Article of the week: Carried through the storm
18 July 2020
Majors Karl and Ruth Gray (Clapton) give thanks for prayer support and God’s faithfulness during Karl’s Covid-19 hospitalisation and recovery
KARL had been ill for two weeks with Covid-19 before that day in April when he couldn’t breathe and turned blue. We called 999, expecting him to be home by teatime. We have never been so wrong.
When the ambulance took him to Homerton University Hospital he was immediately put on a ventilator and into a medically induced coma. He was on 60 per cent oxygen and, over the next days, his kidneys failed and he contracted acute pancreatitis.
Ruth contacted people, asking them to pray: Major Sarah Evans at DHQ, who got people praying; Major Andrew Vertigan, who requested prayers on social media; church leaders in Hackney where we work; and the rector of Tunbridge Wells, one of our oldest friends. Our corps WhatsApp prayer group members literally got on their knees and our daughter, Tasha, got people praying at the Church of England’s pension board where she works. We believe God hears every single prayer, but it was also people’s love and faith that carried us through the long, scary days that followed.
Salvation Army officers prayer walked around the hospital and prayed outside our house, members of our congregation ran round the hospital praying on their daily exercise and the emergency cabinet meetings at THQ started with prayer for Karl. On top of that, we live in an area of north London with a large Orthodox Jewish community, and those in our street prayed constantly for us. We don’t come from Salvation Army families but we learnt that we have a massive Salvation Army family, as people from all over the UK and the wider world contacted us letting us know they were praying for us.
Karl gradually improved and the future became more hopeful. He was brought out of the coma after three and a half weeks, but under heavy sedation for another week and a half before being moved out of intensive care and into a respiratory ward. He then got another infection and ended up back on oxygen. A week later, though, he was moved to a rehabilitation ward. Then, exactly eight weeks after he went into hospital, he came home. We hadn’t seen him during that time, except once when the ward sister allowed us a sneaky peek at him through a window. He is now continuing to recover at home.
We will never be able to repay or thank the hospital staff enough – they were beyond wonderful. And we cannot thank our Salvation Army friends enough. The people who helped us have gone above and beyond anything we expected.
On the first Sunday that Karl was in intensive care – Palm Sunday – we saw a video of Regent Hall worship group singing ‘Raise A Hallelujah’, which contains these words: ‘Up from the ashes hope will arise,/ Death is defeated, the King is alive!’ Clapton singing group had been learning that to sing on Easter Sunday. The two corps are different expressions of Salvation Army yet, on that Sunday, God united his people. The Hammond family in Derby posted a brass quartet every day on social media, and the song ‘He Came To Give Us Life In All Its Fullness’ (SASB 139) spoke volumes, as yet again God confirmed his promises to us.
Karl can’t remember anything until a week before he left hospital. Ruth, Tasha, our son, Arran, and his wife, Helen, remember everything. In that remembering we see how amazing God’s people are when they stand in unity and pray.
Karl is now feeling much better, although he is frustrated by his lack of strength and stamina. He is having physiotherapy three times a week and can walk up the stairs as well as round the block. It’s tiring but he can do it. We are convinced that he will get back to full health because people are praying and God is faithful.
As people who choose to follow Jesus, the most important thing we can do is pray. An Army on its knees will see God’s Kingdom revealed in the darkest times, and when it felt like all the happiness had been sucked out of the world, people’s prayers carried us through.
Please keep praying – for us, for each other and for this hurting, confused world. Pray that we will all keep our eyes fixed on Calvary and our hearts firmly tuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
We thank everyone who prayed. The glory always goes to God, but so many people stood in the storm with us and we have seen a faithful God proving to us miraculously that ‘all the promises of God in [Christ] are yes, and in him amen’ (2 Corinthians 1:20 New King James Version).