COLUMBUS, Ohio (BP) — Before his “eureka moment,” one of Pastor Reginald Hayes’ favorite meals was a McDonald’s fish sandwich. He could buy one, eat it in the car and be tempted to buy another upon reaching the next McDonald’s just around the corner.
That all changed when a medical misstep during a simple removal of a polyp from his upper gastrointestinal tract landed him in the hospital. His incision not properly cauterized, he bled profusely internally. Two blood transfusions, a liquid diet and seven days later, he was 14 pounds lighter and not missing his usual culinary fare.
God not only delivered him from overeating and a poor diet, but gave him a testimony to encourage others to be obedient, discerning and humble before the Lord, said Hayes, pastor of United Faith International Baptist Church in Columbus, and president of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio.
“It was there that my eureka moment had come in,” Hayes said as he recalled his Jan. 14th discharge from the hospital. “In the past, going without eating, it didn’t take very long for my stomach to let me know I was hungry and to alert me, ‘You need to do something about it.’ And quite naturally, I would do something about it.”
But from midnight Jan. 8 through the 14th, doctors fed him only liquids. There were no fast-food sandwiches, no pizzas, cakes, ice-cream nor any of the sugar-laden food that had ladled 250 pounds onto his 5’11” frame.
“I said, ‘OK Lord, is this really the message that you’re trying to tell me, that I don’t need all of this food and I can do without it and it’s not going to hurt me and it’s really better for me?’” Hayes said. “And that all came from because I wasn’t craving. I wasn’t longing. I wasn’t anxious.”
Hayes has cleaned up his plate. He eats a healthy diet, weighs himself daily and registered 203 pounds today (July 12), he said, enjoying a daily range of 200 to 205 pounds.
Hayes praises God for the change in his life and sees greater applications in the experience.
“I just believe it’s one of those things where, you can parallel it to a Christian who has been in the world, and all of a sudden they have that eureka moment and behold, all things become new. They’ve been changed and they’ll never go back to where they were before,” Hayes said. “And that’s how it is for me. I just praise the Lord for it. It’s given me the ability to do a lot of great things that I think I should be doing. I’m the state president here in Ohio and I don’t have to huff and puff.”
Years younger in high school, Hayes was the biggest one in his family of 14 siblings. Even including his father, he said, he outweighed everyone by 20 pounds. The weight continued to climb as he grew older.
There was no fanfare in Hayes’ change. He made no major announcement. He simply Googled a healthy diet for someone in his health condition – considered pre-diabetic with high blood pressure – and found a prescription including spinach, tuna, turkey, no added sugar or honey, and healthy salads without all the fixings.
“It was really me hearing, I believe, from God,” he said. “Even a few days earlier I had been reading in my devotional. And in that devotional it was James 4:17. And it said, ‘To him who knows to do good and does not do it, it is sin.’ And that just kept on going in my mind.”
He no longer has high blood pressure and his sugar levels are normal, he said.
“I just believe that hospital stay was a bigger piece than what it ultimately was to the doctors,” he said. “And I believe God was just getting my attention, even though He had to do it in that kind of a way. Because I had always said I’ve got to do better.”
Hayes enjoyed hiking in Costa Rica on family vacation with his wife Mary, four children, four grandchildren and son-in-law.
His grandchildren’s refrain? “Papaw was able to keep up with everybody.”