Living the Call Together

Without Even Knowing It

By Dennis Whalen

It was a typical Indian summer day in late September 1982 in New City, New York. My message for Sunday would focus on 2 Corinthians 4:7–11, which begins: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” As I was preparing my sermon about having wonderful, life-changing power in jars of clay, in bodies that are very fragile, I got a terrible headache and could barely see the words I was writing. I left my Bible on my desk open to this passage and walked the few hundred yards home. My wife, Patty, put me right to bed.

I woke up the next morning with photophobia, a condition in which the presence of light causes intense pain. Patty packed me up, and off we went to the doctor. He immediately suspected meningitis and admitted me to the hospital. The doctors gave me codeine and Tylenol for my headache, and I had a spinal tap that proved negative for meningitis. I actually began to feel better. The following morning, things looked good, and the doctor was talking about releasing me the next day.

Unfortunately, the next morning I awoke with a 105-degree fever, and I was covered from my head to my waist in blisters. I was moved to intensive care so I could be monitored closely, but the doctors were not holding out much hope. Three different specialists and three opinions later, the medical team decided that I had encephalitis along with Stevens-Johnson syndrome (an abnormal reaction to the medication they had given me). One doctor told Patty to gather the family because I had only two hours to live; another said that if I did live, I would be blind. Yet another said I would have brain damage (there is a joke in here somewhere).

The good news is that I got sick in late September. Back then, most of the C&MA district prayer conferences were held during that two- or three-week period. So the word began to get out about this young missionary candidate who was in the hospital near death. Christians from all over the country called Patty to say they were fasting and praying. In fact, my own father-in-law asked the Lord to take him instead of me. Leaders from within The Alliance came to my bedside to pray for me, although I was too sick to remember them being there. But God was doing something through His people. I was improving, and after one week in intensive care (the best week of rest I have ever had), the doctor moved me to a private room.

When he came to release me from the hospital, my doctor said that there was no medical reason for me to be alive. He couldn’t figure it out. Everywhere that the blisters could have caused damage, they didn’t. They were all around my eyes but not in them. They were all around my mouth but not down my throat.

That was when I was able to tell him that his training could only go so far—the prayers of God’s people had made the difference. God chose to heal me because of the faithful prayers of members of The Alliance as they lived the call together with me before there ever was such a slogan. God’s people, responding to a need, got down on their knees and prayed for someone they didn’t even know. Sounds biblical, doesn’t it?

Prayer is the primary work of the people of God (see Phil. 4:6–7). We may never know how our prayers have impacted the world. Many of the people who prayed for me 25 years ago have now gone to be with their Great Physician. I wish that I could have thanked each one personally. If you were one of those people, I am still grateful for your prayers! They were answered. But your job—our job—is not finished; we must continue to live the call together, each and every one of us. We must faithfully storm the throne on behalf of those who are lost in darkness or sick or discouraged or preparing for or involved in ministry both here in the United States and around the world. Living the Call together is far more than a slogan.

Dennis Whalen is the vice president for Development at the U.S. C&MA National Office in Colorado Springs, Colo.

What You Can Do


The prayers of the Alliance family allow Alliance workers to live and serve all over the world. Pray with the rest of the Alliance family using our weekly Alliance Prayer requests.


Read this and other articles in the July 2008 online edition of alife magazine.


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