Tyler State Park, TX, c.1981. One fine, sunny day we were off to the park with a group of friends. We carried our coolers through the woods to one of the picnic sites on the edge of the lake. That was our headquarters for an afternoon of fun.

Food and frolic, fun and friends, it was a time of refreshing for all of us thirty-somethings. The kids played in the warm water, as their parents looked on from the shade. How could we know the peace and relaxation was about to come to an abrupt end?

For reasons that are lost to time, we had all walked back together to the nearby parking area, where we were looking at one of the cars. Suddenly, we heard a commotion from the direction of the lake. Most of our group hurried toward the sound. I hung back a little, never having been one to chase an ambulance, so to speak.

As I began to amble after the others, I felt a familiar tug from my inmost being. A peculiar expression formed in my mind. “Rebuke death,” were the words. I didn’t quite understand, but I trusted the source, so I spoke the words. “I rebuke death in the name of Jesus.”

I had never thought of death as a personal entity, but I realized right away that the concept was consistent with scripture. So I repeated the command several times on my way back to the lake. “I rebuke death in the name of Jesus.”

When I arrived at the scene, there was a great deal of excitement, especially from the picnic area nearest to ours. There a group of Mexican immigrants had also been enjoying a lovely Sunday afternoon, when it suddenly erupted into tragedy.

None of them spoke English, but April had been raised in Columbia by her missionary parents. She was able to get the facts in the midst of the hubbub. A five-year-old boy had gone missing.

The men in their company were diving frantically into the murky waters. Over and over, they plunged in, further and further from the shore. The young boy’s mother knelt, bolt upright in the sand, crying out repeatedly with gut-wrenching pleas, “Señor! O Señor!” A mother’s desperate cries for mercy ripped through every heart.

In the broken conversation, we came to the realization that all of us, in both groups, were Christians. We were separated by a barrier of language, but joined by a bond of Blood. We all prayed together in one accord. I also continued to rebuke death.

It seemed like half an hour, but was probably closer to ten minutes, when one of the young men burst up from the water with the boy’s arm in his grasp. He rushed to shore, and laid the lifeless body on the sand. The lad was limp and cyanotic, with his eyes rolled back. His parents wailed in helpless agony.

There were no cell phones in those days. The nearest hospital was 20 miles away. The only help was right there on the lakeside.

Just then, John stepped up. We barely knew John, let alone that he was an EMT. (He was down from north Texas, visiting with his brother’s family.) He immediately began to administer CPR. (He confided later that it never works in cases like this.) His training took over, and he began the hopeless task of trying to revive the little guy.

At last, the boy began to cough up water. He took a breath, then another. His color returned, and he started to breathe on his own. As John returned him to his mother, April interpreted, explaining that he still needed to see a doctor. He had been a long time without oxygen.

The parents took the boy away, and we gathered our belongings.

A few days later, April encountered the young Mexican family in town. They did not take him to a doctor. They thought the child had only been asleep. There were no apparent signs of brain damage. The family continued to lead a happy life until we eventually lost touch with them.

But on one Sunday afternoon by the lake, the Holy Ghost orchestrated a miracle. He brought together the players to answer a mother’s prayer, even before she knew to pray.

Who ever heard of rebuking death? Yet I began to do so before I knew the cause.

How could a missionary from Columbia be on hand to translate for Mexicans in Texas? But April was there.

John was an EMT from hundreds of miles away, but his skill and persistence were present to save a life.

Hmm? I wonder what that boy has become.


“Hey my brother and my friend, I am so glad to find this site. I had forgotten that you were with us at Tyler state park when the boy had drowned. Johnny my brother who did the CPR asked after the boy came back to life who the man was who had his hand on his shoulder and coached him through the process of resuscitation. We told him there was no one there with him that we could see.”     –Tim

Reply:  “Psa 103:20 “Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.”

“I wasn’t aware of the story of Johnny’s coach!

“It seems to me that we don’t see very many angelic visitations because we don’t give “voice” to “his word.” None of us that day was standing up as “God’s Man of Faith and Power.” But the dominant authority of the name of Jesus was being declared before principalities and powers. (Phil.2:9-19)

“With 35 years of perspective, it looks like we were authorizing the intervention that forced death itself to bow its knee and confess that Jesus is Lord. We just didn’t know we were doing it!

“I wonder how many times we struggle because we are living below our privilege as the Sons of God (1Jn.3:2).”