Do you believe in miracles?
A character in my upcoming novel, Always Think of Me, does. But what real people? I posed that question on social media several weeks ago, figuring why not kick off the new year with stories about supernatural events that science can’t explain. Think Fatima. Lourdes. Mind-blowing healings.
Tom Donnan, someone I didn’t know, was the first to respond.
“I had a second heart attack in 2006,” he wrote in an email. “I was already in the ambulance when I flatlined. They brought me back, but not before God spoke to me.”
That got my attention.
Do you believe in miracles? This Chicago-area author and speaker has had many. And because of these experiences, he has devoted his life to ministering primarily to pastors who want to ignite a revival in their spiritually moribund churches.
This, he believes, is his calling.
When we talked, he was driving through Oklahoma. “I see myself as an Amos,” he said, referring to the Old Testament herder and farmer who wasn’t a prophet or the son of one. But God used Amos to warn the Northern Kingdom of its imminent destruction unless the people turned from their idolatry and repented.
“I don’t have a pedigree. Just a message,” Tom continued. Traveling solo or with another revival minister, Tom intercedes, prays, and identifies unrepentant sin that hinders Christians from deeper, more fulfilling relationships with God.
Tom, like Amos, has a spiritual gift—the ability to experience and interpret visions and dreams and then communicate those messages to those needing to hear them.
And it all began because of a life-changing experience that happened three weeks before he died of a massive heart attack.
The date was January 20, 2006. Tom was 54 at the time.
Still working full-time as an elevator repairman, Tom had gone to bed that night, but hadn’t fallen asleep when he seemed to travel to a different time and place. He found himself in a lawyer’s office, 20 years younger.
“I was with my two daughters, who were three and five,” Tom said. “I was roughhousing with them and could smell them, hear their heartbeats. Oh wow. I was their dad again. They needed me. They loved me, and I wanted to maximize the experience.”
That’s when an impeccably dressed older man appeared. ‘“I want your girls to see this,’” Tom remembered the man telling him, annoyed that the senior had interrupted his special moment with his children. “‘Your daughters are about to receive an inheritance, and you are the legal guardian of that inheritance.’”
From a tube, the man then extracted a topographic map highlighting the American heartland, from central Texas, Oklahoma, the two Dakotas toward Canada, and then to the western edge of the Appalachian Mountains. In the map’s legend, Tom saw the number 376. It seemed to jump off the paper.
What Did this Mean?
The supernatural, out-of-body experience reduced him to tears, he said. Tom knew it came from God and had special meaning, but “I was way over my head. Totally ignorant and innocent in interpreting symbolic and complex messages.”
What was God trying to show him?
Days passed before he discovered James Strong’s The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, an index of every word in the King James Version. “From that moment it began to make sense,” Tom said.
According to the lexicon, the number means mankind. “Receiving heightened awareness by the Holy Spirit,” Tom said he then began to understand that his daughters represented the church and the guardian (him) symbolized pastors who were responsible for making sure their flocks received their inheritance.
He said 2 Chronicles 7:14 kept coming to mind:
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
A spiritual revival, especially in areas highlighted on the map, needed to happen.
The Near-Death Experience and Healing
Three weeks later, Tom’s path forward became crystal clear.
But first he had to die.
He remembers every detail. The snow. The freezing temperatures. How he never lost conscious thought and saw his body floating above the ambulance. “I was not in pain. It was like a twilight. Peaceful. And that’s when I heard God speak in a deep, masculine voice:
“‘It is only while you are on Earth that you can work for Jesus.’ The medics hit me with the (defibrillator) paddles and that quick I was back in my body.”
Do you believe in miracles? Tom has no doubt.
“I know God worked a miracle in me,” he continued. Six months after his brush with death, he heard a roaring wind high above his body. A subsequent MRI revealed an undamaged, nearly new heart.
“I knew then that God would be using me in powerful ways. I had my life back and I would begin a healing and revival ministry.”