I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted an update, and I’ve placed a number of projects on hold due to some other priorities, but right now my dad is in ICU fighting for his life. The doctors have given him 24-48 hours to live, but I believe in my heart that this sickness is not unto death. We NEED him alive! Please please please pray for my dad – that God would heal him from the liver and spleen cancer, his lungs would be cleared, that his liver and kidneys would kick back in and start cleansing his body of the toxins, and that all his blood levels and vitals would get to and stay normal! His name is Ron Sr. and he desperately needs the Grace and Mercy of our King right now.
I couldn’t think of a better way to title this post… I wanted this to not only serve the purpose of sharing with you what I went through, but also to serve as a reminder to me if I ever start to go back to my old ways so here it is:
This past Friday morning I woke up after a long trip to Tampa, Florida that lasted the week. This was going to be a special day as it was the day before my son’s birthday. We were going to Sea World as a family in celebration. We were looking forward to this day for months. When I got up, the entire right side of my body was numb and literally felt partially disconnected from my brain. My right leg and arm would obey commands but both were very weak so I limped to the bathroom and started brushing my teeth thinking I must have been sleeping in a bad position and figured—hoped it would go away. After brushing my teeth I headed to the shower wondering how this would affect the gift God has given me if this were permanent. The thought truly frightened me. When I started shampooing my hair, I noticed my right hand was hardly moving while my left hand was promptly obeying commands from my brain briskly shifting back and forth across my scalp. This is when I knew something was wrong so I finished up, grabbed my iPhone, and googled the symptoms, but my phone was stuck loading the results. At this point the wife and kids were calling me out of the bedroom excited about what the day would bring. Sanban’s first words to me were “It’s the day before my birthday!” with a big smile on his face – Jake repeating the same words to me telling me as if it were the first time I was hearing the phrase. I immediately explained to Yoko what was happening to me but these symptoms – especially described in my state of mind just brought about more confusion in both of us so she went to finish up getting ready while I headed to the studio computer to see about buying Sea World tickets online. With the limp still in full affect and the symptoms not subsiding I decided to click open another tab and search the symptoms again. The results loaded with not 10, 5, or even 3 possibilities. Only two possible diagnoses – Stroke or TIA (mini-stroke). I immediately went to Yoko and told her – we need to go to the hospital. The drive there seemed like an eternity – wondering if more of my brain was literally dying every second it took to get to the hospital. Then we and everyone else on the road crawled to a stop, we moved forward what felt like a few inches, then another stop. We had never seen the traffic this bad on this road. What should have been a 10 minute drive looked like it would take forever. I could see the stress and the worry in Yoko’s face – her eyes gripping the road and cars in front of her almost as tightly as her hands gripped the steering wheel. I remember telling Yoko with a tear in my eye, “If this is it, you have to make sure the Music To Pray By Album master is published!” I know God created me for this purpose. As we continued to sit in traffic, my mind began to race – if only we would have called 911… if only we had got an ambulance… if only… After 50 minutes of waiting in traffic, I limped into the emergency room and told the attendant, “I think I’m having a stroke” and described my symptoms. She asked me to fill out a short form and with confusion I answered a few simple questions she asked at which point I heard her say to listeners unknown to me over a radio, “I have to call stroke protocol”. She immediately sat me down to take my vitals. They supported the stroke theory at which point she walked me back to a room where more than 8 doctors, nurses, and assistants were standing around a hospital bed waiting for me to lie down. I was ordered to take my shirt off at which point they began to place untold numbers of sensors on my chest and stomach. All these wires – what are they for? What do they do? So may questions in my head… So much confusion… “…what is your date of birth?!” “…what year is it?!” “…what is your name?! ‘Ronald John’ or ‘Ronald Johnssss'” I tried to keep up with all the questions, but that one particularly bothered me. “Ronald Johns” I said, or did I? They rolled me into a big machine all the while explaining what was going to happen. Answers were coming – I was so tired of all the questions. While the CT scanner was spinning around my head I prayed, “LORD, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for not taking care of the body you gave me. I commit to You that will change if I make it out of here alive. I promise.” So many promises broken. So many commitments unkept. Could I keep this one? Was I done? Was this the day God takes me home? My vision for Music To Pray By was incomplete. I had imagined 30-40 more years of creating music – bringing praise and worship to my King here on earth. This couldn’t be it could it?
The fog of “stroke protocol” finally came crashing to an end. A doctor stood at my bedside and said, “Good news! You’re not having a stroke”. He went on to say that I likely experienced a TIA or a mini-stroke and that I was going to be admitted to the hospital for further evaluation. I knew my kids would be crushed – no Sea World today. Once I was moved out of the emergency room to a hospital room, I began to notify friends and family of the news. The plan was to run more tests, get an MRI in the morning, then go home – just in time to prepare for church services. Yoko and the kids left to get me some necessities – extra clothes, my tech gadgets, my laptop bag, and my in-ear monitors as Billy had just sent me the mastered proof of the album and I was hoping after 5 previous rejected proofs from another mastering company that this would be the one. Once the family made it back, we spent some time together talking about Sanban’s birthday and the next steps, but it didn’t take long for the kids to get restless. Once they left, I broke out the in-ear monitors, listened and immediately entered into prayer, thankful that the circumstances weren’t worse. Thankful that this master could be the one after a month of disappointments. Thankful to be alive. Next on the to-do list was preparation for Sunday services. I immediately went to work – listening to the set list and charting songs tapping away at my bedside table testing the dexterity in my right hand. Things feel normal – that’s a good sign.. There… I was ready to go for Sunday Morning.
The night was long and sleepless. Every 2-3 hours someone was waking me up from my slumber to poke, prod, or interrogate me. “Now I understand why people don’t like to come here…” I thought as I tried to still my mind and go back to sleep for the 3rd time.
The morning came and the next thing I know I’m being wheeled to the MRI machine by a young man asking me a number of questions that would afford any clue as to whether or not there was any material on or in my body that would be susceptible to magnets. Once we were there, he explained what the experience would be like – 30 whole minutes of laying perfectly still – not my idea of fun, but maybe I could catch up on some z’s. I was given earplugs as if I were headed to the shooting range and once I was in the contraption, I understood why. There were clicks, bangs, and buzzes loud enough to likely do permanent hearing damage if it weren’t for the ear protection and the foam around my head to keep it still. 17 minutes in, the tech came on the intercom and announced I only had to endure for 3 more minutes. It seemed longer than the previous 17, but I made it! Now, the doc can tell me everything is fine and I can go home.
After the past 24 hours, I knew some serious lifestyle changes were afoot. I was good – “message received LORD.” Once I was in the room, I put the album on again – with my in-ear monitors, praying in my mind – keeping my promise not to miss a single day for at least a month – maybe my whole life. “This time with You LORD IS the most important time”, I spoke with my mind. I then pulled up my daily Bible plan on my iPhone and began to read and think.
Next thing I knew, the neurology doctor in a rush came into my room explaining that my MRI was good – no signs of a stroke, and based on all the evidence, I didn’t even have a TIA. I believe it was called a hemiplegic migraine, which meant there would be no prescription meds – just a change in diet and work on getting my blood pressure under control. Great news – relief washed over me. I was going home soon and this nightmare would soon be over. While discussing this, there were two circumstances that led her away from this conclusion. One was my blood pressure at the time I was admitted, and the second was that the symptoms disappeared sooner than they would have in the case of a hemiplegic migraine. While another assistant was looking at my heart using ultrasound, the doctor came back with one of my MRI pictures on her laptop were she showed me a very small area on the left side of my brain that indicated a full-out stroke. She told me that was dead brain tissue. I immediately began to wonder what was contained there that is no longer. Was it a childhood memory? Was it the ability to hear new melodies in my head? Was it something – a memory that was more harm than good? There was no way to know because it was gone. Depression – a familiar feeling as they told me I would have to stay at the hospital till possibly Monday. No church service – I was going to let my team down for the first time in as long as I could recall. As the seriousness of the circumstance began to close in on me, I began to text. First, my pastor and creative arts director so they could prepare for my absence. Then, my family – what to say to not cause too much worry? I felt fine, but I obviously wasn’t fine. I had a stroke – something that could have easily claimed my ability to serve the Kingdom of God here on earth – at least in the way I was used to and loved to.
Next came more and more tests to try and find the source of the vein blockage in my head. Was it a blood clot? Was it fatty tissue? There were scans, blood tests, more scans, and more tests. The highlight of the time in the hospital room were the visits from church families. It is truly a blessing to have the friends that I have. It helped to talk about the situation and communicate out-loud the re-plotting of my life’s course correction. Each visit ended with a prayer – prayers that truly inspired and encouraged me.
After the final exam Sunday Morning, I was so ready to go home and start my new life – a life I am truly blessed to have. They were not able to find the source of the clot, but they did confirm a hole in my heart – the song, “God-shaped hole” popped into mind and a smile across my face in an awkward point of the doctor’s explanation, but I didn’t care. I have a God-shaped hole in my heart – one that will remain there till I vacate this body to be with my Savior. This hole means that my lifestyle has to change in order for me to remain alive, but I am truly thankful for the second chance. I am thankful this happened to me as I already see in many ways God’s Will being worked out in it.
Now, I’m home with the family taking it easy. I’ve listened over the master again in the studio and I’m so excited about the end result! Billy has put the finishing touches on it and I should have the master in-hand today or tomorrow at which point it will be mailed in for replication and publication on the iTunes store. The whole process should take less than a month so it will likely be published before my 41st birthday and I hope and pray I will be given enough time on this earth to complete many many more of these projects as one of my life’s missions is to inspire God’s people to pray. More updates coming.
Our prayers have had a tremendous impact! While Yoko was in Okinawa visiting her sister, God opened up a perfect opportunity for her to share the love of Jesus with her sister, and Eiko agreed to pray with her and received Jesus into her heart! That which seemed impossible God made possible!
I had also asked for prayer that God would put in Eiko’s path believers. Before Yoko arrived in Okinawa, she was transferred to a hospice founded by a Christian, filled with Christians, prayer rooms, live worship, and New Testament Bibles! Out of all the places she could end up, this is truly a miracle.
One more update – Eiko’s health appears to be improving! In fact, she has improved so much that the staff at the hospice have encouraged her and her family to get a second opinion. She is also out of the wheelchair and is getting around more on her own. Still no official word yet on the cancer, but I believe God has fully healed her from this terminal disease! My prayer now is that she will fully recognize God’s Hand in all of this and give Him all the Glory – please pray with me, also that the Holy Spirit would give her boldness in her new faith.
We hear these sort of stories on occasion, but something this close to home just leaves me in awe of God’s Wondrous Mercy and Grace! Please continue to pray for her and her family as I believe through this the door will be opened for the rest of Yoko’s family to know Jesus! I post this with much love for you all and can’t thank you enough for your prayers as they have had a miraculous impact.
Our God is an Awesome God!
A quick MTPB update – Podcast 67 has been recorded and I’m in the process of editing. My goal is to get it posted this weekend or next so please stay tuned.
Yoko’s oldest sister, Eiko was recently diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. It has already spread to her brain and liver and the doctors are giving her 2 months to live. She has 3 siblings ranging from 20 years old to 9 years old. She is only 48 years old, and has played a very special role in Yoko’s life as she’s mailed stuff and communicated more than anybody else in her family except for her mom. She is scheduled for radiation therapy on Monday. She does not know Jesus, and Yoko is planning to fly to Okinawa soon.
When I found out, I immediately started to pray that God would put in her path people who know the Truth, and God has already answered that prayer. Within days, Yoko’s mom told her that a parent whose child attended the same private school her daughter went to asked Eiko point-blank if she believed in Jesus and Eiko did not know what to say. Yoko’s mom made it sound like an awkward encounter, and the fact she said “believe” instead of “know” is a little odd, but the fact that Eiko felt it important enough to communicate this encounter to her mom, and for her mom to communicate it to Yoko means something. I do believe this was a direct answer to my prayer considering that only around 1% of Japanese know and believe in Jesus as their Savior – truly a miracle!
It will take many more miracles for Eiko to believe in Jesus, but with God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE! Please pray that Eiko’s heart would continue to be softened, that she would be open and curious about the Truth, and that she will begin to seek out the Truth! Also pray that God through the Holy Spirit would prepare Yoko for this unbelievably important encounter – that God would give her a courage and boldness she’s never experienced before. Pray that the Holy Spirit would give Yoko the right words in order to speak the Truth in love in a way that Eiko will hear, understand, and receive.
Also, please pray for healing. I truly believe through healing God could open the doors for Yoko’s entire family to come to Christ. The doctor stated it would take “a miracle” for her to make it through this stage of cancer. We know our God is more than capable of miracles.
I thank each one of you from the bottom of my heart for praying with me – Eiko means so much to Yoko, and even more to our Loving, Heavenly Father.
It is difficult to get into the details of what has happened to me over the past 3 months, but I feel it is important to share this with you. Mid-April was a huge turning point in my life. I had just left my job at AT&T to become a consultant with a much smaller company, the Soundwave tour was in full swing with weekly practices and concerts, there was my commitment to The Connection Church ministry leadership and worship teams, and Yoko and the kids were getting ready to leave for Okinawa without me for 3 weeks. On top of all of this, the enemy took huge advantage of a very weak point when I was under for a dental surgery. I literally thought I was dying and it was as though every Truth about our existence in God’s Word ceased to exist and my entire foundation was shaken to the core. I was flooded with more doubt and depression than I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. I began to spend every spare moment I could find listening to God’s Word in the car, praying, reading the Bible, but the “near-death experience” had me convinced EVERYTHING was meaningless. It was so crushing that it took me 3 days just to recognize it as a spiritual attack. When I did, the enemy no longer tried to hide the evidence of the attack, which increased exponentially with fear added to the mix – unexplainable fear. I immediately began to call and text family and friends to pray. That night, I sought after God and relied on The Holy Spirit more than ever.
Over the past few months, there have been victories, but there have also been struggles with depression, doubt, and fear like never before. A split-second thought followed by wave after wave of spine-chilling goosebumps, sometimes occurring over and over for hours! Throughout most of my life, the enemy has used my flesh with sinful desires and bad habits, occasional doubt, etc., but this was different. It was truly a non-stop war on my mind. I have never had thoughts enter my mind that made my soul cringe like this – thoughts I don’t have the words to describe, and the enemy would trick me into pondering these thoughts to the point of spiraling into deep, dark depression that would last for days. Over time, God began to bring into greater light the spiritual war that was going on. Truth in the scriptures like 2 Corinthians 10:5, prayer, family (especially my bro David), and the same Power that raised Christ from the dead gave me renewed hope and peace. Our God is so faithful!
I truly believe that God is doing some GREAT things through this ministry and the enemy is not happy about it. Prayer IS the way we wage this invisible war by the Power of the Holy Spirit, and this fact has never been more real to me. A few days ago when I posted on Facebook asking for prayer, it had been another very rough few days dealing with a weight of depression that had no explanation whatsoever. I could literally feel the depression lift as you guys prayed for me.
I hope this encourages you to pray continually. Pray for the state of our nation. Pray for those affected by the Colorado shooting. Pray for the unsaved in your churches. Pray for your pastors, your family! …and if you have time, I am eternally grateful for any prayers lifted up on my behalf. Satan is a formidable enemy, but GREATER is He that is in me than he that is in the world!!! – 1 John 4:4
I just finished a 5 day fast that was required for the clense I decided to do, and that is the longest I’ve ever gone without eating. All I had from Wednesday to Sunday afternoon was apple juice, water, some coffee, green tea, and the herbal suplements I purchased from Blessed Herbs. My brother, David suggested it to me. I do feel a lot better today, but felt horrible over the weekend. That is why I was unable to do a MTPB podcast. I think it was worth it though. Sorry for missing last week. I’ll do my best to make this week’s even better!