Thanks to scores of you who have prayed for David Stopke and the Stopke family since I posted their story a few days ago. I have now been to Las Vegas and am back home again in Illinois. David was able to hear me speak to him on Tuesday and heard my prayers for him. His eyes filled with tears as he tried to thank me several times. He could move his head and clearly acknowledged my presence there. It was so moving to spend these moments with him. Other visits did not elicit the same kind of response so I am profoundly grateful I had this first one on Tuesday around 1:00 p.m. local time. I wish I could have been there much longer but I was able to accomplish my pastoral desire to minister to him in this hour of life and death.
Today and tomorrow (April 23-24) I am working with two film producers a film for an ACT 3 video. We hope to produce three different versions: 1) A longer version for a DVD to give away and out on our Web site; 2) A shorter version to show to churches and groups before I speak, a kind of introduction tape; 3) And a You Tube version. This whole project has been planned for some months. A donor found the guys to film it. I wish the timing of this project was different but this is when God set it up. Several friends will join us to share about the ministry of ACT 3 on film. Pray for all that goes into this two-day work.
On Friday evening I also speak in Chicago on the Apostles Creed and then Saturday morning we have our first Carol Stream ACT 3 Breakfast. So this is a very full week.
David went to go to surgery Wednesday afternoon, just after I left Las Vegas to fly home. This surgery was to repair the vertebrae where the bullet entered his neck. They had to cancel this surgery once they were in the operating theater because of the excess fluid in his lungs. It appears now that he may have pneumonia. This, as you well know, can be fatal. So David is not out of the woods at all. If he lives he will very likely be paralyzed from the neck down, or so everyone believes at this point. The family is prepared to live with the trials or to let David go home. There peace is clearly a gift from God.
The accident itself, I learned in Las Vegas, was rooted in a series of unusual occurrences. Early on April 16 David's wife (Eva) saw a man trying to break into their front door. (The outdoor night lights were off in order to save money.) Eva was, quite obviously, very frightened. The police were called but the man got away. The next day David asked his son to clean his gun in case he might need it. The cleaning was completed and the gun, an older pistol, was reloaded and cocked properly but then David's son Jesse had his finger slip and the gun fired into David's neck at close range. He was then flown from Havasu to Las Vegas. The surgery on the carotid was done immediately but the neck surgery was delayed until all David's vital signs were stabilized. When I left on Wednesday David's vital signs were all good. The concern is always about infection (thus large doses of antibiotics are used) and pneumonia. The latter is now a very serious concern.
In all of this I am struck by the way life can go along just as we plan things and then something totally unforeseen happens. In a heart beat everything changes for us and for scores of people who love us. It makes me very aware that my days are numbered and that my Heavenly Father is the one who knows and plans all my days. Providence is a sweet doctrine when believers need a place to put their head at night when their trials are so big. Pray for the Stopke family. Eva is doing very well and is demonstrating a godly response to the tragedy of these last few days. Either way this turns out she will never be the same, nor will David's four adult children.