Rolla pastor passionate about miracle
By Allen Palmeri
Dennis Hustead, pastor, Fort Wyman Baptist Church, Rolla, is thankful.Hustead likes to preach and sing, and to do that he needs his vocal cords. Thanks to the power of God, he can testify to their necessity and fragility.
Hustead, 54, has been a Southern Baptist all of his life, ministering for 35 years, pastoring for 12. His pastorates have included Keystone Baptist Church, Reeds Spring; First Baptist Church, Shelbyville, and Fort Wyman, where his current service began in July 2004. The Phelps County church has a little more than 100 members, with an average attendance of 70.
One day Hustead decided to do something about the loss of mobility in his left arm. He underwent a surgery that failed to fix his arm. Doctors kept trying to diagnose him, theorizing he had arthritis in his neck and calculating that he needed to have some vertebrae fused. When they did that surgery in August of 2006, his blood pressure dropped.
A surgery that was supposed to last 1½ hours grew complicated and lasted five hours.
“When I came out of surgery, I sounded like I had gargled with Drano,” Hustead said. “They had paralyzed one of my vocal cords.”
In January, he returned to the doctor and was told, conclusively, that his voice would not come back.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in Bethesda, Md., vocal cord paralysis is a voice disorder that occurs when one or both of the vocal cords (or vocal folds) do not open or close properly. The vocal cords are two elastic bands of muscle tissue located in the larynx (voice box) directly above the trachea (windpipe). The vocal cords produce voice when air held in the lungs is released and passed through the closed vocal cords, causing them to vibrate. When a person is not speaking, the vocal cords remain apart to allow the person to breathe.
As time passed God’s healing power gave him a renewed vigor for ministry.
“God showed me His awesome power in His grace,” Hustead said. “Like Paul said, I had a thorn in my flesh that I prayed for repeatedly. He prayed earnestly, and God said, ‘My grace is sufficient for You.’”
Hustead, who was licensed to preach in March of 1973, began to believe that.
“I preached every Sunday after the surgery with a microphone to my mouth,” he said. “I had no volume—very rough, gruff sounding voice.”
As the months turned to May and June, he thought about giving up the ministry.
“Here you’ve got a pastor, someone who used to sing, play the guitar, preach, and I couldn’t talk and I couldn’t play,” he said. “Basically my ministry tools were taken away and I have this voice that I can’t even project without a microphone.
“I was sitting in my chair at the house one morning, watching Fox News with my wife (Gail), and I looked over and I said, ‘Could you get me another cup of coffee?’
“And she said, ‘Dennis, your voice! It’s back! God has healed your voice.’
Hustead went back to the doctor to demonstrate what Jesus had done.
“I’m talking,” he said to the doctor, “and I can almost sing.”
He was told by the physician that one of his vocal cords was still as paralyzed as it was a year before, but mysteriously the dead vocal cord had not atrophied.
“The miracle is that God is allowing that vocal cord to be just as pink and puffy as the other vocal cord. He has sustained your voice by touching your throat,” the doctor said.
Now Hustead says that every morning when he can say “Good morning” to his wife, is a cause for celebration.
“I just thank God every day that He’s real,” Hustead said.
“When you tell people, ‘God performed a miracle,’ they’re all skeptical,” Hustead said. “They all look at you like, ‘Oh, right, oh, yeah, uh, huh.’ Then when I tell them the story they go, ‘Wow that is pretty cool.’
“They’ve been so engrained into order of worship and being quiet and don’t lift your hands and don’t do this. The Holy Spirit is God. Jesus is God. We have to remember that we serve a God of the Father, God of the Son, and God of the Holy Spirit. He’s three in one. We cannot leave the Holy Spirit out of God’s plan in our life. Those people who have lost the joy of their salvation, which comes from Jesus Christ, can never, ever, ever find the empowerment that the Holy Spirit gives to them.”
Hustead had an encounter with the Holy Spirit during a 1995 Promise Keepers retreat in Dallas.
“Early Saturday morning the Holy Spirit poured out upon the entire Texas Stadium,” he said.
That led to him making a promise to God that he would do “anything that You want me to do from this point forward.” Seven days after that date, he preached at Keystone Baptist Church.