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Amidst life-wrenching illness, man in coma finds faith in Christ

TULSA, Okla. (BP)–Frank Bradshaw always was thankful he was saved from almost certain death more than a half-century ago while training to be a pilot during World War II, but he now tells of experiencing the ultimate salvation experience last July 4.

While in a drug-induced coma, Bradshaw, who had never accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, was prayed over fervently by his family, most prominently his son, Lance. The former pilot heard every word his son prayed. More importantly, he accepted Christ during the ordeal and was baptized a couple of weeks later by Larry DeLay, pastor of the Tulsa-area Crossroads Fellowship Church.

On June 16, Bradshaw experienced what might have been a minor stroke when he went to a local tag agency to get a new tag for his boat. He had difficulty speaking, and his physician subsequently scheduled him for a CAT scan the following Monday, June 19. The scan indicated no problem, so Bradshaw was scheduled to undergo an angiogram at St. John’s Hospital June 28.

Unfortunately, a procedure which was designed to take only a couple of hours led to a life-threatening, week-long ordeal when Bradshaw apparently had an extreme adverse reaction to iodine used during the procedure.

When the drug used in the procedure reached his brain, Bradshaw immediately lost his sight and began throwing up. He also complained that his insides were “burning up” and began struggling vigorously to get away from those attending him.

“It felt like they had a red-hot poker in my chest, and I felt like if I could just get out of there and get some cold water, it would put the fire out,” he recalled.

Bradshaw’s daughter, Linda Mann, who accompanied her parents to the hospital for the angiogram, said attending physicians told her they rarely had seen such a violent reaction. “One doctor said he hadn’t seen anything like it in 10 years,” she recounted. “Soon, dad was in big trouble. When he heard my voice, he said, ‘Sis, they’re burning me up.'”

Bradshaw was transferred to the surgical intensive care unit, yet still continued to struggle to get out of bed and find some relief from the burning sensation which raged in his chest. The nurses and orderlies finally got his arms strapped to the bed, but he actually worked his way out of the restraints during the night, despite receiving a sedative. Sons Lance and Greg stayed with him that night, and after battling them for hours, Bradshaw finally fell asleep from exhaustion.

The next morning, doctors decided to give Bradshaw a stronger sedative, since he was strapped down tightly and still was vigorously fighting the restraints.

“They had him tied down tight, and he was jerking his arms worse than ever,” Lance said. “We thought the stronger sedative would help, but unfortunately, it had just the opposite effect and it sent dad into a violent, uncontrolled rage.”

Lance called his pastor, DeLay, to ask for prayer support for his father. “Lance said it was like a demon was trying to tear out of his body,” DeLay said. “We prayed several times and asked the Lord to save and deliver Frank, and because of his lost condition, that God would spare him. Deep down inside, I really felt that Satan was trying to kill Frank.”

Soon, Bradshaw was placed into a drug-induced coma by the physicians. “The doctors said the only thing they could do was put him into the coma, because he literally was ripping himself apart,” Lance said. “They knew he was wearing his body down, and they felt he eventually would die.”

While he was in a coma, Bradshaw’s family joined hands and prayed over him several times, always led by Lance. Lance also presented “a layman’s version” of the gospel to his father, who was kept in the coma for four days.

On July 3, the doctors decided to bring Bradshaw slowly out of his coma. Early the next morning — July 4 — Bradshaw finally began talking to his family.

When asked if he knew what happened while he was in the comatose state, Bradshaw said, “I saw heaven and I saw hell, and Jesus saved me.

“The Promised Land is actually what I saw. I remember thinking I was flying 6,000 miles per hour — I don’t know why that fast — and I could look back over my left shoulder and see hell. Now, I don’t know what hell looks like, but I could see an amber-yellow glare and flash lightning.”

As his family listened, stunned, Bradshaw continued, “I had passed hell and could see the Promised Land, which was full of vineyards and vegetable gardens, on my right. I was circling, and I never saw Jesus, but a voice called me to come on up if I wanted to receive the Lord, and this was my opportunity to do so, so I did.”

Later that morning, Lance called DeLay and asked him to come to the hospital. “I told Larry that dad was awake and talking about being saved through his experience,” Lance said.

DeLay rushed to the hospital and began to talk with Bradshaw. “I asked him that if something had happened to him while he was in the coma and he had died was he sure that he would have gone to heaven, and he said, ‘No, but I believe now,'” DeLay said.

“I wanted Frank to be sure he understood what had happened and to know consciously that he had been saved, so I led him through the prayer of salvation again,” DeLay added. “He was visibly moved and humbled by what had happened to him.”

Since his experience, Bradshaw has shared his new faith with old and new friends alike.

“I had never heard him say anything spiritual or biblical in my entire life,” Lance said. “He is a changed man and is a lot better person now.”

DeLay baptized Bradshaw July 23, along with several others, in a borrowed swimming pool, since the new church doesn’t have a building or a baptistry.

“I had been praying for almost nine months for my husband and my other son to be saved,” Bradshaw’s wife, Anna Mae, said. “In my mind, I think God had all of this as part of his plan. Now, I think God will use Frank to save our son. Wouldn’t that be awesome?”

After additional tests, doctors still have no diagnosis that Frank had a stroke. “That just affirms to me that God was working in all of this,” Anna Mae concluded.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.sbcbaptistpress.org. Photo title: FRANK BRADSHAW.

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  • Bob Nigh