‘Ghost boy’: God was ‘constant companion’ on long road back to life and love

I was 12-years-old when I came home from school one day complaining of a sore throat. Within 15 months, I was wheelchair-bound, mute and completely unresponsive. My parents were told that I was severely brain damaged and would surely die. Doctors ran test after test but could not make a conclusive diagnosis. All they could say was that I was suffering from a degenerative neurological disorder. Lost in my dark, unseeing world, I was awake but unresponsive, unaware of anything around me. My parents were advised to put me into an institution where death would soon claim me.

But it did not. And one day, about four years after I first fell ill, I started coming back to life. It was flashes at first: moments of awareness that left me almost as soon as they appeared. It took time for me to realize that I was completely alone in the middle of a sea of people: entombed in my body because my limbs were unresponsive and spastic and my voice was mute. I couldn’t make a sign or a sound to tell anyone that I had come back to life.

Meeting Joanna at Heathrow Airport.
Meeting Joanna at Heathrow Airport.

Have you ever seen one of those movies in which someone wakes up as a ghost but they don’t know that they’ve died? That’s how it was, as I realized people were looking through and around me. However much I tried to beg and plead, shout and scream, I couldn’t make them notice me. I was trapped inside my body: the ghost boy.

I was utterly alone, until God came into my life. Waking up one night, I felt as if I were leaving my body. Floating upwards, I somehow knew that I was not breathing. But I also understood that I was not alone: angels were comforting and guiding me. I wanted to leave my life to be with them. I had nothing to live for, no reason to continue my journey on earth. But I also knew that I couldn’t go with them. I couldn’t leave behind the family that loved me and who had already been ripped apart by my illness. I had to stay.

The next moment, breath filled my lungs. By the age of 19, I was completely aware and knew that God was with me as my mind knitted itself back together. Although I had grown up in a Christian home, we rarely attended services and I’d never learned the formalities of the church. But despite this, I instinctively knew that God was with me every moment. I found myself talking to Him.  …

God was always there, a constant companion.  … We shared something important: I didn’t have proof that He existed but I knew He was real. God did the same for me. Unlike the people around me, God knew I existed. He was always with me. My life changed forever when I was 25. A massage therapist who worked at the care home I attended began to suspect that I could understand what she was saying and urged my parents to have me tested. On the morning that I was evaluated at a specialized communication center in 2001, I prayed to God that someone would see the intelligence that was trapped inside me. They did. The experts realized I could understand simple commands and began to teach me how to communicate again – first using flash cards and switches and eventually advanced computer software. Within 18 months, I was able to verbally communicate using my “computer voice.” I started to lecture about alternative communication and did voluntary work. In the years since, I’ve graduated with a first class honors degree in computer science and set up my own business as a web developer.

In so many ways, my life had been blessed. But there was one thing I longed for: love. Still in a wheelchair and unable to speak, I wondered if anyone would ever see past my physical limitations to the person inside. On New Year’s Day 2008, my parents and I called my sister on Skype because she was living in England. In the room with her was a woman who captivated me. Her name was Joanna. In the weeks and months that followed, we became friends, exchanged emails and chatted online – my typing and Joanna talking – and soon fell in love. Meeting Joanna brought a new dimension to my faith. She had a very strong Christian upbringing and was actively involved in the church and the local community. Together we grew in faith, and a year later I moved to England to marry her. I can hardly describe what a blessing it was for us to be joined in marriage. I don’t think either of us will ever forget the feeling of joy, happiness and thanks when we said our vows and the vicar proclaimed, “Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder”. For us that moment was palpable: the fact that the Lord brought us together and we knew He was with us as we were joined together in His presence was a moment that will stay with us forever.

Today, God is all around us, always there and a constant part of my life. For me being a Christian and having God in our life together isn’t a choice, it’s a fact. I continue to pray throughout each day because I know that God is with me and I can’t help but to talk to Him. Had it not been for God’s hand, I would not be where I am today. I am sure of that. If I stop and think about everything that happened to me and the odds of not only surviving but coming back to life, there is no doubt in my mind that this could only have happened through divine intervention. People often ask me if I was ever angry at God, if I ever railed against the path that I had to follow. The simple answer is no. I never questioned Him or wondered, “why me?” I never doubted Him or His presence. When I came back to life, I instinctively knew He was with me. Just as I instinctively knew that I could not blame or be angry


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