By Kayla Rinker
OZARK–The doctors and hospital staff call him “Miracle Man,” but Jason Spencer, 32, considers himself more like a vessel God chose to use for His purpose.
Spencer, a member of First Baptist Church, Ozark, had been praying for his church and for a fresh new move of God.
“I was praying for something to wake us up or reaffirm what we were doing,” he said. “I had been praying off and on for six months, specifically praying for God to make it happen and, if need be, let it start with me.”
Jason and his wife, Buffy, have no doubt that God answers the prayers of His people.
A sudden downturn
April 3, the day before Easter, started as a joyous day for the Spencers. It was the day their newborn daughter was released from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after 10 long days.
Their baby was diagnosed with Meconium Aspiration Syndrome, a rare condition where an infant takes meconium into his or her lungs during or before delivery. As a result, their baby had to be monitored closely so that she wouldn’t develop pneumonia.
“That was actually the first miracle,” said Buffy, also 32. “St. Johns (Hospital) requires a parent of a NICU baby to take CPR courses. They don’t have that rule for typical births. I’ve taken CPR before but it had been a while. It’s a miracle that I was required to go to CPR to refresh myself.”
Sadly, Buffy got the opportunity to test her CPR knowledge all too soon. However, it was not her baby girl that needed it.
“The day we came home I was feeding the baby and Jason was lying on the couch because he didn’t feel good,” Buffy said. “He eventually called me from the other room and he didn’t sound good. He was short of breath and he said he almost blacked out.”
Buffy then called her sister-in-law, an ER nurse, for advice on what to do. Her sister-in-law asked her questions about what had happened that day and she told Buffy to ask Jason to lie on the floor if he felt dizzy. Twenty minutes later Jason started complaining again so Buffy got the phone in case she needed to call her sister-in-law back. Then Jason’s eyes rolled in the back in his head.
“I called 911 and when he stopped breathing I started CPR,” Buffy said. “Paramedics got to our house in six minutes and when they got there they shocked his heart once and it started beating again.”
While the first responders busily prepared Jason for transport, Buffy quickly and calmly did the things she knew she needed to do.
“The Holy Spirit was there guiding every step I took,” she said. “I changed the baby’s diaper and put her in bed and I talked with my 2-year-old daughter and together we prayed for her Daddy. As a new mom, I don’t think I could have handled it without the Holy Spirit there.”
Diagnosing the problem
The next 48 hours were critical. Jason was put on a ventilator and doctors put him through every test they knew to try to figure out why a young man with no medical history of heart problems would suddenly go into cardiac arrest.
“They started a procedure called an EEG (Electroencephalography) which measures brain waves,” Buffy said. “He had very little brain function so they put his body into post-code hypothermia. They wanted to lower his body temperature so that his metabolism would help his brain heal.”
After 72 hours in a coma, a second EEG showed that Jason still had little to no brain activity. Also, the doctors had finally identified what was wrong. Jason was diagnosed with Brugada Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that is characterized by abnormal electrocardiogram (ECG) findings and an increased risk of sudden cardiac death. It is also the major and, quite possibly the only, cause of Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome (SUDS).
“I was scared of what might happen next,” Buffy said. “I had a hundred different scenarios running through my head and thank goodness I had friends to talk to and tell me I wasn’t crazy and that my feelings were normal and that God was constant. In fact, God was my stabilizer.
“Also, with everything happening around me I was just so tired. My body was spent and I found rest in prayer. There were so many times I would just pray myself to sleep. I think I wanted that sense of comfort from God.”
And Buffy wasn’t alone in her prayers. While she prayed fervently by Jason’s bedside, the couple’s family, friends, church family, friends of friends and friends’ church families were praying all across the country.
“I knew and could feel that they were constantly praying for Jason, for me, and my girls,” she said. “Even people who don’t typically pray were praying.”
The power of Facebook
Because of the social networking site, Facebook, the couple’s tragic story and prayer needs were shared with a multitude. Also using Facebook, as well as mass texting, members of First Ozark were able to host a short-notice emergency prayer vigil for the Spencers on April 5. More than 150 people gathered to lift them up in prayer.
“At that point, it looked very bleak,” said Brad Beckham, minister of students at First Ozark. “Everyone was very somber and praying, ‘God, we know you can do this,’ and ‘Lord, help us handle what is going on here.’ We were diligently praying for healing and for good to come out of it. At that point, Jason’s wife had already had opportunities to share with others at the hospital about her love and faith in God.”
Then a miracle occurred
“On day six of his coma he didn’t have the ventilator out yet and he had no brain waves,” Buffy said. “On day seven he woke up, he knew people and was talking. The doctors and nurses couldn’t understand how that could be scientifically. We knew that people were praying and that God orchestrated everything.
“People were saying, ‘This can’t be.’ It was incredible to everyone because they had never seen anything like this before. They’ve seen people wake up from a coma but not without some kind of brain damage.”
The power of God
Jason has no medical problems. His only ailment is that he is physically tired. Buffy said his strength and endurance will come back over time.
“I get out and walk about a mile and a half every other day,” Jason said. “I’m hoping for a call next week that I am clear to drive. They have thrown every test at me they know of and I completely understand. I know I’m completely healed but it’s a slow and steady thing.”
Buffy said that everything that has happened with Jason has reminded her, above all else, that God is personal in our lives and He has her best interest at heart.
“A lot of people feel unloved by God for some reason,” she said. “I learned that God is interested in me personally and not just because Jason is well. … He showed it through His people. While other people were stepping up and ministering, I felt God’s love. I feel more love now than I ever have.”
She said God’s people, including many in her church family, helped financially with medical bills, cleaned her house, did yard work, provided childcare, brought meals and visited her and Jason, helping them get through each day.
“We’ve had all the help we needed because He orchestrated and placed burdens on His people’s hearts,” Buffy said. “And it was all for God’s glory.”
Beckham said Buffy’s faith throughout the whole ordeal was incredible.
“She was an example to our entire church body,” he said. “The Spencers’ situation has sent revitalization into our church and it has shown us how powerful God is and how we tend to limit his power to our own scope and to what we think is humanly possible. It made us realize above everything else that we can never imagine just how powerful the God we serve is.”
For Jason, everything he has gone through the last month and a half has been humbling.
“God used me in a way He wanted to use me,” he said. “He wanted to use me to try to touch other folks and that’s humbling. I don’t know that my relationship with God is any different than it was before this all happened but, it’s good to know I am being used.”