difficulty carrying a child. I was shaken by the experience and cried out to God. The doctors told me to wait a few months and then try again, but my spirit told me that God is in control and to trust in Him.
When I found I was so quickly pregnant again, I began a journal in which I wrote down everything the Lord was telling me concerning this new life that He was covenanting with Steve and myself for. I would lie in bed in the early hours and commune with my Savior, praying peacefully for my baby. During those times of sweet surrender to His Spirit I sometimes heard His quiet voice speaking to my heart. He let me know that "It's a girl" and that she would be small. Her name would be Theresa and joy would characterize her life. Theresa means "bountiful" or "reaper," and she would bring bounty and fruit wherever she went.
In those pages I wrote down verse after verse from the Scriptures that the Lord gave me for this precious life. I wrote little letters to my unborn child telling her about her daddy and mommy and brother--how we loved her and were joyfully anticipating her arrival. Gradually my fears of another bodily failure dissolved away in the expectation of God's promise. It was a very special nine months.
Sitting there on the lawn, I remembered our dear midwives. While I was pregnant with Brian, I was working at a hospital where women were trained to be midwives. It was a life-changing experience for me, and I resolved that all my births would be at home attended by midwives. Now, pregnant with Theresa, I sought out that special loving care again. God led me to two women working together in midwifery, godly women full of the Holy Spirit. They had attended a difficult birth a few months previously, though, and were uncertain about continuing their midwifery at that time. I told them I would pray and asked them to pray about it also, and we would keep in touch. Soon I knew God was saying He would use the birth of this child to mend wounded hearts, and these two women would be the first. So I wasn't surprised when they agreed to attend the birth.
I remembered how on the evening she was born, I was working my nursing shift at the local hospital and had to call the supervisor and ask to be replaced. The staff had tried to persuade me to give birth at the maternity ward instead of at home, and now when I left the hospital the enemy whispered to me, "You are leaving safety." But I rebuked Satan and gave myself and my daughter into the loving care of Jesus.
The midwives came promptly and faithfully. Brian, then only three and a half, was in his green pajamas and had taken my stethoscope and his Dad's swimming cap and was playing doctor beside me, listening to the baby and being protective as our family went through the labor together.
I remembered touching Theresa's sticky little head as it emerged, and how out of my body came this wiggly crying child. Covered with the lotions of the womb and bathed in the presence of God, she was everything He had told me she would be. The midwives marveled at the peace and obvious presence of God in the room, but I was too involved to notice anything but my new daughter, Theresa.
The Lord told me her life would be bountiful, and Theresa means "bountiful" or "reaper." With these poignant memories as I sat there on the lawn, I began praying all the more for Theresa, thanking God for her and submitting myself to Him. Whatever might happen, I would praise Him. I remembered other times, taking the children to the park, helping Theresa on the swings, pulling her in her wagon. She was always so cheerful, she made you glad just to be with her.
Suddenly a harsh noise broke through my prayers and recollections. I almost yelled, "Stop that noise!" when I realized it was a siren.
I said, "But we can't yell it in here," and Margie replied, "I'm going to."
But before she could, I saw another vision, of a person in a khaki uniform. I couldn't see the head or tell if it was a man or woman, but the person seemed to be walking across a small bridge, and I sensed that they were looking for something. At that moment we both shouted out, "STOP!" The person in my vision stopped and seemed to look around, and then the vision ended. No one around us seemed to have heard anything.
Immediately, however, a new vision started. I saw a creek, with fast-flowing water about eighteen inches deep, and a culvert beneath which the creek flowed. Right where the creek went under the culvert I saw a small child under the water. A large rock was pinning the child's head down, but I could see the eyes, fixed and staring, and one foot was sticking out above the surface.
This new vision alarmed me very much, naturally, but I didn't yet connect it with the abduction we had just heard about. I told Margie what I was seeing and she said maybe we should go tell them at First Baptist church. Then I did make the connection with the little girl who might have been abducted, but I wasn't sure what they might think if we told them about the visions. Even I wasn't sure that it wasn't just my overheated imagination. Margie felt strongly that we should tell them anyway, and so we paid for our lunch and drove over to the church.
Scott Hammond, Paramedic
I asked what he meant, and he replied, "We've just received a 911 call that Theresa Johnson's been abducted." Then I got it--we both knew the Johnson family very well.
We had recently been having problems in the community with some unsavory characters hanging out around the schools, and there had been a couple of incidents where small children actually were abducted. So my first thought was that we have got to get out there--I have got to get out there to the neighborhood and start searching, no time to waste, because if an abductor gets her into a vehicle and gets out of town, she's gone. Beyond our reach. I said at once, "Let's get going, get some people out there and join in the search."
"No," Stan replied, "the sergeant doesn't want any civilians out there."
By civilians he meant people other than the police and their affiliates. They had mobilized the city and county police, university campus police, Forest Service and Fish and Game agents, and State Patrol officers to cordon off and scour the neighborhood where the Johnsons lived--where they had just moved in. I strongly disagreed with this no civilians policy. My thinking in that moment of stress was: they don't know what she looks like--we need people on the scene who can recognize Theresa. So I got on the phone and called Bruce and Jan Babad, who were also close friends of the Johnsons, and told them what had happened and suggested they get out there and start looking. I also activated the church's prayer chain with the same suggestion. Of course I was butting heads with police policy, but I was feeling trapped: I'm on duty, I can't go, but I can send out some folks who know Theresa. Anyway that's what I did. Then I sat and waited--in the ambulance, where I turned on the radio so I could scan the police traffic, where they were, what they were doing and finding out.
A little more than half an hour later I heard the deputy sheriff requesting an ambulance for a possible drowning incident out on Tenth St. between Water and Columbia. I knew exactly what was going on, but of course nobody else had my inside scoop. Our procedure is that we go with the ambulance when the call comes over our pager, but I was in no mood by this time to wait on procedure, so I fired up the ambulance and started hollering, "Let's go, let's go! We've got a drowning!" I noticed I hadn't opened the garage doors, but my thought at the moment was, the hell with it, the doors can always be replaced. I was sky high on adrenaline.
The other guys on shift still didn't have a clue and probably thought I'd gone around the bend, but just about then the call did come over the pager and we took off--after the doors were opened. Since the subject was reported as "unconscious, unresponsive," we went with a full crew of three paramedics--Tom Cameron driving, Jim Hanson and myself. Tom took what I thought was not the best route for getting there fastest, and I said so and he said, "Hey, I'm driving," and that was that, but I did what I could on the loudspeaker, shouting over the siren and telling people to clear the way in pretty plain language.
Jim Hanson, E.M.T.
I already knew the Johnson family because when they first moved to town they rented a house that we owned, and so we got to know Steve and Pam and their children pretty well. On the morning of Theresa's abduction I wasn't actually assigned to the emergency team, but when the call came in, one of the team members was temporarily out of the station and so I became the third man. Coincidence, or Providence?
It was time for me, as the leader of the paramedic team, to take charge of her medical treatment until we got to the emergency room. The first thing I did can't be found in any manual--yet. I picked her up, held her upside down and compressed her belly--a big squeeze. A lot of sand and water came out. By the book, I should never have done that, or at least not without first using C-spine precautions--put on a cervical collar, strap her to a backboard, and so on. I did it automatically, on impulse--guided by the Holy Spirit? I don't know--and afterward I did a lot of second guessing about it. Since that time, in the last ten years, it has become understood in our profession, from the top national leadership on down, that when a child's heart stops beating it isn't usually from a heart attack but from oxygen deprivation, so what you need to do is ventilate, oxygenate. And in a rough and ready way, that's what I was doing. As for spinal injury, it's not a problem for the dead. First things first.
Ellensburg DAILY RECORD, Thursday July 30 1987
[sic] Ellensburg girl, reportedly the victim of an abduction at
about 11 a.m. today, was found less than 45 minutes later in a creek
near 10th and Water streets.
Ellensburg DAILY RECORD, Friday July 31, 1987
. . . The girl was not breathing and had no clothing on when she was pulled from the brook, says the woman who found her.
"She was totally limp when I brought her out," says Mary Draper, who was among the volunteers helping law enforcement officers search the area. "Her whole body was blue, even her eyes."
Ms. Draper said the youngster was nearly submerged when she and a companion found the girl behind the grate in the creek culvert.
"She was upside down (face down) and her whole body was under water except a leg caught between cement blocks," she said.
We called the hospital and told them we're on our way, she's been intubated, still unresponsive, going to need rewarming. John Harris came with Jim and me in the ambulance, doing the CPR, and Tom drove and we arrived in four or five minutes. Steve and Pam were already there, along with quite a number of people from our church and other churches in town. Pam is an RN and she gave me a direct, "professional" look. I told her Theresa's status in abbreviated terms--no point in raising false hopes.
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Georgia Flannagan, (Naturopathic Physician)
After a while we received word that she had been found and was at the hospital's emergency room, so we went down there.
Well, since she had already been found I kept my visions to myself, but Margie wanted to join them at the hospital and I went along with her, though I felt a little uncomfortable since I didn't really know these people.
Everything was still going real smooth, but there were two unusual things. Ordinarily Scott would have let the ICU staff take over at this point, but he began actively assisting the doctors and no one objected. He insisted that either he or I should always have our hands on Theresa--no medical reason for this, the reason was spiritual. The other unusual thing was that while all this was going on, Steve came into the ICU and said he was going to pray for the whole medical team, and he did and again no one objected. Believe me, any of us who pray at all were praying then.
One of these pictures I saw was a pair of lungs with something like little pockets all over them, and these pockets were filled with water. I shared this picture, and someone felt they were getting a word of knowledge that the water was bad and should be replaced with a saline solution, and so we prayed along these lines. The really amazing thing was, while we were praying like this, guided by the Holy Spirit, Scott Hammond or someone else that was in there working on Theresa would come out and tell us we ought to be praying for such and such, and we had just been praying for it! I was astonished at how these "strange coincidences" kept happening over and over.
When we got there, I was allowed to join Steve and Pam and Brian and a few others in the family waiting room nearby the Emergency Room where they were working on Theresa. All we knew at this point was that her skin was bluish and there were no signs of life, but they were administering CPR and other lifesaving measures. Meanwhile the corridors and the patio area outside were filling with people as they got word about what had happened.
The next hour or so--I have no idea how long it really was, but quite a while--was awful but also wonderful and amazing. It might sound strange, but along with all the weeping and anxiety, we were praising the Lord very intensely. Steve was leading us in this, weeping and praising at the same time. I remember that not long before this, in our prayer times at church, Steve had been asking the Lord to give him empathy for other people, especially for people in distress. He was asking Jesus to give him His heart for people. If this was an answer to that prayer, it was a hard way to get it. But his faith was very strong, even at such a terrible time as this.
From time to time Scott would come in and give us a progress report, but for a long time there was no good news. We still kept on praying and praising, sometimes holding hands together, sometimes down on the floor beseeching Him, sometimes just rejoicing in His goodness. One thing that may have helped us do that was that there was a kind of electric feeling in the air, as if the Lord was really in there with us. We would get words of knowledge about what to pray for. At one point I had a vision that looked like electricity jumping from one thing to another, and I said, "Something's happening, guys, something's happening!" Then Scott came in again and said that they had just begun to monitor electrical activity in Theresa's heart--which, I guess, is the first sign of life. At that moment I knew that God was with us and we were taking part in a miracle.
Does God answer prayer? You tell me.
After that I saw, in my mind's eye, a diagram of the human anatomy, and my attention was drawn to a purple-colored organ in the abdominal region, so I prayed for that organ even though I didn't know its name. Later on when I got home I looked it up in the encyclopedia under "anatomy," and I was amazed all over again to see that the encyclopedia's diagram was exactly the same as in my vision. It strikes me how the Lord keeps on stretching our faith.
The same spirit of praying for victory that the Holy Spirit had given me came over other believers who by now had gathered at the hospital. Scott was laboring with the medical team over Theresa--they were using every skill in their arsenal in trying to revive her--and he took a break at one point and went into an adjacent room where he engaged in fierce spiritual warfare, shouting to the enemy, "You can't have her! She belongs to Jesus--you cannot have her!"
When that was over I went out to where Steve and Pam and the others were waiting and praying, and I told them what was being done. By faith we could have hope for her, but not according to natural knowledge. Then I went back in and relieved the person who was bagging Theresa for respiration, and as I worked over her I whispered in her ear, "Come on back. Come on back. Take a breath." And what do you know, she did, she took a breath on her own, and then all I was doing was assisting her breathing, and eventually she was breathing on her own.
One thing I do know for a fact: our God is a very great and wonderful God.
Mrs. Lee Johnson (Steve's mother)
Then, on the three Sundays prior to Theresa's abduction, Steve's sermons were on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and how that same power now works in the lives of believers (Romans 8:11, Ephesians 1:18-20). Some members of the congregation thought he might be getting a bee in his bonnet, but each week he felt the Lord leading him to preach those Scriptures. How easy it is to see in hindsight that the Lord was "preparing the way."
Like Pam, I am a Registered Nurse. On July 30 I was on my lunch break in the nurses' lounge at the Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital in Clackamas, a suburb of Portland, when I was informed I had an emergency call from Pam. Wondering with some alarm what it could be, I took the call in Pediatrics. In a calm, matter-of-fact voice, amazing under the circumstances, Pam told me that Theresa had been abducted from their front yard, abused and beaten, and was found submerged in a nearby creek without pulse or respiration. Now she was in the ER where, having regained heartbeat and been stabilized, she was on a respirator and in critical condition. Could Lloyd and I come?
Shaken by the shock of it, I replied, "Of course, Pam, we'll be there as soon as possible--I'll call Lloyd now. God be with you all!" As soon as I hung up, my mind leaped to all that her professional, nurse-to-nurse conversation had left unsaid: the horror of it--how could anyone be so cruel?--and the emotional storms and, what we both knew, that the survival rate without serious brain damage from near-drownings is dreadfully low.
Struggling for control, I phoned my husband at the Division St. Kaiser Clinic in Portland. He greeted me cheerfully, "Hi, honey, how are things going?" I gave him the news as calmly as I could. He said he would make arrangements to leave the clinic, and I asked him to stop by and pick me up as I wasn't sure I could drive. Then some of the doctors and nurses comforted me and helped me get my emotions under control, but it was still like a living nightmare.
Sharon Grogan (Pam's sister-in-law)
Spence, Pam's brother, was working around the clock in the hay fields and wouldn't be able to get away just then. Grandma and Grandpa Grogan were on their way to a missionary project in Montana, and I wasn't able to get ahold of them until the next day by means of the State Patrol. I called Pam's sister Bernece in Klamath Falls, and we agreed that I would swing by there tomorrow and pick her up after work, then head up to Seattle.
And then when Scott returned from battling Satan in the utility room, he went into the ICU and said to Theresa, "Your mommy and your daddy and your brother want you to breathe. Now, breathe!" And she gasped a breath. He said, "Now, breathe again," and she breathed again. Our great God had brought her back to life. In the process He used the skills of doctors and paramedics--thank God for each one of them!--but they didn't bring Theresa from death back to life. ONLY GOD, who has conquered death once for all in the resurrection of Jesus, has the power to do that.
According to all our medical knowledge and standards, she had no business being alive. Her body temperature had fallen to 83 degrees and her pH to 6.3; with those numbers, people don't revive--and even if they could, they would be in a vegetative state from brain damage. So even though her heart was beating again and she had begun to breathe, she was still very much a miracle in progress.
Mrs. Lee Johnson (Steve's mother)
In the first dream I saw Theresa's body from the waist down, lying on the ground naked. I don't know how I knew it was Theresa, but I did. I awoke with alarm and prayed that Jesus would keep watch over Theresa and shield her from harm. When I told Lloyd about the dream, he said I was probably worried from recently having nursed two patients who had suffered abuse.
The second night I dreamed I could see her whole naked body except her face. Her little body was gray against the brown earth and there were tall weeds in the background. I seemed to be hovering above her. Frightened awake again, I again prayed to Jesus that He protect and care for Theresa. Vangie Copeland, a dear Christian friend, was at her nurse's desk the next morning and I told her about the two dreams, and we prayed for Theresa.
The third dream was even more graphic, the colors more vivid. Again I seemed to be suspended above Theresa looking down. As before, she lay naked on the ground. There was some green, grassy vegetation to her right, and I could hear water running. Her body was still grayish colored and her abdomen was distended. Then the "camera" moved and I could see her face, which was puffy with bruising around her eyes. At that point I woke up weeping with terror. I cried out to God not to let such a thing happen to my precious little granddaughter. When Lloyd awoke I described the dream to him and said I wanted to call Steve and tell him about it, but Lloyd felt I shouldn't do that.
I leaned over her and talked to her. I told her that her mommy and daddy loved her, and I began to sing her bedtime songs to her. "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong."
The staff was still bagging her for each breath and giving percussions for each heartbeat, but Jesus was in the room with us and we knew it, we could feel His tangible presence. Within two or three hours after she was found, the Lord had brought our daughter back to life and the emergency team had stabilized her. What she needed now was more extensive ICU facilities than our hospital possessed, so arrangements were immediately made to airlift her to the Children's Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle.
I knew it was against procedures for me to accompany Theresa on the flight, but like any mother I desperately wanted to be with her, so I asked if I could go. For some reason (possibly my being a nurse helped), they relented and gave me permission. Meanwhile, about this time I was sitting in a wheelchair they had provided, listening to the nurses at their station singing Happy Birthday to one of the doctors, a pediatrician who was celebrating his 60th birthday. I congratulated him too. God sure puts things together in funny ways--death and life, youth and maturity, heartbreak and good cheer.
The nurses gave me a sandwich and some fruit for the road, and once again Theresa was carried into an ambulance. I gave good-bye hugs and kisses to Steve and Brian, then got aboard. As Jim Hanson drove us to the airport I could tell this whole experience was very difficult for his father's heart. But I couldn't reach out to another just then, so I just looked out the window and hummed simple tunes to comfort my mother's heart. Even so, I drew strength from that godly man's presence and concern for me.
I'm not sure when it dawned on me and the others involved in this that we were taking part in a miracle. At the time it was too full and intense for any reflecting. But afterwards we realized it--certainly I did, especially when I learned how low her pH had fallen, as low as 6.3. People with that kind of acidosis just don't survive, and neither did Theresa. She was resurrected. This was the kind of experience that changes your outlook on ultimate things--life, God, time and eternity--forever.
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Third Movement: WARFARE
It was a perfectly beautiful day for flying, the sky deep blue, the mountains green with trees, white clouds in the distance. So much beauty, and my daughter's struggle for life and my own heart's anguish piercing through all that beauty like an arrow. I was swept along by the airplane and by events as in a dream, a brutal nightmare. Yet it was real and it was happening to my family. My promise from God. Bountiful.
When we landed at Boeing Field another ambulance was waiting. With a big smile the driver said, "Where've you been? We've been waiting all day!" He had a perfect row of white teeth, dark brown sparkling eyes, and a vigorous love for life. I thought he looked just like Eric Estrada.
Soon they had transferred Theresa and we were racing across the airfield. The driver asked me to hold his cup of coffee, but looking ahead I saw the rush hour traffic we were heading into, so I rolled down the window and poured out the coffee.
All the lanes were bumper to bumper. He began pushing buttons and flipping switches, and the ambulance responded like an electric toy. Siren and flashing lights alerted the traffic that we were coming, but the cars were so densely packed there was hardly any room for them to move over. We burrowed through to the inside shoulder and then the driver grabbed a microphone and started yelling over the bullhorn, "Move to the right, please, move to the right!" Over and over he repeated this phrase, never slowing down but just yelling louder if someone didn't respond quickly enough. Wrought up as I was already, now I was terrified afresh and I found myself shouting at the traffic too and waving to the right with my hands, every moment expecting a collision. I prayed frantically, "God, make them move--please!"
Finally the driver pointed to an off-ramp, "That's ours." I almost lost it when I realized it was on the opposite side of the freeway. But we crossed the median and he kept on yelling over the bullhorn and somehow we made it off the freeway. I redoubled my prayers. Lord, just get us there in one piece.
We made it, and that driver has been a hero to me ever since. We arrived at Harborview Medical Center where they have a trauma team ready to perform emergency surgery 24 hours a day. At least a dozen doctors and nurses were waiting to receive Theresa. They whisked her wheeled stretcher into a large emergency room and a doctor barked out, "What we have here is a two-and-a-half year old female abducted from her yard this morning and drowned ...."
I backed up to a wall and wondered what to do, where to go, feeling a bit like excess baggage. Mercifully, someone took me by the arm and led me to a waiting room. A small room, without windows. The abstract painting on the wall only depressed me. I began crying, and my overburdened heart cried out to God, "Oh Lord, please don't let me be alone--I can't stand to be alone right now. Please bring someone to wait with me."
Then the door opened and Brian Key, who had been "best man" in our wedding, came in and took my hands. Was I ever thankful to see him! He told me how his wife had heard the news but was unable to get here, so she phoned him and he took off from work and then, in one more of those "coincidences" that God arranges, he saw our ambulance entering the freeway with siren and flashing lights. I'll get a ticket for sure, he thought, but what the heck, and he jumped in right behind the ambulance and actually followed us in all the way to the hospital! So God was bringing me the company I so desperately needed even before I knew I needed it.
We talked of everything normal--his children, what his wife was doing. The dog they were getting in spite of his protests. We laughed together over good memories we shared as couples. It was just exactly what the Great Physician ordered.
The trauma team's first priority at that point was to examine Theresa for any internal damage. If she needed surgery they were prepared to do it on the spot. The scans they did of her brain and chest and abdomen, however, all showed no serious damage that would require surgery. Our miracle was still happening. Theresa was released to be taken on over to Children's Hospital for continued intensive care.
Mrs. Lee Johnson
Before leaving, I called our church, Lake Oswego United Methodist, and left a message asking them to be praying for this critical need. We decided to drive instead of flying, since it would be about as fast in the end and we would need a car when we got there. By 2:00 PM we were headed north on Interstate 5, praying all the while--praying to get there safely and in time to meet them when they arrived, praying of course most fervently for Theresa, and praying the Lord's Prayer over and over.
We also discussed the medical aspects, the possible outcomes for near-drowning victims. I thought of our dear little two-year-old being forcibly held under water and my heart nearly broke. We prayed all the more, short prayers, long prayers, prayers for a miracle, prayers for Steve and Pam and Brian. We prayed the 23rd Psalm. At one point I found myself silently pleading with the Lord, even bargaining--You do this for me and I'll do anything You want, just make her well!
I realized this was hardly an expression of faith, and I felt my trust in Jesus waning. I was overwhelmingly weary. Then I remembered those three dreams and I felt so ashamed. How could I lose my trust in the Lord when He had given me those dreams--so terrible at the time--in order to prepare me for this hour, to build my faith. I asked forgiveness and thanked Him for His faithfulness. Suddenly I surprised myself by blurting aloud, "Lord, she can't die, I've already bought her Christmas dress!" Lloyd smiled and held my hand.
We knew that she was breathing but little else about her condition. The Harborview trauma unit had confirmed that she had no broken bones or internal injuries. But she had been beaten, and with each hour her little face grew more swollen and discolored. They had no information on her brain yet, but she seemed to be responding quickly to stimuli and they felt that held out promise.
In spite of my desire, or the desire of part of me, to tune out the medical stuff, I did notice that as the nurses and doctors intubated, added new IV's, and kept watch over Theresa's little life, one by one they would take time to go to the phone and call home. One conversation I overheard went like this: "Hi honey, how are the kids? ... No, it's just a rough night here and I was thinking of you guys. ... Yeah, I love you too. See you when I get there."
Mrs. Lee Johnson
"Brian's the hero of the day," Pam exclaimed, explaining how he had alerted her about the abduction. But poor little Brian wasn't feeling very heroic. We learned that Pam had accompanied Theresa on the airlift, and she described the high speed ambulance ride to Harborview.
The ICU team was evaluating Theresa's condition and performing needed procedures, and it would be several more hours before we could see her, so we decided to go the the hospital cafeteria for some dinner. None of us felt very hungry but we ate anyway to keep our strength up, while Steve and Pam recounted more details of their terrifying day.
At about 10:30 PM the members of Theresa's family were taken into a consultation room with the chief physician, Dr. Morray, and some assisting doctors. In guarded words Dr. Morray described Theresa's condition as critical with perhaps a 50/50 chance of survival. If she were to survive, she would be hospitalized for at least six months and there was a high probability of permanent brain damage. We absorbed this news bravely, I think, but with heavy hearts, though Steve stood firm in his faith that God was going to complete His miracle. I was very concerned about possible infections or pneumonia from the dirty water in her lungs, and I wanted them to start giving antibiotics.
When the consultation was over we finally got to see our precious little granddaughter. As we approached her crib we saw the respirator, the heart monitor, and the IV tubings. She was restrained in a spread-eagled position and was diapered. There were cold wet towels to lower her temperature, which had gone from hypothermia directly into fever due to the severe trauma.
I saw all this in the blink of an eye, but what immediately struck me with amazement and gratitude was that her little body as I now saw it was the very same body I had seen in my dreams! The good Lord had been preparing my heart for this encounter, and now in seeing the exact same injuries that I had dreamed, I was reassured that the Lord was indeed with us in this trial.
But God's word tells us this:
Lord is my strength and my shield;
Already by last evening, when we were so exhausted and heading into a nightmarish night, He was arranging to have Theresa's story go out on the evening news across the nation, and that is probably the main thing that triggered such a tremendous firestorm of prayer from coast to coast. Later on people wrote and told us they had been praying for Theresa, people from California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Idaho, Texas, Arizona, and Georgia, among others. These were total strangers to us, and some committed themselves to intercede for Theresa until she was completely healed. When is a stranger no longer a stranger? When he or she is praying for you.
That same Thursday evening, 1,400 people were gathered in Portland, Oregon for a healing conference led by Charles and Frances Hunter. When Theresa's abduction came to their attention, they felt led by the Spirit to do something out of the ordinary, and soon all 1,400 people were praying with their arms outstretched toward Seattle.
One of the very best parts of Theresa's miracle was the way God mobilized His saints into dynamic, coordinated spiritual action, and gave us a glimpse at what an awesome thing the body of Christ really can be.
Mrs. Lee Johnson
We arrived at Theresa's cribside at about 3:45 AM. The nurse felt she might be somewhat better. We sat down beside her and I took hold of her oh-so-cold little hand. As I was praying for her I asked the Lord to please give me some sign that she was going to be all right, and GLORY BE, her hand squeezed mine! Some would say it was a mere coincidence, but I knew better. My spirits soared. I knew that her recovery might be long term, but I also knew beyond a doubt that one day our little sweetheart would be home again, completely well. Praise the Lord!
Doctor after doctor came into the ICU with their interns following. In small groups they washed and gowned, then stood around Theresa's bed, shaking their heads and saying, "You know what her pH was! . . . This is most unusual." More head shaking, and occasionally some young and brave staff member dared to say it: "It's a miracle." But the older, more experienced doctors had no words to describe the bright-eyed child looking intently on all the goings-on.
We thanked God and praised Him throughout the hospital, sharing our miracle with all who would listen. By now more family and friends had arrived and we were a large excited group. We took turns sitting with Theresa. Being intubated, she couldn't speak, but I held her hand and talked and sang to her and did everything I could for her. When they allowed me to hold her in my arms, we both cried.
Her swollen, disfigured face made it difficult to see what a beautiful babe she was, so we put a snapshot of her on her crib.
Mrs. Carolyn Grogan (Pam's mother)
Near mid-day on Friday, Frank parked our fifth-wheel in the space allotted for us by the church. Then we drove into Savage and found a laundromat. While we were doing our laundry, a State Patrol car pulled up outside and an officer came in. He asked us if we were Mr. and Mrs. Frank Grogan, and when we said yes he told us they had been trying to find us all day. That certainly got our chilled attention. He gave us a telephone number we were to call immediately. It was our son Spencer's number, and I realized in my spirit that something terrible must have happened.
Our daughter-in-law Sharon answered the call and told me that Theresa was alive but in serious condition. She had been abducted and drowned on Thursday morning, and God had raised her from the dead. Sharon gave me a phone number where I could reach Pam at Children's Hospital in Seattle. In a state of shock I hurriedly called the number, and when Pam came on the line we poured our hearts out to each other and then made plans for me to get there as soon as possible.
We found that no plane would be leaving until Sunday. Our MMAP group and the pastor and church began praying at once and were a great comfort to us. Frank felt he was to stay there until the Lord released him.
The house became an integral part of our whole life-changing experience. For me, it became one of the first sources of the emotional healing I so desperately needed, even if I wasn't yet aware of the need.
RMH was designed with children in mind. Within the fenced yard there are play areas with books and toys, and the playroom is next to the kitchens and family areas. Daily I walked the quiet path between this house of love and Theresa's hospital room. Children in treatment for cancer played on the swings and slides within the beautifully landscaped yard. Parents strolled by with their sweet babes in strollers or in their arms. In nearly all of them you could see signs of stress, concern, and lack of sleep. I would pray . . . Dear Lord . . . have mercy . . . have mercy.
I would smell the sweet fragrance of ripening wild blackberries that abounded beside the path. Colorful flowers and even a small vegetable garden soothed the spirit. The carrot-tops and cornstalks helped me take pleasure again in the simple things of life, and brought to mind a more normal life that still existed--out there, so far away, back home.
The roses and flowering bushes along the pathway filled my nose with their fragrance, reminding me that it was summer and that God is good, God is merciful, even when so much of life's seemingly unending grief was dragging my spirit down. Many times I thanked the Lord for encouraging my heart during those walks.
Day after day, too, I would sit in the RMH kitchen with other parents and family members, sharing our experiences, hopes, and dreadful fears. I was struck deep in my heart with the overwhelming weight of suffering and pain, even worse, if such things can be compared at all, than our own suffering. I don't know how anyone can bear such pain without Jesus, and I longed for some appropriate and effective way to impart our faith in the Redeemer to these tormented people. I pray that God yet will make a way.
Sharon Grogan (Pam's sister-in-law)
We said a simple prayer. "Lord, You know we need Your help. We don't know how to get there--please show us the way." So then we started looking for the "H" signs on the freeway, and when we found one we followed where it led. Do you know how many hospitals there are in the Seattle area? But God led us straight to the rear entrance of Children's Hospital.
The door was open and we walked to the nurses' station, having no idea at all which room Theresa might be in and whether they would let us see her at 3:30 AM. But they pointed us to her room, and to our amazement it was the one right next to our parked car outside. I will never forget the awesomeness of God's wonderful hand leading us like little children.
The next thing that happened was, if anything, even more profound and touching for me. I looked into her swollen, bruised little face, and her sweet eyes met mine. I knew in that moment with total assurance that God was going to heal her completely. Recalling that time now, I am overcome with emotion as I think of how great our Lord's love and grace are. Why don't we walk in that love and grace more? Why don't I? He longs for us to walk with Him. My own walk ten years ago was full of living faith, and after Theresa's miracle my cup was running over.
The look that Theresa gave me that early morning is sealed deep down in my heart. Lord, use that undying memory to rekindle the fire!
In the first faint light of dawn, Bernece and I went over to the Ronald McDonald House where Pam was waiting to let us in. We all hugged awhile, then tried to get some sleep. Lying on the floor, I was so keyed up I couldn't sleep. Hearing Pam's deep sighs and moans, my heart went out to her.
Carolyn Grogan (Pam's mother)
But the enemy had other plans, and we found out that the Lord had a reason for stirring up that nationwide prayer watch. Theresa developed pneumonia from all the abuse her lungs had suffered. She began having high fevers, worse than even the pneumonia could account for. She would thrash around in her bed, crying out "No!" and "Man!" The battle was back at full intensity. And each day godly people came to pray with us, listening for God's directives and faithfully believing for a completed miracle.
Because of her outcries, we prayed especially for the healing of her memories and deliverance from fear, so she would not have to relive this later on.
Theresa's crib was in a room with a couple of other children. I was introduced to Pam and Steve, and they were obviously concerned for their daughter and I immediately understood why. She was tossing and squirming, crying "No! . . . no!" and trying to cover her private parts. I shared in her parents' distress, because any form of child abuse is something I can hardly deal with. Queenie Hammond, who is Scott Hammond's mother and a saintly woman, was there also, and Jackie and I joined them in praying for Theresa.
I didn't know quite what to pray, so I just prayed quietly in the Spirit. Naturally there was much concern at that time about Theresa suffering permanent physical or mental impairment, especially from being deprived of oxygen for so long. Anyway, as I was praying in the Spirit, I saw a vision--definitely supernatural, from the Lord--a vision of a clock, a large clock, and the hands were at ten minutes to twelve. At the same time the Lord spoke to me, quietly in my spirit, telling me that when those hands reach "the fullness of time," when they reach twelve o'clock, Theresa will be completely healed, physically, mentally, emotionally, and verbally--there would be no impairment at all.
Once again, though, I was afraid to speak this out. Even though I myself was convinced it was from the Lord, I still thought, what if I'm somehow wrong? How terrible it would be to add false hope to the rest of these parents' affliction. The presence and the pressure of the Holy Spirit was strong enough in the room and in me, however, that I finally did speak it out, and not as a request but as a statement: "The Lord has told me that Theresa will be completely healed and will have no permanent damage at all."
In myself, at this point, I was so certain that her total restoration was a "done deal" that I felt a release from praying, and I thought, well, I may as well go get a hamburger! I didn't actually do that, but I felt the Lord leading me to stroll through the ward and see if I sensed in my spirit that some other children might be needing prayer. My attention was drawn to a child who was panic-stricken because the attendants were trying to administer what I thought might be an anesthetic. So I began to intercede in the Spirit for that child and for others there. I thought, Lord, one miracle is wonderful beyond words, but there is so much need, so much more need for Your miraculous grace. Almost at once I sensed the Lord speaking to my heart, telling me that one day, not too far off, His people will walk in and out of these halls bringing miraculous healing to these little ones. They truly are precious in His sight. And I say, Yes Lord, hasten the day. Hasten Your day.
One evening when we were again holding her down by force while the medics reinserted a feeding tube into her stomach, I finally caved in physically, emotionally, and spiritually. By God's mercy some of our brothers and sisters from Ellensburg arrived just in time to rescue me. They ministered to me as I wept with overwhelming feelings of anger and helplessness. I felt like I could no longer stand to watch what the enemy was doing to Theresa and what the doctors had to do to her to keep her alive.
In that dark hour of desperation, the Holy Spirit came into my heart, ministered to me through His people, and filled me once again with comfort and peace and the assurance that Jesus Christ is Lord indeed. He who raised her from the dead was perfectly able to restore her to full health. He works all things, even terrible things like this, together for good unto those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). I didn't need to understand all the why's, I just needed to look to Him and trust Him to finish His work.
in the Lord with all your heart
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
One thing we do know is that we grew closer to the Lord during the ordeal and became more intimately acquainted with His ways of doing things. We grew in the area of what Scripture calls discernment of spirits--that is, discerning in our spirit what the Holy Spirit is saying and doing, and also what the evil spirits are up to.
If I had seen the young man running off with Theresa, I would have been able to stop him from drowning her, but I didn't see him. Likewise we all have an unseen abductor who would steal and destroy our lives, and that is our enemy Satan. So often we Christians are swinging our sword (the word of God) when we haven't seen where the enemy is or exactly what he is doing. Blind swordstrokes usually miss. So I was praying for discernment, that we might see our enemy in order to fight him.
Since I was often taking the night watch with Theresa I was sleeping in the afternoons. During these times the Lord communicated with me in a couple of dreams, through which He cast a spotlight on some of our enemy's tactics. (By the way, for an eye-opening Bible study, search out the many and varied times God spoke to people in dreams.)
In one dream I saw the front of Theresa's body and the veins were all showing a dark, purplish blue. A phone call awoke me and it was Pam, telling me that Theresa's oxygen level had fallen and they were administering oxygen to her. At the very moment the problem arose, God was showing it to me so we could begin praying for it.
The next day I dreamed I was abducted by some people who took me to an apartment and were trying to force me to work, but I told them I was very weak because I had just got out of the hospital and I still had sand in my lungs. I woke up and went to the physician in charge and asked him if it was possible that Theresa still had sand or silt in her lungs. He replied that, given the conditions of her drowning in a shallow stream, it was a likely possibility that particulant matter was lodged in her lungs and causing infection. So we prayed that the Lord would enable her to cough all that stuff out and that her lungs would be totally healed.
Before this whole experience, we believed in the power of prayer, that God answers our prayers. Now we were coming to know it with complete certainty. Often we can't understand the timing or the wisdom of His answers, but just as He promised, He always answers according to His perfect, holy, omniscient wisdom. We need to ask, though--hear this, we need to ask. Then we need to simply trust the wisdom of the Eternal One who is Wisdom Himself, come what may. That Wisdom may lead us into trials and grief--in fact the word of God assures us that it will (see, for instance, James 1:2-8). That same Wisdom led Jesus to be nailed to a cross and die in agony, but the outcome was better than we could ever have hoped for, the salvation of our souls.
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Fourth Movement: VICTORY
My own strength was being sapped as well. The Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10), but I was having a hard time finding that joy or that strength. I often wept the night away, calling out to God to give us hope, wondering where this would end and trying to recall the wondrous beginnings of her life a few years ago and her new life two weeks ago.
My Dad had felt led by the Spirit to remain there in Montana during this period. Soon many of the people they were working with, the Mobile Mission Assistance Program, were drawn into our ever-increasing circle of praying friends. Then one day he walked into Theresa's room, and before I could even greet him he looked around and said, "This is the spirit of death." Then together with Steve and I, he began to rebuke that spirit and take authority in the wonderful name of Jesus. Agreeing as one in the Spirit, we prayed through to victory. Within 24 hours Theresa's temperature came down to normal and we never had that problem again.
Frank Grogan (Pam's father)
The next few days were full of the most fervent prayer, especially with Paul and Liz Kueffer, who became my prayer partners. About the sixth morning I woke up knowing it was time to go. Then when I was having breakfast with the Kueffers, though I had said nothing about it they told me they believed it was time. As I came out of the camper after breakfast, another woman came and said she felt it was time for me to go. It was time, so I went.
When Steve and I walked into Theresa's hospital room, she stared at me as if she hated me. It was an extremely intense look and I knew at once it was not Theresa that was staring at me but an evil spirit that was in her. The Holy Spirit gave me the knowledge that it was the spirit of death. I believe it was still there because it had not yet been identified. I told Steve that we needed to take authority over this spirit and cast it out. And so, in the matchless name of Jesus and through His almighty power, that is what we did. It took a while but the spirit left. We could feel the release from the presence of death, and Theresa's condition immediately began to improve.
After that spirit of death had been cast out and her fever came down, she was still so weak and unresponsive that the doctors would ordinarily have kept her in intensive care for several more days at least. Perhaps because this had been such an extraordinary case already, however, they decided to move her to Rehab right away. So we moved down to another floor--closer to the ground floor and the door to home
It was Friday August 7 when the Rehab doctors gave her an initial checkup. Understandably enough, she was by now terrified of anyone in white. Every time they came to work on her I had to hold down that poor tiny panicked little girl. I thought, will she ever trust me again? But I knew the doctors and nurses were her friends even if she didn't, so I stayed firm and decided that between us and the Lord we would work out the problems later. Again, we are so grateful to God and to the prayer warriors, to all those people near and far who kept on interceding for Theresa. That is how the victory was won.
So I hung in there, reinserting one tube after another that she pulled out, talking and singing to her, praying over her, feeling her terror myself and doing all I could to comfort her. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (2Cor. 1:3-4)
After the weekend the doctors came back and remarked on the change in Theresa. "She's so much calmer and less agitated, this is wonderful." I kept smiling and agreeing, and telling them it was a result of God answering our prayers. Some of them were indifferent, some encouraged our faith, some paid lip service to placate us. No matter--God's love overcomes all obstacles, and we now knew it as a living reality.
There at RMH I met families from all over the Northwest. As our children played together, we shared our griefs, our hopes, and many prayers. We were like a strange extended family, each one attempting to find some kind of normality in such disorienting circumstances.
We had a lot of remodeling to do in our new fixer-upper house. Work stopped short for me, but people from our church and other friends as well came and cleaned up and fixed up our new home for us. A Christian neighbor came over and finished and spackled our walls and ceilings. God shows His marvelous goodness through all the loving acts He stirs up in His people, and even in people who aren't yet His.
Speech therapy was the most difficult. Either she was refusing to speak or she just couldn't. I began to sense that she needed to go home for a visit. She needed to know she still had a home and we really were a family. Steve and Brian came over as often as possible, but financial and other constraints made it difficult. When Brian did come, Theresa would hold out her hands toward him and give him big hugs, not wanting to let him go.
When we arrived at our house, I carried Theresa inside. Many loving friends, like ministering angels, had cleaned and repaired and painted almost everything. At once she squirmed to be free and I placed her feet on the floor. Her face lit up and she walked all over the house, touching the couch and chairs, the table and the wallpaper. She was so delighted to be home! We followed behind as she toured her house touching and examining everything in a joy of rediscovery. I was afraid to let her sleep apart from us, so Steve packed our mattress up the stairs to her room and we slept on the floor next to her crib.
We had a funny beagle-mix dog named Casey that never obeyed. He wasn't supposed to get on the beds, but we decided he could sleep in her room with us that first night. He would complete our family circle.
The next morning I awoke with a heavy weight on my feet. Sure enough, Casey had found a comfortable spot. I sat up and started to scold him when Theresa popped up in her crib, pointed at the dog and called, "C-C-Casey!" She had not forgotten our lovable mutt's name, and we will always fondly recall the morning when Theresa began to talk again.
We took her to church that Sunday, and again she seemed to drink in all her bright eyes could contain, smiling and pointing and speaking more words.
Returning to the hospital was not a happy experience for Theresa, but her therapists tried to make each day fun. One morning the speech therapist was using a toy barn and cow to help her. She asked Theresa where we get milk from. Theresa looked at the toy figures and replied, "The dairy." The therapist's look of surprise was humorous, and I confirmed that we regularly went up the road to the dairy for our milk.
Theresa's miraculous recovery had its impact on all the doctors and nurses and other staff people who interacted with her. How many of these people were affected we may never know, but her primary ICU nurse, Tammy Rondorf, sent us a touching card afterward in which she wrote:
Just a little note to express some special thoughts with you, a special thank you for all that you and Theresa have given to my spiritual well- being personally and most of all professionally. Theresa's miraculous recovery came along at a point in my nursing career when I was losing my faith in "miracles" because no matter how good of a nurse I had been, death was a dominating experience. I needed a miracle so badly!!!
I truly believe with all my heart that God gave me this wonderful experience with Theresa for that purpose. Theresa has fully strengthened my belief in miracles and in myself as a nurse. I pray in thanks for that every day! Theresa is a very special little girl who will always hold a very special place in my heart, and whenever I need a smile or a precious memory of "miracles" she will be my first thought. God has something very special in His plans for her! Your family is that rare and precious gift that comes to a fortunate few, and I am so thankful to be one of those so richly blessed.
So you see, our Lord really does bring riches of blessing out of the most evil and destructive acts.
After six weeks at Children's Hospital, Theresa's medical team held a formal evaluation of her progress. Some fifteen health professionals were present to discuss her case and give their recommendations. It seemed to Steve and me that this little child was recovering in record speed and no longer needed full-time care. But would they agree? I was very nervous and asked our friends to be praying.
Each professional gave their report, and it seemed to take forever. At last the head physician summed up. He and the other medical staff were thrilled to be able to work with our daughter. Her remarkable recovery from such extreme trauma was something they had never seen before. She had progressed so quickly it was apparent that she was just about ready for discharge.
I held my breath, hoping for just a few more days. I think he saw my eagerness, and he asked me when I would like to take her home.
Not believing he would ask me, I blurted out, "Tomorrow?"
"That sounds fine," he smiled.
We were on our way HOME.
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Lloyd Johnson, M.D.
Theresa was found and removed from under water about 45 minutes after her abduction. Considering that Steve and Pam began their search immediately after her abductor seized her, and that they were hollering her name through the neighborhood, and that the young man who took her did not take her beyond the neighborhood, he could hardly have failed to hear them searching and thus he must have been forced to rush whatever he was doing to her. Consequently she must have been under water about 40 minutes, and this agrees with the assessment of the paramedics on the scene.
A few people, a very few, have been successfully revived after that long under water, but most if not all of these have been cases where ice-cold water triggered the mammalian diving reflex. Since the water in this case was 60 degrees or warmer, that reflex is unlikely to be a factor.
Medically speaking, irreversible death results from the absence of function in the brain, liver, and kidneys. In Theresa's case there was no equipment monitoring all her vital functions during the critical period. I am convinced, however, that she was in fact clinically dead from the time she was taken out of the creek until some point during the emergency treatment at Kittitas Valley Community Hospital--a period, that is, somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour or so.
What convinces me above all, on top of much additional circumstantial evidence (body temperature fallen to 83 degrees, severe trauma and septicemia from sand and silt in the lungs), is that KVCH measured her pH at 6.32. PH is a measure of the body's acid/alkaline balance; 7.0 is neutral, higher is alkaline, lower is acidic. A normal pH in humans is 7.35 (somewhat alkaline). When it falls below 7.0 the result is a life-threatening condition known as acidosis. A pH as low as Theresa's was measured, at 6.32, is invariably fatal. I have examined the records of other prolonged drowning survivors and have never found a pH anywhere near as low. Since Theresa is alive today, there are really only two possibilities: either her pH measurement was in error, or she was brought back to life and health by divine miracle.
From a medical standpoint, however, a pH that low is consistent with the rest of what we know about her condition when she was found: the length of oxygen deprivation, low body temperature, and so on. To put it simply, she was dead and there was no good medical reason to expect her to revive--and an absolute zero prospect of complete recovery with no brain damage at all.
At what point do we shed our skeptical nature and accept an event such as this as a divine miracle? Children's Orthopedic Hospital, where Theresa was treated during her recovery and rehabilitation, publishes a monthly magazine, and they had Theresa's picture on the front page under the heading "The Miracle Child." They may have meant this loosely or figuratively, but I think all the evidence shows that a miracle is literally what occurred.
I first heard about Theresa's abduction about two hours after she was found, and although I prayed and perhaps brayed to God for her life to be spared, at that time I was probably as steeped in skepticism as the next physician. I was overjoyed when I learned she was alive, and also when I observed her amazingly rapid and complete recovery. It wasn't until I learned all the facts of the case, however, that I realized that a miraculous resurrection is the most consistent explanation and the only plausible one. Many people were praying, and God mercifully responded. Why He doesn't always seem to respond so favorably, I don't know. But in Theresa's case I am more than glad to endorse this as a miracle, and to give God the glory for it.John Harris (Detective Sergeant, Ellensburg Police)
After Theresa was found and taken by ambulance to the hospital, the search for her became a search for her abductor. Members of several police agencies---the city police, County Sheriff's deputies, State Patrol, University Campus Police, and others---joined in a house to house sweep of the whole area. We figured that the young man that Theresa's brother Brian had described might have been seen by local residents or be familiar to them. One resident thought he knew who the young man might be, and directed us to where he lived. We found him there, alone, and from the description we had, I was pretty sure he was our suspect. We advised him of his rights and took him into custody. That same afternoon he volunteered a confession. He was eventually brought to
trial, as an adult and convicted.
When I was a child, my parents took me to church and Sunday School and I went along with it. During high school and college, though, I had I lost whatever faith I might have had. By the time of Theresa's abduction I was a cynical cop---seen it all , and God ain't in it. I was full of questions about how God, if He exists at all, could allow devastating things to happen to innocent people. And at first, Theresa's abduction and (as it seemed) murder was one more big question mark. As I said before, when I first saw Theresa's body, I felt as cold inside as she looked. It was a coldness a lot like despair.
But the events of the next few days changed everything for me. We learned that God had brought her back to life. It had to be God , because she was gone beyond the reach of our human lifesaving measures. And then looking back on it , I could see how God was directing all our efforts---mine, the paramedics, and doctors and nurses, the people who were praying---the whole thing. The woman who actually found Theresa under the culvert was from the one neighborhood house where I had asked for help. I realized what a tremendous privilege it was for me to be hand-picked by God to take part in this miracle. And the result was that I became a believer in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord-and my wife, who was a Christian all along, saw a whole lot of her prayers answered. Here we are ten years later: Theresa is a beautiful young lady and I'm still following after Jesus.
And let me tell you, God is real.
Jeff Treder, (compiler and editor)
During the first year or two following Theresa's release from the hospital, Steve and Pam told their story in a number of churches in the Pacific Northwest. The 700 Club made a short video dramatization of it which they have broadcast many times. But the Johnsons and others felt that this miraculous story needed to be written down to the glory of God. When I learned more about it I came into strong agreement. It was a task suitable to my gifts in the Lord, and so I undertook it.
This is a story of violence and tragedy transfigured into joyous blessing through the miraculous mercy and power of our Lord. The heart of the story, of course, is an innocent, beautiful child raised from the dead by the touch of His hand, just as He raised Jairus's daughter (Luke 8:49-56). You can't top that, and yet there is much more to the story. How the Lord brought Theresa back from death to full, vibrant health, I believe, is a powerful testimony and lesson to the whole body of believers. That is why I subtitled it, "How God Orchestrated a Miracle."
What are we to make of the manifold and intimate involvement of Christian believers in this story from beginning to end? Dreams and visions from the Lord were affecting events from days before the drowning until Theresa was released from the hospital. The paramedics who began her medical treatment were devout men as well as skilled professionals, and they were praying the whole time and laying hands on her little body. Even before she was found, while she was underwater, dying, believers on several prayer chains were praying. While she was in the ICU in Ellensburg and the central miracle was happening, dozens of Christians from various churches gathered at the hospital and prayed, and their prayers were supernaturally guided by the Lord. That evening, when she was transferred to Children's Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle, the story was picked up by newscasts across the nation (maybe God arranged a "slow news" day), and untold thousands of believers added their prayers.
A skeptic might say that all these things were just coincidental and had nothing to do with anything; but I am not a skeptic, and frankly it's hard for me to imagine how anyone could read this story and remain confident in his skepticism. You couldn't possibly strain God out of it. The one irreducible fact is that Theresa was dead and now she is very much alive. It's like the blind man whom Jesus healed, and when the skeptics came quizzing him about it, he replied, "Whether he [Jesus] is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind, but now I see!" (John 9:25)
The "more" in this miracle is the way the Lord mobilized His people, His body, to be actively, intensely involved from beginning to end. They were involved first and foremost in praying, and I believe this story powerfully reinforces all the Biblical exhortations to pray, pray, PRAY! They were involved in her medical treatment and in supporting and encouraging the family throughout the crisis and afterward as well.
Here, I believe, is the reason why Theresa's complete healing took months rather than minutes. Our dear Lord ORCHESTRATED it all, and I am convinced that He means it to be a vivid lesson to us: "Look--do you see?--this is how My church is supposed to function. When you, My people, draw together in prayer and mutual support and encouragement, miracles will come, and all of you will be blessed."
Amen. By His mercy and grace, may we learn well.
Today Theresa is a lovely young woman on whom the hand of God rests as firmly and obviously as when He raised her from the dead. To Him be the glory, now and forever.
This is a very Biblical prayer; God's people have been using it for thousands of years. It reminds us of our place, that of need, and God's place, that of provision. It isn't very fancy, but it seems to be the right prayer for just about any occasion. In Psalm 50:15 God assures us, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."
All Christians have this in common: we all used the "Help, Lord!" prayer when we first called on the Savior, Jesus, to rescue us from our sin and its result, death. The justice of God told us, "The soul that sins shall die." (Ezek. 18:4) Since we knew we were sinners--we had plenty of evidence--we knew we must face death and then stand before God for an accounting. We tremble to think of it! But the wondrous love of God also spoke to us: "God is not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) That amazing love is why God sent His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself the just penalty for all our sin.
God's word tells us that what our enemy Satan meant for evil--the abduction, beating, and drowning of our daughter--God meant for good, so that through the telling of this true story many lives would be saved for eternity. Already many folks have trusted in our Savior as a result of hearing this testimony. The 700 Club did a cut on the story that they play periodically, and each time many more souls come to meet the same Jesus we love. How wonderful and how humbling! We earnestly desire for you to personally know the reality of His love and power.
The Bible clearly states, "To all who received Him [Jesus], to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12) We receive Christ into our life by asking Him to forgive all our sin--that is, to be our personal Savior--and asking Him to take over the governance of our life--that is, to be our personal Lord. If you have read this account of Theresa's miracle and haven't yet asked Jesus into your heart, we sincerely encourage you to do it now. The Bible says, "Now is the day of salvation." Give your life to Jesus and start following Him now. He was not wasting His time as He hung there on the cross. He was pinned to the cross not so much by spikes as by His personal love for you.
Theresa's story is dramatic. The drama that Christ has planned for each of our lives is enthralling. The play is on-going and scheduled to run for all eternity. Get your ticket at the cross.
Thoughts on Spiritual Warfare
We named our first daughter Abundant Rose (Theresa Suzanne). I was mystified when I saw the paramedics roll her dead gray body past us at the entrance to the ER. My heart's impression, which I believed came from God, was that He would use Theresa Suzanne to win many to Jesus Christ. Her death at age two didn't fit any of my concepts of how the Lord would use her life to bring folks into His kingdom.
Too often we assume that hardships and tragedies are always God's will for us and should not be resisted. Sometimes, though, God permits the enemy of our souls to harass us in order to give us the opportunity to be overcomers--to overcome the enemy by exercising our faith. No way were we going to stand by passively while the enemy was dragging Theresa down to death. We were prepared to fight him tooth and claw, calling on the name of Him who is the Resurrection and the Life. Whatever the battle might cost us in exhaustion and frustration, we were determined to give it our best shot.
Jesus told us that Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but He came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). On the sunniest, cheeriest day there is a real but unseen enemy who is working to corrupt our lives with guilt, fear, anxiety, and misery. It is hard for us to appreciate how utterly wicked this adversary is. He loves to inflict loss, sorrow, and death. We have never been instructed in Scripture to lie down and let this fiend trample on us, or to accept his malice as the blessing of God. On the contrary, we are told to resist him, standing firmly in our faith.
It would be a lie to give you the impression that we snapped our fingers, said a prayer and quoted a Scripture or two and then everything was hunky-dory. Our battle was intense, protracted, and excessively draining. There was a time when I became a limp rag, soiled and threadbare. But at that time I felt the body of Christ come and pick me up by the armpits and sustain me. Even with this support, it took us literally months to recuperate from the battle for Theresa and to regain our spiritual and emotional strength. Spiritual warfare is real warfare, and it takes its toll just as physical warfare does. Certainly we are "MORE THAN CONQUERORS" in Christ, but I sometimes wonder at the cavalier attitude some people have about fighting Satan. I wonder how much of the thick of the battle they have really experienced, or is it just bold talk?
Victory in spiritual warfare never comes easily, at little cost. It cost Jesus His very life. So let's be realistic, count the cost, and give our Lord heartfelt thanks and praise for enabling us to fight on His side for righteousness and goodness. His victory in the decisive Battle of Calvary has assured our final triumph in the age-long war.
Thoughts on the Body
It is the wisdom of God that fish swim in schools. Likewise armies fight in ranks for a reason. So it is with the body of Christ. Theresa's story is not about one superstar Christian who prayed and saved the day. It's about many who fought together, led by the Spirit of the Commander in Chief. Had we tried to fight on our own we would have been toast. How grateful we are for His body!
I am astonished every time I hear people say they have a private faith and "don't need to go to church." What a fantastically wrong-headed notion! The Scriptural pictures of the people of God are "gathered together" pictures. The plants are together in the Garden, the stones are together in the Building, the warriors are together in the Army, the members are together in the Body, the children are together in the Family. Our independent mindsets are not just neutral concepts, they are demonic strongholds which the people of God must overcome.
Don't give up on the Church no matter how messy and lethargic she looks, or how exasperated you get with her. She is still the Bride, and the Bridegroom loves her and is faithfully working with her day by day. And one day, not too far off, she will dazzle everyone with her brilliance, enchant everyone with her beauty, and stun everyone with her power.
One more story
We can't tell all the stories that correlate to Theresa's miracle, but here is just one. A believer in Ellensburg whom we didn't know at the time was awakened during the night before the abduction. She saw in a vision a little child being beaten beside a stream. Horrified, she cried out, "Lord, is it my child?"
He answered, "No, but you must pray." So Pam Day prayed through the night for a child she didn't even know. That's the body of Christ for you!
The Completion of the Miracle?
We are often asked about our feelings toward the sixteen year old young man who abducted, beat, and drowned our daughter. Truly, our feelings are miraculous too. From the outset we had no sense of hatred or animosity, no wish for vengeance. We knew that he was a pawn in the hand of Satan. He really did not know what he was doing--as Jesus prayed concerning his torturers.
This young man made no real effort to evade capture and was taken into custody that same day. The county prosecuted him as an adult for kidnapping and attempted murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. The judge was concerned that he had psychopathic tendencies and needed to be in permanent detention. We prayed for the prosecution and defense teams and we felt that both performed honorably.
The young man's defense lawyer, now Superior Court Judge Michael Cooper, is a good friend to this day. It saddened us to learn that this young man had struggled in school as a slow learner, been the brunt of cruel schoolyard jokes, and wound up a social outcast. He is the very sort of person Jesus said He was looking for! It grieves us that this had to happen. I went to visit him in jail to assure him of our forgiveness and love for him. I tried to express the love of our Lord Jesus for him, and prayed for him. We feel that God shielded us wonderfully from the temptation to hate or become bitter. I think the Lord had us so focused on pursuing His kingdom that we had no time for that stuff.
After the trial we occasionally visited the young man's mother in a desire to assure her of our concern for the welfare of their family and to pray for them as we could. We desire the very best for this young man. We pray for him and from time to time I write him a letter, but he has never responded. We feel that the miracle will not be complete until his life is totally transformed by the love and power of God. We would appreciate your prayers for him. We'd like to write a glorious ending for his story.
The limits of God's goodness haven't yet been tested. None of us has yet been rebuked for overboldness at the throne of Grace. There are not many Joshuas who command the sun and moon to stop. There are not many Elijahs calling down God's fire, nor many Peters raising Tabithas from the dead. But we are now entering a "fullness of time" when the unimaginable dimensions of God's power and love will be revealed in response to the unified, concerted, heartfelt, persevering prayers of His people.
So let's take God at His word and lay hold of His promises. Why would He make so many "great and precious promises" if He didn't intend to honor them? Let's ask for big, impossible-sounding things that will bring fame to our glorious King. Let's pray that whole cities, even whole nations will become open and receptive to the gospel. Why not think big? We can never think as big as He does.
What is Theresa like today? She is the girl who sings out full blast her own original songs over the roar of the riding lawnmower. She is the girl who daydreams at the kitchen sink and dances before the Lord in the living room. She loses herself in her novels and weeps when she prays for others. She shines out in the choir, giggles in her room with her friends, and rides her bike down the lane to get the mail.
Theresa is the one we need to pry out of bed in the morning and call more than once to set the table. She is the one who spars with her big brother and reacts marvelously to his teasing. She reads to her little sisters and sews with her Mom or Grandma. Sometimes she gets hooked on computer games and wriggles in the chair with great yelps at the on-screen perils. Most importantly, she gives kisses to her Dad. We all know that God gives daughters so they can give kisses to Dads.
Theresa is the imaginative one in the family. She is the born actress practicing among us her animated displays of sorrow and ecstasy, alarm and boredom. There are times when we wish she were more mundane and practical, but if anyone in our family could make it on the stage it would be Theresa.
Like any adolescent she has times of shyness and uncertainty. She gets embarrassed and upset with me when I say to someone, "Have you met my beautiful daughter?"
And we have this treasure alive with us today!! We truly give thanks to our loving God for His mercy. Theresa has brought the bounty and beauty of God into our lives. I often tease her about having to get my shotgun to fight off the boys. And every so often I rehearse with her, "Theresa, when a young man comes to you and says, 'Theresa, you're so wonderful. Will you marry me?' What do you say?" She responds with that "Oh, Dad!" kind of affectionate exasperation, "Go talk to my father!"
During Theresa's stay at Children's Hospital someone gave me a lullaby tape. We put it in her little tape player and she pushed the buttons to make it play. How she loved those lullabies!
The ritual began with brushing teeth and getting ready for bed. There was the stuffed animal, the blanket, the kisses, and the favorite songs we always sang to her like "Jesus loves me, this I know." Then we let her start her lullaby tape.
At home some months later, one afternoon I put that same tape in a player.
Theresa was coloring at the table and I started doing something nearby.
As the tune of the first lullaby filled our ears, "Winken and Blinken
and Nod, one night, sailed in a wooden shoe," Theresa and I both burst
into tears and I swept her into my arms. Holding tight to each other,
we let the cleansing tears flow.