The Ashland Beacon
Two months and two days after collapsing at the conclusion of a Sunday evening service, brother Mike Rice returned to preaching at Fairview Baptist Church. With the biggest crowd Fairview has seen in a long time and with many of the people responsible for saving Mike’s life, the church welcomed their pastor back with thanksgiving Sunday morning.
On Sunday, June 10, Mike preached his normal Sunday morning services at 8:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. “I went home and took my customary nap,” said Brother Mike, explaining what he remembered from that day. Then, as he wrapped up his service that evening, the rest of his testimony is told to him by witnesses.
“Mike fell back and we thought his blood sugar had dropped,” said Dr. Ish Stevens, who was in the congregation that night.
“My son Seth held me up,” said Rice. Dr. Stevens started to realize that Mike was not breathing and he could not find a pulse.
“I thought he was gone” said his son, Seth Rice.
Two years prior to this incident, pastor Mike had been approached by some church members to get an automated external defibrillator (AED), not knowing that he would be the first one the church would use it on. Dr. Stevens was handed the AED that night and he began working.
Church member Rick Thompson went across the street to get the Westwood Volunteer Fire Department members to come assist. The volunteers rushed over with their medical car and began performing CPR. “He was barely breathing
and I asked everyone to move away,” said Carl Jones of the WVFD.
“Everyone was out of the sanctuary circled together praying,” recalled Matt Green, another member of Fairview Baptist that was present that night. “The last thing I remember is Don Holbrook praying at the front of the church.”
Before the EMTs took Mike away from the church, he had gasped for air, was breathing on his own and had a pulse but was still unresponsive.
Family, friends, and church members gathered at the hospital waiting to hear what was going to happen. Mike’s daughter Elisha, who lives in Michigan, rushed to get home, not knowing the severity of her dad’s condition. Her Facebook began running rampant with prayer requests and kind words. “It made her trip a lot longer once she found out what was going on,” said Brother Mike.
Doctors immediately began cooling down his body temperature as a way to reboot his system. They said that he was estimated to have been without oxygen for five to eight minutes and anyone without oxygen for as little as three minutes can have severe brain damage. They said that even if he survived, Mike’s quality of life would probably be diminished.
Elisha said that he would squeeze her hand when she spoke to him. Mike’s wife Lisa thought otherwise. “She was trying to prepare them,” said Mike.
On Wednesday of that week, they started to thaw out his body. Expecting him to start waking up around six that evening, he woke up much earlier, around noon. Rice said that Dr. Julian Lopez at King’s Daughters Medical Center, snapped his fingers, called his name and he immediately opened his eyes.
Once Rice started to respond, they were able to take out his ventilator. They kept claiming his condition as “miraculous” and just when they thought he was on the mend, pneumonia set in. Seth asked if there was a good chance of him surviving the pneumonia and doctors were doubtful. Countless people continued to pray.
“Miraculously,” Rice recovered from the pneumonia and his doctor said his lungs sounded great and his brain function was great also. Although internally he was doing better, he was delusional and stubborn throughout these eight days at the hospital. He tried to pull out his ventilator, tried to get out of his bed and claimed to know things that didn’t make a bit of sense.
Once he was taken off some medications, he was back to his normal self. Fully functioning, like nothing had ever happened. He was visited by many friends, church members, and his granddaughters. “People I didn’t even know were coming to visit and saying they were praying for me,” said Rice.
Once he was fully functioning, Rice was taken to Health South for more recovery. They told him that he would be there for likely two weeks, if not a month. Rice went in on Monday and by Thursday of that week, he was totally free and out of his wheel chair and returned home Saturday morning.
Rice had many people all over the country praying for him. His wife and children stayed right by his side the whole time, with tears, anticipation, and worry. Doctors claim that this is nothing short of a miracle. There is no explanation for it other than that God performed a miracle.
“I cannot boast in myself but only in the glory of God,” said Rice on Sunday morning. He wants to tell everyone to be ready, because you never know when it can happen to you. “Tell people you love them, because it means so much.”