ST. LOUIS—April Brooks, ministry assistant at South County Baptist Church here, and the daughter of Jairus have a lot in common. Both were dead and the faith of others ignited the power of prayer to bring them back to life.
On Oct. 6, 2010, Brooks, 38, left the church after work to visit her parents who live nearby. As she drove the familiar route, Brooks suddenly slumped over the steering wheel as she suffered cardiac death. Her heart stopped and the car she was driving crashed into a pole.
Witnesses and rescue workers filled Brooks in on what happened next.
“The 911 call went out at 4:42 p.m.,” she said. “The first responders arrived at 4:46 p.m. and they had to bust windows to get me out. I was cyanotic (blue), no pulse, no heartbeat, and unresponsive. God directed their hands. My pulse returned after CPR and being shocked twice.”
Despite the heroic efforts by EMT workers, John Childers, South County Baptist pastor, described the scene in the waiting room after the doctors examined Brooks. “When the doctor joined us to give a report of April’s condition,” Childers said, “he was very pessimistic. He wasn’t giving April much hope to live and if she did live, he expected severe brain damage.”
Brooks also described the prognosis.
“I went into a coma and I was on a ventilator because I was not breathing on my own,” she said. “At the beginning, they put me on a cooling machine to bring my body temperature down to 93 degrees to prevent any further damage. My husband was told that I had less than a 5 percent chance of waking up and if I did, the best case scenario would be severe brain damage.”
The stage was set for a miracle.
“Within a few minutes of the news,” Childers said, “about a dozen-plus family and friends were gathered around April’s bed in intensive care praying for her. We put her in God’s hands and trusted Him with the outcome.”
Childers said that in addition to the group of family and friends praying at the hospital, he sent the request out on the church email prayer chain. Also Ed Moncada, who is jointly employed by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and is a member of South County Baptist, was at a conference in Atlanta. He was able to announce the prayer request from the podium for the 13,000 pastors in attendance.
“Ed is a prayer warrior himself,” Childers said, “but, this multiplied the prayer dramatically for April.”
Childers also told of the tight bond between her and the congregation.
“She is the first one anyone talks to when they call the church,” he said. “She is a wonderful blessing as she gets to know each one in the congregation personally. Everyone in the congregation felt like it was their little sister in need of prayer and the family came together to pray.”
The response from God was almost immediate. She spent nine days in the hospital and came back to work Oct. 22.
“I really surprised everyone when I awoke with no brain damage,” Brooks said. “My family was so relieved when I identified that I knew who they were.”
Apparently the medical field also had a surprise.
“Even the medical personnel,” Brooks said, “believed a higher power definitely intervened.”
Childers said the numbers of people in the intensive care room indicated the serious situation.
“I learned from an intensive care nurse later,” he said, “that the only reason that they let all of us go into her room to pray was because they didn’t think she would make it through the next afternoon.”
According to Brooks, doctors didn’t have any explanation for her heart suddenly stopping. As a prevention measure, they implanted a pacemaker and cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) in her chest before leaving the hospital.
Since her hospital stay, Brooks is filled with gratitude for God’s mercy to her.
“Sometimes as I’m standing during worship time at church, I just send up a ‘thank you, Jesus’ for each breath that I’m able to take,” she said.
Brooks also has become a strong believer in prayer.
“I’ve started praying for Christians who are persecuted for their faith,” she said. “Our family has always been close, but now, my sister says, ‘I love you … bunches.’”
Childers also said he sees a difference in the church family.
“We’ve seen God move in significant ways in our congregation,” he said. “When we see something like this happen to someone who is the picture of health, it is God’s reminder to His people that they need to step up and serve Christ in the passion of the moment. The church has been brought together with a focus on Him.”
VICKI STAMPS/contributing writer