COVID-19: My Testimony.
Updated: Aug 3, 2020
(Covid-19 under a microscope. Picture from Duluthtribune.com)
“God sends tests, not because He needs to learn about us, but because we need to learn about us. Trials of faith show our hidden weaknesses thus giving us opportunities for unexpected growth as we respond to the tests in faith.” From the book, "Spiritual Disciplines." Robin Johnston and Karen Myers, Editors.
Jesus is the ultimate specialist on dealing with people. Since He is God and the Almighty Creator, He knows what to do in every circumstance. He understands and cares about every difficulty, temptation, trial, sickness, and affliction. We find evidence of this in the myriad of miracles and signs recounted in the Word of God from the very beginning of the Old Testament through the end of the New Testament.
As we walk the path called life on our journey of faith, there are many formidable dangers we may encounter in our world. Some of these threats are out in the open and plainly visible, while others are not discernible to the naked eye and cannot be seen without the assistance of a microscope. However, although we cannot readily see them, these invisible dangers are definitely not hidden from Jesus.
Sicknesses, trials, temptations, and difficulties may be described as storms of life. There are times when Jesus sends a storm into our life in order to grow us spiritually. Other times, I believe He allows us to go through the storms of life that just happen to be in our path. Sometimes He protects us by redirecting us around the storms in life’s pathway. Does Jesus know what will happen to us as we maneuver through each situation? Yes, of course He does. Not only does Jesus know the end from the beginning, He also knows how we will handle every trouble, sickness, or circumstance.
Our Heavenly Father understands that storms create a special “classroom” where we can learn about who we really are. Little did I know at the beginning of this year, an invisible storm would affect not only me, but my family and loved ones. This storm became the most daunting path that my beautiful family and I have traversed to this point in our lives. I include my family, for although this storm affected me the most physically, they are part of me, and it was very difficult for them, too.
I would like to preface this testimony by stating that before all this happened, I was a healthy, 45-year-old man who took no prescription medications for anything. Now, to my story.
Friday, March 13th, I drove home from Wentzville, Missouri, after being there all week at Urshan Graduate School of Theology for a class lecture on the Studies in the Gospel of John. It was an excellent course, and my heart was full. I was inspired and ready to get back home so I could dig deep in the Word during my personal devotion time as well as in my sermon and teaching preparation. As always, I was ready to be back home with my lovely wife, Sara, and our four daughters. The Lord has seen fit to bless our family with a late addition, daughter number four, who was nearly ten months old at the time, and we had family coming into town for her dedication at our church the next day. My parents were driving in from South Texas the next day, bringing two of my nephews with them. Sara’s parents would drive from East Oklahoma the day of the dedication. Other family also drove over from neighboring towns in the Oklahoma City metro area. We are so thankful for the love and support of our parents and extended family.
In a beautiful ceremony on Sunday, March 15th, we dedicated our adorable baby girl back to the Lord. I would estimate we had almost thirty family members and close friends on the platform celebrating this solemn, yet joyous, occasion. My pastor and his wife prayed a special blessing over not only our sweet baby, but over our entire family. The love of God surrounded us, and we felt His presence in a powerful way. After the church service our entire extended family and a few friends went back to our house for a great time of fellowship and dinner. Individuals and family units left gradually; hugs and prayers, then the good-byes drifting back until the last person was gone. In the wake of all the excitement, the house was extra still and quiet after everyone had gone. It was good to be home.
Monday morning, March 16th, my parents and nephews dropped by on their way back out of town. We enjoyed a time of visiting with them over a delicious breakfast prepared by Sara and our oldest daughter. After they headed out, we had just a few more hours until I needed to leave for work. My job schedule alternates between day and night shifts. That week I was scheduled to go in at 5:30 PM each evening and work to 5:30 AM the next morning. I left for work that Monday evening with a thankful heart for the safe trip to and from St. Louis and the wonderful weekend I had just enjoyed. I had no thought there might be anything unusual on the horizon. However, after I left for work Monday evening, daughter number three, who had gone home with one of Sara’s sisters, came back from her aunt’s house because she was not feeling well. She had a little bit of an upset stomach and wanted to come home. She was back to feeling fine by Tuesday afternoon, so we thought all was well. Little did we know.
Wednesday morning, Sara woke up not feeling well, and our eldest daughter began to get sick as the day progressed. Daughter number two, who had gone back Monday evening with her aunt, returned home with another aunt and uncle Wednesday afternoon because she was not feeling well. They had made the trip to bring their youngest daughter home because she was also not feeling well. Our family is generally pretty healthy, so this was pretty unusual for so many to be sick at one time. We had no idea what was happening.
Wednesday night around 10:30 PM, while at work, I began to feel sick. As I sat at my desk, I began to feel chills, and my body began to ache. Pain started in my feet and then radiated up through the rest of my body. To be honest, I really did not think anything of it at the time. The flu goes around from time to time, and I always seem to be the one who gets it the worst. I figured it must be my turn to get the flu for 2020. However, then my wife sent me a text message telling me that everybody at home was sick except our baby and daughter number three. I thought, “Oh, great. Here we go. We are all getting the flu.” All Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, I shivered and experienced tremendous body aches. When 5:30 AM Thursday morning rolled around, I very gratefully went home, took some Nyquil, and crawled into bed. Oddly enough, in spite of my exhaustion and indisposed condition, I slept very little.
I took DayQuil all day Thursday along with a plethora of vitamins to try boosting my immune system. By the time I went back to work Thursday night, still not feeling well, our baby had developed a fever, my wife was still sick, our two teenage girls were getting better, and our 8-year-old was fine.
I sat at my desk all Thursday evening into Friday morning, sick with body pain, chills, headache, and cough, with a fever no less than 99 degrees, many times pushing 100. Thankfully, the night-shift is just a one-man job, and nobody else was there. I carefully disinfected everything before I left the next morning, still thinking I just had the seasonal flu. At home, I again tried to get some sleep. Surely, since I had not been able to sleep the day before, I would be exhausted enough to fall asleep. But I was not.
Later in the day on Friday, I made a phone call to my director at work to let her know I was not feeling well and was not sure if I would be able to work the next week. My wife had taken our baby to the doctor Friday morning, where she was diagnosed with strep and given Azithromycin. At this point, we started getting texts letting us know that some of the other people who had been at the baby dedication were also not well. We decided since our baby had been diagnosed with strep, that was probably what we and everybody else had. We exclaimed over what a very strong and vicious strain of strep it must be.
By Friday evening, Sara and all four of our girls were feeling better and definitely on the upward turn. Although the physical ailment was all over for them, it was only the beginning for me.
I would like to insert here that by the end of that week Covid-19 was now being talked about locally as well as nationally; however, the news reports were changing from day to day as far as symptoms, making it difficult to pin down any particular thing. Oklahoma had had her first death, but it still all seemed to be something that was far away from me. The news was indicating the cases were few and in areas distant from my personal sphere of contact.
As the days went by, this was clearly proven to not be the case. By the time churches, stores, and restaurants in our area closed, the virus was already widespread. Nonetheless, our company had taken precautions way in advance, and we already had procedures in place to keep our departments clean and sanitized. For instance, in my department, each employee had their own keyboard, mouse, pen, notepad, etc. We also had to completely wipe down with Lysol any objects, such as phones and workstations, used by both day and night shifts. Also, Day and Night shift operators worked in different buildings for preventative measures.
Friday afternoon when I called my director, Melie Vincent, she informed me that I needed to get tested for Covid-19 on Monday the 23rd, no questions asked. She said I would not be able to come back to work until I had been tested. I thought it was strange, but since I had no choice, Sara called my primary care doctor. Because it had been more than three years since I had seen him, I was bumped to new patient status, and they were not taking any new patients. In fact, they would not see me at all. We weren’t sure what to do about a doctor, so since it was getting late Friday evening, we decided to wait and make some calls on Monday.
Saturday night I felt so sick that my wife wanted me to go to Urgent Care, but instead I called a 24-hour doctor offered through my medical insurance. He thought it sounded like the flu, but it was too late in my sickness to prescribe Tamiflu and he could not help with a Covid-19 test. I spent the entire weekend feeling sick, and no amount of ibuprofen, Gatorade, or water helped my fever and pain.
Around 3:00 AM or so on Monday morning it felt like my fever broke, and I was able to get some sleep. I woke up some time between 8:00 and 9:00 AM, and my wife and I headed to the Urgent Care. We had to park in the parking lot and call them when we arrived. When they were ready for me, they notified me by phone, and I went in by myself, leaving Sara alone in the car praying and sending out texts as family asked how I was doing. The place was empty except for the few employees they had working, and everyone was wearing masks and gloves. I got tested for the flu and strep, and both tests came back negative. Also, a chest X-ray was done. So, at that point, Covid-19 tests were a little scarce, so they were only administered to at-risk people. Being a generally healthy 45-year-old man, I was not classified in the at-risk category, so they wanted to tell me to quarantine for 14 days, just in case, and send me home.
In order to get tested, there were several phone calls being made between my director, higher ups in my company, and the State of Oklahoma as well as the higher ups at Urgent Care. Since I am a state employee and the nature of what my position entails, Urgent Care finally agreed to test me. Well, the test for Covid-19 was not pleasant. They then told me it could be 5-7 days before they got the results. I was hoping to be completely over whatever I had way before then.
After being at Urgent Care for 3 ½ hours, the only prescription they gave me was Azithromycin (Z Pack) for a viral respiratory illness and cough. On our way home, my wife and I began to pray for my test to come back negative. We prayed throughout the day, firmly believing that God would answer our prayer.
By late Monday evening, my fever was back up. It did not make sense to us because after leaving the Urgent Care, I had felt somewhat on the mend. My only symptom was a hard, painful cough. Monday night, my fever was staying between 100 and 101 degrees, and my cough was harder and more persistent. My chest felt heavy, like weights bearing down on me. I had trouble breathing. Taking ibuprofen did not help with my fever. At all. Neither did the Z pack. My cough persisted throughout the night.
Tuesday’s symptoms mirrored Monday’s, but breathing was becoming more difficult when I lay down to rest. My oxygen levels would drop from 91 while sitting up, to the low 80’s when I was lying down. Rather than going to bed, in an effort to keep my oxygen levels up, I sat up more so I could breathe. My wife and I prayed fervently. We had numerous church members as well as family across the country praying for me. Up to this point, having Covid-19 did not even cross my mind. It was still something someone elsewhere had, but not I.
Wednesday morning, March 25th, I woke up feeling extremely exhausted due to lack of sleep and low oxygen levels. I was feeling a little better, though, and even came out of my room and sat with my family. Around 11:00 AM, I received the phone call that rocked my world. The individual on the other end verified it was me, then quietly informed me that my Covid-19 test came back positive. I was silent for a brief second, then in a terse tone, told the caller, “You must have the wrong person because there is no way I could have it.” The person restated my name and date of birth, then asked, “I have the right person, yes?” Again I was silent for a moment, then I began to cry. The caller began to express their sympathies, then told me I had to quarantine myself for fourteen days, no contact with anyone. If during that time I needed to talk to anyone, there was a hotline I could call for depression and other emotional issues. I quickly told them, “No, thank you,” and ended the call.
Stunned, I went to my wife and broke the news to her. She couldn’t believe it, either. Again, this was something that happened somewhere else, not to us.
I went to my bedroom and stood there and wept. I whispered, “Why, God? Why!?” Then I cried out loudly, “Why!? This cannot be happening to me!” My wife and I first alerted family and our pastor, then I also notified several other people for prayer including the wonderful staff at UGST. I then called my director to let her know. Melie was extremely sympathetic and expressed her good wishes for me to get well, and if there was anything that I needed to let her know.
The remainder of that Wednesday, I prayed and read my Bible. I also turned on the BOTT version of “Waymaker,” and played it over and over and over again. I watched preaching from Bro. Calvin Jean, Raymond Woodward, Anthony Mangun, and Jeff Arnold in addition to several Because of the Times sermons to strengthen my faith. I listened to sermons all the rest of the day into early evening. I paced my bedroom tearfully petitioning, but also worshipping. I told Jesus how much I loved Him. I told Him how much I needed Him. I began to pray, “I need You to be a RIGHT NOW GOD. I need HEALING RIGHT NOW, JESUS!” My healing did not come. Then I apologized and repented for ordering Him and telling Him what needs to be done. You know, patience is not something we always choose, so at times patience will choose us.
I personalized Psalm 91 over and over; I quoted Isaiah 41:10, 13-14; then chapter 53, and Jeremiah 33:3 repeatedly. I prayed Psalm 23 again and again. I said, “God, I know You are my Healer. You are the Great Physician. There is nothing too hard for You.”
To be totally transparent, my mind kept racing over and over about death. I evaluated my heart to see if there was any unforgiveness or unrepented sin. I repented again and made sure my heart was right. I read Scriptures about forgiveness. Fear crept into my bedroom and lurked in the corners as I began staying up to date (due to a lack of sleep and wanting to stay informed) with the news and listening to talking points with the whole political bantering.
Recognizing what was happening, I had to turn them off. I again began to quote Scripture; I rebuked the devil’s lies, fear, and unbelief. With faith and authority, I began to rebuke Covid-19 out of my body. I began to plead the blood of Jesus over my mind and body. “I have been set free. I am on my way to Heaven. God is on my side, who can be against me!” I kept praying, worshipping, and praising God. But my body only kept getting worse. “How can this be? How? I am a man of faith. God can and will heal. I am a man of faith that speaks faith. What is going on?” I proclaimed my healing; believed for it that very day. My healing did not come. But again my body kept getting worse.
God keeps perfect records. He began to remind me that I had said I wanted to be like Him and that I would go through ANYTHING just to be close to Him. Anything! My memories of saying this were as clear as a bright and sunny day. Yes, I just wanted to be more like Him and was desperate for Him. I recalled even saying I would die for this Gospel. But man, it was all becoming too real for me at this point.
Later Wednesday night, my oxygen levels continued to decrease. Sitting up on my bed or standing in my bedroom, oxygen levels were at 90, but when I tried to lay down my oxygen would only keep decreasing to the low 80’s. I was coughing very hard, now mucous with a red tinge to it. The cough was becoming more and more persistent, and my ability to breathe became more difficult. A little before midnight, my wife took me to the ER for fever of 102.6, cough, and shortness of breath.
After going through the double doors at the ER, they took me to a room, and I began to panic. All the medical equipment and computers were encased with plastic. The nurses and doctors were in full hazmat looking suits. The ER doctor, named Colby Mayo, and the nurse were both wearing masks like you would see in a biological warfare movie. I had no idea the hospital looked the way it did. I was shocked. The nurse took me to a room, put an IV in me, and took my blood and urine samples, then I was left alone. They administred a chest X-ray on me. My chest X-ray showed Covid-19 in my lungs. I was severely dehydrated, even after drinking a 24 pack of bottled water and countless bottles of Gatorade and Body Armor Sports Drink. I was guzzling fluids literally all day Wednesday.
I was discharged from the ER on Thursday at 4:45 AM. Dr. Colby diagnosed me with viral pneumonia, viral disease exposure (Covid-19), sinus tachycardia, hypokalemia, and dehydration. On the way home, my wife and I picked up some ibuprofen, potassium chloride, and promethazine-codeine at a nearby 24 hour Walgreens. We got home a little after 5:30 AM., where I tried to sleep, but woke again at 11:00 AM. Like before, I was just dozing off and on, unable to sleep.
My health during the day Thursday was still not getting better; in fact, it only got much worse. I fought for each breath. No medication helped with my fever, which stayed constant at 101. My cough was so strong, I was vomiting and struggling to breathe. I prayed repeatedly for healing in my body. Tearfully, I alternated between praying, worshipping, praising, reading my Bible out loud, listening to Because Of The Times music, watching BOTT preaching, and then praying some more. My emotions were all over the place, as I was exhausted, unable to sleep, so sick, and stressed with fear and anxiety.
I finally told the Lord, “If it is my time to leave this life, then I want to go in a peaceful manner, please.” There I went again, telling Jesus what to do. We never learn, do we?
I texted my Pastor to pray. I texted my closest friends to pray. I could not leave my room and desperately desired to see my family. I opened the curtains and prayed toward the blue sky.
Thursday evening around 10:30 PM, I started getting dizzy and my hands were burning as I was struggling to breathe. My left shoulder ached, but I thought it was from an old injury. I felt discombobulated. It felt like my bedroom was spinning. I kept calling my wife to stay with me in the room, but because I was supposed to be quarantined, she would only stand by the door crying and praying. I did not want her to leave. We were both so exhausted, and our poor daughters could not get any rest because I was playing preaching and music at a high volume and praying loudly. I was so, so tired, but I could not sleep. I was so hot. I took several showers. I was uncomfortable being in my bedroom, feeling trapped and lonely. I was struggling badly, both physically and mentally. I kept asking God over and over to heal me, “Lord, will You please heal me. This is not a hard thing for You.”
Later in the evening on Thursday, I called my friend Cole Weeks, a Pentecostal preacher and evangelist who lives in Louisiana, and we spoke for several hours and prayed. He was such a blessing to me.
I then called my Pastor, Rob Wyatt, and spoke to him. I told him that I felt like I was going to die. I absolutely felt like I was getting ready to pass from this life. I told him that I was not getting better. My pastor told me these words that I will never forget: “I do not believe that. You are not going to die. You have a church to build!” I began to weep. I said, “Yes, God did promise me that.” He prayed and reiterated to me to call him whenever I needed. I said, “Okay.” I am so thankful for a pastor who is such a man of faith.
After 1:30 AM Friday morning, my family had all fallen asleep, but I was still awake. I called Cole again needing to talk and pray. I just wanted to talk to someone. Yes, I know God is always there. Yes, I know God hears me when I pray, but sometimes you just want to talk to someone who is physically there, right? You know - God with skin on.
By now my eyes were swollen because of crying so much. I was so weak in my body. Although all I really wanted was just to rest, I could not sleep. I was uncomfortable in every way. Why wasn’t this virus leaving my body? Why was healing not coming to me? I was so hot and was sweating profusely. I desperately wanted to claim the promise of the Word of God found in Proverbs 3:24, “When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.”
I will be totally honest with you. I was afraid. Scared. Petrified. I know I am a man of faith, but sometimes you wonder, you know? Before anyone says I must have lacked faith, well, you just remember even John the Baptist doubted while he was in prison. Just remember when things got heated during Jesus’s interrogation with the Pharisees and the crowd, even Peter denied Jesus three times..three times. He bailed out on God. The great Apostle Paul asked the Lord to remove the thorn from his side, but He did not. Oh, but God is so gracious and merciful.
This time when I called Cole, he said, “Here is what I want you to do, Charlie. Put your phone down, and just listen to Renita and me pray. Do not pray, do not say a word, just close your eyes, and listen. When we pray, here is what is going to happen. The presence of Almighty God is going to fill your bedroom.” He and Renita then began to pray. I could hear Renita praying in the background with such anointing and power. Both were interceding, speaking in tongues. Cole began to pray in faith with anointing. I lifted my face toward Heaven and just began to cry, calling on the name of Jesus over and over. I did not know what else to say, but “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.” I prayed all the prayers I knew to pray. I’ve been in Pentecost for over 38 years, so I know all the ins and outs of prayer. As I was crying, I opened my eyes and saw a white hazy smoke that was above the ceiling fan and filling the entire ceiling. I told Cole, “I see it. I see it. I see a white, smoky haze just above me!” He and Renita just kept praying. I began to weep and speaking in tongues.
When we ended our phone call, I called my very tired wife to come to the room. She stood at the doorway and I asked her, “Sara, do you see it?? Do you see that white, hazy smoke hovering??” She wearily replied, “I don’t see anything, Charlie. Just let me get some sleep, okay? I’ll wake up at 3:30 or 3:45 to check on you.” I earnestly said, “I love you, Sara, so much.” She said, “I love you, too.” Then she left our bedroom to try to get some much needed rest.
I began to sing along to “Wait On the Lord.” That song was such a blessing to me throughout this whole ordeal. The shortness of breath still continued. I was sweating profusely, and my fever was steadfastly remaining at 101/102. I was extremely uncomfortable. I continued to drink tons of fluids. I think I took about 3 showers in the span of an hour and a half. I kept rubbing my left chest because my heart was pumping like crazy. The left side of my entire body was hurting really bad as I sat up in my bed.
At this point, I was so weak in my body, I felt like I was leaving this life. I actually felt like I was leaving earth and going on to the next life. I heard loud sounds and echoes going in through my right ear and out the left ear. I had no idea where they were coming from. They were getting louder and more frequent.
I said loudly, “God, these are my girls, and Sara is my wife. I cannot allow my girls to be raised without a father, and there is no way Sara can be left alone. They belong to me. I have the responsibility to take care of them.” It was then the Lord spoke to me, “Yours? They actually belong to Me.” I wept as I brokenly replied, “Yes, Lord. They are yours. Please take care of them.” The Lord was right. My family really does belong to Him.
I called Sara again. I would like to thank the Lord for my wife. She was so exhausted as she had the girls and home to care for, but she was there for me through all of this. When I called her, she came right in.
I told her that I loved her so much and that she needed to raise our girls to the best of her ability and to lean upon God for strength. She needed to make sure the girls hold on to this precious Apostolic Pentecostal truth. I was struggling for breath. I told her to wake up the girls because I wanted to speak to them one last time and tell them that I loved them. I told her, “I feel this is it. I am ready to leave.” She began to cry. She said, “No. I’m not going to wake up the girls. Stop saying that! You’re NOT going to die.” She then left the room again. I later learned she had gone to call the hospital to see if she could bring me back. In retrospect, Sara firmly believes that if I had lain down and closed my eyes during that night or early morning, I would have passed away. She said I was really pale and looked out of it and my speech was really slow.
When she left the room, while I was lying on my bed, it felt like someone did a roundhouse kick to the left side of my chest. The pain was so severe. My heart felt like it was about to jump out of my chest. I lost my breath. Then I noticed my entire left arm had doubled in size. The entire left side of my body was in pain, which intensified greatly as I lay there. I frantically called Sara again and told her what was happening.
She had been getting the girls settled and herself dressed to take me to the hospital, but she quickly came back and took my temperature again. My fever was over 103. She immediately said, “Get dressed. I am taking you to the hospital.” I weakly replied, “No, I’m not getting dressed.” She again ordered me, “Get dressed!”
I said, “Sara, they did nothing for me at the hospital. I hated the ER waiting room. If I’m going to die, it will not be at the hospital. I would rather die in the comfort of my own bedroom.” She immediately said, “You’re not going to die anywhere right now, so get dressed.”
The palms of my hands, soles of my feet, and my lips were swollen and burning intensely. It was as though someone held fire to them. Even when I breathed, it was a burning sensation. I started shaking and sweating. In despair, I cried out, “Lord, am I feeling the flames of hell?” I again began to weep. Then I heard the voice of my enemy, the devil, proclaim, “That’s right. You’re going to be with me. Get ready. You’re not going to make it!”
I am being totally transparent here. My faith seemed to be depleted. My state of exhaustion and the lack of oxygen coupled with the effects of the sickness had taken their toll on both my mind and body. I could not think clearly, although I desperately tried to cling to my faith and hope.
Amazingly, at that very moment, around 6:00 AM, Bro. Nathanial Scoggins, pastor of my home church, Hope Center UPC, in San Antonio, TX, called me and asked how I was doing. I told him I was not doing well at all, and we were going to the hospital. He let me know that Bro. Joshua Carney and he were at the Starbucks drive through, and he felt in the Holy Ghost that he needed to call me and that they were going to pray. I desperately told him that I felt like I was passing from this life and that I seemed to be feeling the flames of hell. I was burning up and shaking intensely. I could not stop shaking and just kept crying and crying. I couldn’t breathe! He immediately declared, “Charlie, you’re not going to hell. You’re a good man with a beautiful family.” He then firmly stated, “God has you. Don’t worry, Charlie. God has you.” Then they began to pray. I could hear Bro. Scoggins and Bro. Carney praying with faith and authority, speaking in tongues. Bro. Scoggins with much faith then assured me, “Charlie, you’re going to be all right. You’re in His Hands. I will text you later.” Then we hung up.
I was exhausted and just felt so very tired as Sara drove me to the ER entrance of the hospital. It was about a 20-minute drive, and I was drowsy and struggling to remain conscious. We arrived at the hospital, and I waited in our vehicle while she went to check me in. I couldn’t breathe, I was trying to stay awake, and I opened the car door to let air in. The left side of my body was in pain, and my muscles were having spasms. What was taking her so long? I wanted to sleep but was in so much pain.
Sara finally returned with a nurse and a wheelchair. I later learned the reason she was gone so long. When she went to check me in, the woman behind the desk said she needed to make a phone call before letting me in. While Sara was waiting, a receptionist from the previous visit recognized her and said she would go ahead and check me in. The other woman angrily said, “No, we are not going to let him in. I need to ask someone first.” The two women began to argue about it, but then the lady who recognized Sara told her, “Go ahead, and bring him in. I am not going to let him leave when he needs help.” Praise God. We know God intervened for me to be admitted.
Sara then had to go back home because she couldn’t come in with me due to the Covid-19 restrictions. She drove back home claiming promises of hope, but not knowing if she would ever even see me again this side of Heaven. Thankfully, she was not alone. The Lord was with her all the way. She also called Renita, who prayed over her and encouraged her as she drove home. At this point, we had no idea what would transpire. We could only trust God.
So there I was in the ER waiting room, and the process started again: IV followed by blood and urine samples. I was so, so tired. I know I keep repeating this, but I cannot express to you how completely, overwhelmingly, just tired I was. I murmured over and over, “Walk patiently with the Lord. Walk patiently with the Lord. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. I love you. I love you.” The ER doctor, Tam Nguyen, came in and said they were going to do another chest X-ray to see the progression of Covid from the previous visit.
I slumped wearily on the hospital bed and waited. About two hours later, a guy in a hazmat suit walked in with the X-ray machine. He heard me praying and thought I was talking to him. When he asked what I had said, I told him, “No, sir. I’m talking to Jesus.” He said, “I admire you for that. I believe in Jesus, too.” I pointed my finger at him and declared, “He’s going to heal me. You just wait and see.” Much to my surprise, he quickly replied, “I believe it, too.”
As he was preparing to do the chest X-ray, he went on to tell me that his Pentecostal grandmother was a preacher. He said, “My grandma would quote a scripture, it goes something like … Wonderful, Everlasting Father ….” He struggled to quote the scripture, so I said, “Isaiah 9:6.” Then I quoted it for him. He exclaimed, “Yeah! That’s it! I love that scripture!” I immediately said, “Sir, there’s only one God, His name is Jesus Christ, and He’s a Healer.” He asked, “Are you a minister?” I said, “Yes. I’m a minister with the United Pentecostal Church International.” I proceeded to tell him where I went to church. Before he left, he said, “I’ll be praying for you, Charles.” I responded, “Thank you, bro.” I would love to meet him again someday.
As I waited for what seemed to be endless hours, I just kept praying. My phone kept notifying me of text messages from people all over the country telling me they were praying for me. I tried to answer as many as I could, but I was not able to keep up. I was just too exhausted and out of it. For those of you who are reading this, I apologize for not answering your text message!! I would like to say I am so thankful for each one of you, family members and friends. So many people, not only on both sides of my family, but friends and acquaintances, were interceding for me.
As I continued to wait, to get my mind off of the time, I focused on a dent in the wall. I literally just stared at it. Yeah, it sounds weird. But I stared at it and softly repeated, “Keep walking with the Lord. Keep walking patiently with the Lord.” Over and over. Man, I was so tired. The only activity was the nurse coming in and checking on me and changing out the IV bag.
Finally, after several hours, Dr. Nguyen came in and said, “We have good news and bad news. The good news is that Covid has not advanced, it’s stationary. It has not spread since your last visit. It is staying put.” I lifted my hands and said, “Thank you, Jesus.” He and the nurse, whose name was Stephen, just stared at me for a moment. Then the doctor continued, “The bad news is your heart. Your heart rate is way too high for the overall health of your heart, and we need to do something about this. Your blood pressure is too high, as well. What I’m going to do is keep giving you saline. I just want to continue monitoring you for a few hours.”
Again I sat for several hours. I then began to watch my heart rate pumping at 150 - 160 bpm on the machine. As long as the saline was working, my heart rate dropped to between 120 and 115. When the saline bag was empty, my heart rate bounced up to 145 – 150. As soon as they replaced the saline bag, my heart rate began to decrease again. Finally, after several hours, Dr. Nguyen returned and told me, “Good news, Charles. You are going to be admitted this afternoon. Give us a few minutes to come get you and take you up to the 5th floor.” He told me they were going to treat me for Covid-19 as well as my heart and blood pressure.
By around 1:49 – 2:30 PM, I was in my hospital room getting situated. I was now on oxygen due to my low levels. They did an EKG, then the tech left. The monitor kept making beeping noises because my heart was skipping beats. From the time I was admitted to my room and had the EKG to 9:00 PM that evening, I don’t remember anything. Not a single thing. I slept for the first time in many days.
During all this time, Sara had no idea what was going on. She just knew I was in the hospital and in God’s hands. She prayed for the doctors and nurses to make the right decisions for me and to be sensitive to God’s guidance. She prayed for angels and an anointing to fill the hospital room and to surround me. She knew God would be where she couldn’t be, in the hospital with me.
Around 9:00 PM that night, I was awakened by a doctor named Gary Riggs. He proceeded to tell me that my heart was not well because it had been overworked for the past couple of weeks due to Covid and my body trying to fight it. He told me that was his concern right then, my heart. He said, “I’m not worried about Covid in your body, we’ll take care of that. But it’s your heart. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, your heart is at a 9 or 10. You are the only person on this floor with Covid affecting your heart. This is a first. So, what I would like to do, with your approval, is give you some medication that may or may not work. It’s an experimental heart drug.” He then warned me, “Three people have died from it.” At that point, I really didn’t care. I wearily said, “Sure, let’s give it a shot.” He responded, “Ok, tomorrow morning I will administer it. Rest well.”
I finally got back to sleep around 11:00 Friday night. But I was awakened because of muscle spasms all throughout the left side of my body. I distinctly remember my left arm shooting up in the air. Another time, my left leg shot up in the air. The entire left side of my body was convulsing with muscle spasms. Not only was my rest disturbed by my body convulsing, nurses were coming in and out taking blood samples and giving me medicine.
Saturday morning, Dr. Riggs came in and said, “How are you? I have been thinking. I am not going to use (he named the drug, I can’t even pronounce it or spell it) on you. The medicine we are currently using on you - your heart is responding well to it. The only thing is - we are going to increase the dosage.” I can only thank God for that decision.
I said, “Ok, no problem. When do I go home?” He looked at me like I had asked a dumb question and then said, “You’re going to be here for a few more days.” After he left the room on Saturday, I do not remember anything of what went on for the rest of the day. Every morning, Dr. Riggs would come in to give me an update on my health. One morning, either Sunday or Monday, I broke down in tears telling him that I just wanted to be well and to go home. I will never forget the words he spoke as he placed his hand gently on my shoulder, “Charles, you’re going to beat this. I promise. But you cannot go home yet. You need to stay a few more days.”
In addition to everything else, I was dealing with sepsis in my body. That’s a serious infection that leads to death. I had infected blood flowing through every single organ in my body. While they were already administering medication for my heart, that Monday morning they began to give me Hydroxychloroquine by pill twice a day and Azithromycin by IV once a day.
On Tuesday, March 31st, my body was finally beginning to feel better. I was still being given Hydroxychloroquine twice a day and Azithromycin once a day. By then my fever had finally gone. Each day, I was showing signs of improvement. Dr. Riggs had gone off duty and was replaced by Dr. Ellen Rolfe. She very kindly called my wife and gave her an update. My wife was so thankful to hear an update. She had only heard sporadically from me via text at this point, with very little information. This was because I was in and out of sleep as my body began and continued the healing process. As the days passed, Dr. Rolfe began to lower my oxygen levels. We progressed from 4 to 2. She wanted me to start exercising my lungs and begin breathing on my own, so she would have me stand and take deep breaths when I could.
As the nurses rotated back around, every one of them said how much better I looked and sounded. Dr. Rolfe could not believe how well I looked physically. She exclaimed, “Charles, you look really well.” I told her that Jesus had healed me and that He was with me when I walked through the valley of the shadow of death. She just said, “Great.”
While I was in the hospital my wife was able to bring a bag of stuff and drop it off for me. It contained clean clothes, personal hygiene items, and beautiful notes written by my three older girls telling me how much they loved me and wanted me home. I cried so much. I cannot express how much I missed seeing my family. I am also thankful for the man of God in my life. My pastor dropped off a snack bag full of Gatorade, beef jerky, and other goodies.
I never was able to express my gratitude to Dr. Riggs. I hope to see him one day so I can tell him how much I appreciate him. In fact, every member of the medical staff on the 5th floor did a wonderful job. They were amazing. God bless them. In one of her updates, Dr. Rolfe told my wife that I looked a lot better and that she couldn’t believe the turn around. I can. I know God healed me! I know He was with me!
I was discharged on April 2nd. In my own clothes (finally), as I was wheeled through the 5th floor halls, every nurse we came in contact with said, “Goodbye, Charles!” They rolled me down to the entrance where Sara was waiting for me, and we headed home. I was so glad to go home.
Once I got home, I was still taking the Hydroxychloroquine by pill twice day and Azithromycin by pill, instead of intravenously. I completed the medication Sunday, April 5th. As a safety precaution, I still had to be quarantined for two more weeks with no outside visitors coming in or out. I was able to just be with my family. Once I got back home, we began to exchange stories of what had happened while I was gone.
Friday night of the day I was admitted to the hospital, our eldest daughter saw a white, smoky haze hovering over our bedroom door and part of our ceiling in the living room. She immediately exclaimed, “Uh, is that smoke? Why is it smoky in the house?” Our other teenager also saw it and was alarmed. Sara informed them that she had not cooked anything, and she couldn’t smell any smoke. She started to get concerned, but then she remembered what I had told her earlier that Friday morning when I saw the presence of God in our bedroom. She immediately realized what I had seen and what they were now seeing. THEY, TOO, SAW THE PRESENCE OF ALMIGHTY GOD. What a mighty God we serve!
Sara had not slept in our bedroom the entire time I was in the hospital. She told me that although all of our daughters had struggled, our 8-year-old daughter had taken my absence and the uncertainty the hardest. She would not eat with the rest of them. She would just take her food into her tent in her playroom, zip it up, and eat in there and cry. She had meltdowns at random times during the day. At night she would cry inconsolably at bedtime and had trouble getting to sleep.
Sara told me that Tuesday, March 31, while I was in the hospital, our pastor had called her and told her the Lord wanted her to go to our room, shut the door, and sit in silence because God had a word for her. She did so, and when she came out, our 8-year-old asked Sara if God had talked to her. She said, “Yes.” Our daughter then asked if God would speak to her if she went in there and sat. My wife told her the story of Samuel when he was a boy and how God had spoken to him. Our little girl marched into our bedroom and said she was going to see if God would talk to her, too.
She had been gone for a while, so my wife went to check on her. She was lying on the bed peacefully sleeping. After that, for the rest of my hospital stay, she was much calmer and had no more meltdowns. Let me quickly tell you something about our 8-year-old daughter. Several years ago I believe she saw an angel standing in the corner of our bedroom. One day she told me, “Dad, I saw a man standing in your room.” I said, “Really? Show me.” She took me to our bedroom and pointed to a corner of the room. I asked, “Were you afraid?” She replied, “No, I was not afraid.” I firmly believe she witnessed an angel. I pray God uses her mightily in the gifts of the Spirit.
My family and I have had many discussions about what we all went through. We have cried. We have thanked the Lord. We pray more together as a family. We are not the same family we were before this trial. We are markedly different.
I would like to insert an amusing story into my testimony. One day while we were discussing what had happened, my eldest shared a memory from before I went into the hospital. She said it was that Wednesday night when I was quarantined in mine and Sara’s room, which is right next to hers. She was on a Zoom meeting with her Hyphen group, and one of the Hyphen leaders, Bro. Ty Welch, suddenly asked the group, “What is that sound? Is someone yelling at somebody?” Although she knew what it was, our eldest daughter was somewhat embarrassed and didn’t say anything. It was I, travailing in my bedroom for God to heal me.
I give thanks to Almighty God, Jesus Christ, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, that Covid-19 is completely gone from my body. I thank You, Jesus. You are a Healer. You are the one and only true God!
I am still recovering from this whole ordeal. I’m up to about 90% in my strength. I still have some residual aches and pains in my body. I still get winded easily. My left chest has occasional tightness. My left arm occasionally gets swollen, but not enough to worry about. Last month, I went to the ER for excruciating pain in my lower right flank side. A CT Scan was done, but the doctors did not find anything. They determined it was most likely muscles aching from trying to get back to normal. That pain was with me for over a week, but it’s gone now.
I have to take medication to regulate my heart rate, although before all of this I did not take any medication for it or anything else. I did not have ANY UNDERLYING condition with my heart at all before coming down with Covid-19. In fact, other than the flu once every year or two, I was rarely sick at all. My co-workers and family will readily attest to that.
I would like to take a moment here to express my sincere gratitude to all of my co-workers for their support and sympathy during this difficult time of my life. Also, I want to express my utmost appreciation for my Operations team for the extra hours they put in on my behalf. They are: Ryan, Keith, Staci, and Jeremey. Lastly, my boss Natasha Sanders and my director Melie Vincent are the greatest. They are the greatest to work for. Melie called my wife several times to make sure everything was fine. I appreciate and love them all so much. I mean that.
I now have a wonderful primary care physician, Dr. Christopher Stellman. He was a Godsend. When no other doctor in Oklahoma City would see me from fear of Covid-19, his office did. I thank God for him.
Dr. Stellman has given me instructions on making physical changes to my diet and exercise, which I am following. I had put on a few unnecessary pounds during my last semester at UGST, and Dr. Stellman feels that affects my oxygen levels. I am still sleeping with oxygen at night and keep our oximeter close by to make sure my oxygen levels are maintaining good levels.
While I do have some remaining health issues, I know Jesus Christ, Almighty God, was with me every step of the way. All I had to do was keep my hand in His hand and just walk with Him. Even during the most trying time of my entire life, even when I was going to die … Oh, yes, death was at my door. The doctors have confirmed that if I had not come in when I did, I would have died. Yes, there was some doubt in my mind while being quarantined, and for a short time I listened to fear speak to me. But I just needed to walk patiently with my Savior. Through those dark hours, He was with me, in Spirit and in Truth. There are several passages in the Word of God that will be FOREVER engraved in my heart. They are Psalm 23; Psalm 91; Isaiah 41:10, 13. I could share them with you here but, instead, I ask you to look them up and find for yourself the peace and comfort that comes only from His Word.
God was not only with me as I lay in that hospital; He was also with my wife and daughters. He showed them His glory and gave them peace. God’s people showed so much love to my family during the darkest hours. Family and friends brought dinner, had groceries delivered, and gave unselfishly. But most importantly, people were praying, and God was listening. He impressed on people to call and pray over my family. I am so grateful to be part of the United Pentecostal Church International fellowship. We definitely have some intercessors walking in the Spirit.
I confess that I still don’t understand and have sought God’s face in prayer asking why I went through this. Although I haven’t gotten an exact answer, I will yet praise and worship Him. He is worthy of all my devotion and praise.
My memory takes me back to Because of the Times 2019 when Bro. Calvin Jean prayed over me. He prophesied that God was going to give me a healing ministry. I have often wondered if this was a spiritual or physical healing ministry. I don’t know, but it’s in God’s Hands. I trust Him for it. I’m just going to continue to walk patiently with my Savior.
I have been really transparent in my testimony. Perhaps one of our greatest challenges in our walk through life is to trust God in the face of a great trial, such as a life-threatening or debilitating illness. I may know all the Scriptures assuring us of His ability to meet our every physical need, but somehow, at times I find it difficult to maintain a high level of faith while in the midst of trying circumstances like this one. I think I probably speak for a lot of people. This was the hardest trial of my adult life. Our problems or circumstances should not hinder our faith. Our sicknesses should not interfere with our trust in God. “For he is faithful that promised” (Hebrews 10:23).
When I am in His hands and holding His hand, He will be my shield from the storm. He will become my “storm cellar or tornado cellar” (if you live in Oklahoma) in the storm. I have even thought that perhaps God told the devil, “Hast thou considered my servant Charles?” Yes, I truly believe that to be a possibility.
I love Jesus with all of my heart. I am not the same person spiritually. I cannot be. I am ready to go with Him all the way, wherever He may lead me. I will gladly follow Him. I am His, and He is mine, for all eternity.
This won’t be my last trial. I know there are more to come, possibly many more. But I am ready for them. My trust in God has risen to a new level. I am going to trust Jesus with all my heart and just continue to walk hand in hand with Him, even when I don’t understand what is going on.
If you are reading my testimony, remember, He cares for you deeply. He knows exactly where you are, no matter how stormy the seas of life may be right now. Sometimes He will calm the storms of life, but at other times He will allow us to go through the storms of life without taking them away. There is a song that says “Sometimes He calms the storm, and other times He calms His child.” I have found this to be true in my life.
At times, things are going to be difficult. Life is going to be challenging. Things may happen that might even cause you to want to throw in the towel, but don’t. It’s not that He wants us to suffer or that He is a mean God. His desire is for us to grow through it. To grow closer to Him through every circumstance. Don’t just go through it, grow through it. Keep asking; keep knocking; keep seeking. Keep trusting in God. He won’t ever fail you. I promise. And even more importantly, He promises.
Thanks for reading. Be blessed.
Rev. Charles Gonzales