"Out of the Wreckage"
"Hey, thanks, Michael. Why dont you go on home now? You look dead-tired."
Michaels friend had no idea how close to literally true his words would come.
Thirty-two-year-old Michael Koh adjusted his glasses as he rubbed his eyes. Every night for the past week he had spent long hours overseeing the deliverance team at the evening rallies of international evangelist Reinhard Bonkke in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia. Several churches in the area had collaborated to staff the rallies with nearly one thousand counselors, of whom twenty had specific training in deliverance--many of these from the church Michael pastored.
This Sunday night closed out the campaign, but by the time Michael eased into his Toyota Corona and headed for home down the highway to Petaling Jaya, a nearby western suburb, the clock hands had crept past midnight into early Monday, November 20, 1989. Fighting a fever as well as drowsiness, Michaels mind drifted back to the message God had given him when he had awakened that morning praying. It seemed so long ago now! During the morning service of his 600-member church, Vision Valley Centre, Michael had repeated the message to the congregation.
"The Lord is indicating that some very heavy activity in the spiritual realm is coming," he had told them, "and there will be an intense battle from today onward. For some of us, our lives will never be the same out of this."
Michael drove on down the highway, normally well traveled but almost deserted at 12:30 a.m. Just as he neared a construction site, he fell asleep at the wheel. His right foot sagged down on the accelerator, and the Toyota plowed straight into a large stationary crane with a sickening crunch of twisting metal.
The front end of the car seemed to fold in on him. The steering wheel hit his chest and broke, while glass and metal tore at his face. In an instant it was over. Now fully awake and conscious, Michael felt a burning pain radiate from his right upper leg. What alarmed him most was that he could see absolutely nothing. His right eye was filled with glass from his eyeglasses, crushed and ground into the cornea. His left eye--well, Michael could not quite tell even where it was. His whole face, in fact, seemed to have been ripped into a bloody mess.
In the deathly quiet Michael heard a voice that made his skin crawl, not quite audible but just as clear.
So you think God is a loving Father? the diabolic voice cackled. What do you have to say about this, then? Its just as you said--your life will never be the same.
From somewhere inside his spirit, Michael pulled out words that challenged even him at that moment.
"I know that its especially in a situation like this that God will show just how loving He is," he murmured aloud in a rebuke of the devils lies.
About ten minutes passed. Michael heard a car slow down and pull over. Then a voice: "Oh, my God!" And the car sped off again, leaving him in silence.
After perhaps ten more minutes, another vehicle pulled over. Michael heard only low, unfriendly mumbles. He could not tell what they were doing.
Just then a third car stopped. More voices: "Hey, get away from him! Beat it, you guys!"
Two new voices addressed him with concern.
"Those guys were about to try to rip you off or something," one explained. "They probably thought you were dead."
Somehow his rescuers pretzeled him out of the mangled Toyota, flagged down a passing van and removed seats in the back of the van to lay Michael on the floor. Still he could see nothing. Ten or fifteen minutes later they arrived at the emergency room entrance of a hospital in Petaling Jaya, where Michael learned the horrifying truth.
"Doctor! This guys eyeball is hanging out!" an orderly hollered.
All the sounds of the emergency room came through extra clearly to Michaels sight-deprived brain. As the ER personnel scrambled about him, he heard every gasp, gag and groan: "Poor guy." "Poor fellow." "No way this guys going to see again." "How gruesome." "Dang, this guys messed up." "Ugh, Im going to vomit."
The doctors stabilized the broken femur in Michaels right leg and gave him a tetanus jab. Amazingly Michael had suffered no serious chest injuries from the broken steering wheel. But an eye specialist on call came in and spelled out the facts for him.
"Your face has been severely lacerated," she said, "and this eye"--referring to the left one--"is completely smashed. Dont expect ever to see from it again."
The medical team pushed the eyeball into its socket and began sewing up the side of Michaels face with 42 stitches. Because they feared brain damage, the doctors could not risk giving Michael any anesthesia.
Throughout, Michael remained conscious and tried to pray. He had asked someone to notify his church staff, and knew they would be interceding even then.
At one point he felt a strong sense of the Lords presence. Distinctly he heard whispered words: Im going to heal you.
The eye specialist and her assistants hovered over him for a few hours, cleaning out as much glass from his eyes as possible and setting the loose eyeball back into place. She was still stitching him together about 4 a.m. when Michael spoke up suddenly, his voice urgent and excited.
"Doctor, I can see something! I can see from both eyes! Its blurry, but I can see!"
"Theres no way. Its not possible. Youve got some phantom neurological activity, maybe--thats all."
"But I can really see!" he insisted. "Test me out!"
She held her hand close in front of Michaels face. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
Michael looked carefully through a hazy blur.
"One, two, three, four--yeah, four. Praise God! I can see!" he shouted again.
The room began to buzz with the news while the doctor shook her head and finally conceded, "Yeah--praise God, I guess. I dont know how its possible."
When she finished stitching, the medical team dressed his wounds, wrapping bandages around Michaels head, including his eyes. They transferred him to a ward and began arrangements to set his leg in traction later that same Monday.
Sometime around midday a nurse came to change Michaels dressings. When she finished unwinding the bandages around his head, he almost gasped for joy.
"My Lord, I can see a lot more clearly! O God, praise You! Its almost like my normal, uncorrected vision!"
No one could find any explanation.
A team from orthopedic surgery drilled a nail into Michaels knee in preparation for traction, when a member of Michaels church, a medical specialist, came to the hospital. He made arrangements quickly to transfer Michael to another hospital in the city equipped to perform a more advanced operation. That evening in the new hospital, surgeons opened Michaels thigh and inserted a pin into his leg through the marrow, holding the femur together where it had made a clean break.
Michael remained in the hospital for a month. Another surgeon performed plastic surgery on Michaels face, taking more than two hundred stitches in the process.
Over time his skin healed well enough that a casual observer would not immediately notice the scars behind his glasses. And his new glasses needed a less powerful prescription for correction than the old pair. Tests about four weeks later indicated that his eyesight was better than before.
During that hospital stay an old friend came to visit. Six or eight years ago "David" had attended a church Michael had planted in Kuantan, across Peninsular Malaysia on the east coast. But he had decided not to pursue the Christian life.
"Hey, Michael!" David greeted him. "I heard you were laid up. Howre you doing?"
"What are you doing in town?" Michael answered. "Good to see you!"
The two talked for quite a while as Michael described his accident and what God had done in healing him.
"The eye specialists say its miraculous--theyve never seen anything like this happen. I give all the glory to God."
David listened intently, blinked back tears and looked down, shaking his head.
"Man, I need to get right with God," he blurted out. "The Lord is calling me back--I know it. You know, Ive been involved in gangs, even leading one of them. But nothing satisfies. I need God in my life and the kind of power and love youre describing."
David prayed with Michael by the hospital bed and gave his heart to the Lord.
Several other Malaysian friends came to Christ, too, when they heard the testimony of Michaels miraculous healing.
And God had even bigger things in mind.
About a week before Christmas 1989, Michael went home from the hospital. On Christmas Day he attended a special morning service and greeted his church family for the first time since the accident. The guest speaker, Ken Newton from Australia, a friend of about four years, had just concluded the service when the Lord gave him a prophetic message for Michael.
In front of the congregation, Ken shared what he had heard: "Within a very short time after this accident, God is going to use this to expand His Kingdom, and you are going to be out of Malaysia soon. The Lord says He is going to use you to raise up people who will know God, display strength and do exploits."
Just after the start of the new year, Michael returned to work at the church. He got around easily on crutches with the pin in his leg--maybe too easily. Twice the metal pin worked its way out the back of his hip, and he had to return briefly to the hospital where doctors knocked it back in with a mallet. Eventually they removed the pin because the bone was healing so quickly, although Michael remained on crutches for six months or so.
In June 1990 Michael prepared to fly to the United States for his annual summer course work at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena--advanced training that would help him with church growth and church planting in Malaysia. Before he left, his prayer partners gathered to intercede for him. Several received similar impressions from the Holy Spirit: "You will meet a group of people youve never known before. But you will not go to them--theyll come to you. They will hear about what God has done in your life with this miracle, and they will want to learn from you and be mentored."
As Michael studied in his cubbyhole apartment in a Fuller housing complex, he kept in touch by phone with his prayer partners back home. During each call one of them would ask, "Have you met this group of people yet?" Michaels repeated answer: "No, not yet."
Hitching around campus on his crutches, Michael attracted friendly inquiries about what had happened. One woman he chatted with, Jennie Genske, called him later to see if they could get together for a breakfast meeting. Michael agreed, but they did not set a specific day. Meanwhile, a couple of weeks passed and one of his Malaysian prayer partners phoned again.
"Have you met this group of people?"
"No, not yet."
"Well,"; said the intercessor, "I have a feeling youre going to meet them very, very soon."
The two finished their conversation and Michael hung up the phone. With his hand still grasping the warm receiver, the phone rang again. It was Jennie Genske with a proposal.
"Ive got some friends I think would be very interested to get to know you. Well be free during Labor Day weekend. Do you think you could come do a day of teaching with us?"
Although Michael had yet to meet any of the others, including Jennies husband, he agreed.
About a dozen people gathered the first weekend of September for a morning and afternoon of teaching. The mostly twenty- and thirtysomething college graduates and business people bonded in a special way as the Holy Spirit moved in their midst.
Michael returned to Malaysia shortly afterward, but by January 1991 the network of friends decided to continue meeting informally for fellowship in one anothers homes. Following Michaels summer study that year, the group began to see themselves more as a new church plant. By summer 1992 the network had a definite identity, although the membership evolved a bit. Michael met his future bride while in the States, and in the fall of 1992 Cindy joined him in Malaysia for the last six months of their engagement. They married in April 1993, relocated permanently to Pasadena and launched Vision Christian Fellowship in May 1993 with about thirty members.
Ken Newtons prophecy, three and a half years after its Christmas Day reception, had largely found fulfillment. Although at the time Michael had dreamed only of building the Church in Malaysia, the Lord had led him out of that country altogether. Many who joined the new church or heard Michael speak gave their lives to Christ after an initial invitation to "come see someone whos been miraculously healed from a terrible accident." Less than a year after its founding, the Pasadena church grew to over one hundred and began initiating new fellowships.
Your life will never be the same. The Lords word to Michael on the morning before his accident still echoes in his memory. It has proved true for himself as well as scores of others.