Escape From Death

The Slaybaugh Story

By Rose Slaybaugh



Tuesday afternoon Roy was near death. The membranes in his throat collapsed. He dropped his mouth open and started gasping for breath. I said, "Nurse, what's the matter with his mouth and tongue?"

She said, "Didn't the doctor tell you about that?"

"No, he never said there was anything wrong with his mouth." It looked like it was full of coagulated blood; his tongue had swollen so much. It had been severely injured when he was thrown over the steering wheel. Later Tuesday afternoon his fingernails began to turn dark, and his face started to swell. I was praying; with almost every breath I was asking God to please not take Roy away from me. But my prayers didn't seem to reach very much higher than that little low ceiling. Why? How could I ask God to do that which apparently was impossible? It wasn't fair to God. The doctor had told me how critically injured Roy was and gave me very, very little hope for his recovery. I had overheard a relative whispering to someone in the little outer hallway, "As soon as it's all over, I'll drive you home in my car so you can get your family and your car and go back to Spokane with us to the funeral." I also over heard one of the Wimers say, "As soon as it's all over, we're going to take Rose home with us in our car."

The nurse came to me that afternoon and said, "Mrs. Slaybaugh, have you thought of the funeral?"

"Oh, no; do you have a funeral home here?"

"We have ambulance service. They'll take him as far as Coquille, Oregon. There's a railroad station there. Just in case you're not able to go along with him, have you told anyone your plans?"

"No, I haven't. Be sure that he's taken back to Spokane and laid beside Jack in the Riverside Park Cemetery." I told her where they could find his dark suit and a new white shirt in the trunk at home. That afternoon I saw a man polishing a hearse. I knew who he was polishing that hearse for. With all this in the back of my mind, how could I ask God to do that which seemed impossible?

Later that evening the Wimers came in again and asked me to go in their car with them for a drive.

I said, "Oh, please, not now! I mustn't leave him now. He's dying."

"Yes," Mr. Wimer said, "but we'd like to talk to you."

So I got in the car, and when we started driving, I said, "Mr. Wimer, why has this thing happened to us? Why does God treat His children like this? First He takes our Jack away from us, and then we struggle along and find this wonderful truth and come down here to do missionary work. We left our home to come down here to this little town to work for the Lord, and we are winning precious souls for Christ's kingdom. Why does He treat us like this?"

"Please, Rose, don't talk like that. Don't ask anybody that question. No one can answer it. The only thing I can say is perhaps the Lord is finished with Roy's work here on earth."

"All right, I'll try to understand, but please take me back to him again."

As I was getting out of the car Mr. Wimer asked if I had thought about calling some of the ministers and having them pray for Roy and anoint him. I didn't understand what he was talking about. This was one doctrine that I did not understand. I remembered how we used to read about when Jesus was here on earth how He would go about healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, and raising the dead. But that was when the Saviour was here on earth. So I didn't understand what he was talking about, and he didn't say anything more about it. I went back to Roy and stood again all night. At four o'clock Wednesday morning I was standing with my back to the bed, looking out of the window into the darkness and wondering why this was happening to us. Wasn't there any help for me? I had a forsaken feeling of being left all alone. I recalled the many promises in the Bible, especially the one in Hebrews 13:5, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."

Just then a nurse came in with a glass of water and two little white tablets. She said, "Mrs. Slaybaugh, will you please take these now?" The doctor had been wanting me to take something to make me sleep, but I had said, "No, thank you, there'll be plenty of time for me to sleep after this is all over." I thought they were the same thing, but she said, "No, these won't make you sleep, but they'll quiet your nerves and buoy you up. The end is near."

The end! A tiny little word—only three letters, e-n-d. We can take a trip; we come to the end of it. But we can go again. This meant something different-the end of a life, the end of the life of my beloved. We had had such a wonderful life together. This would mean the end of everything that ever meant anything to me on this earth.

I thanked the nurse and told her I'd get along without anything. She went out of the room, and I was alone with him a few moments. Something was working in the back of my mind. What was it? What was it that Mr. Wimer had said? Why hadn't I paid more attention to him? He had said something about doing something, calling in somebody. I turned around, and there in the darkness of that room the answer came to me. "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." James 5:14, 15. It started then to darken and disappear, but brighter than ever it came back with an added line, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." There it was! There was the solution to the whole thing. All I had to do was to reach out and take that promise as God had flashed it to me.

I could hardly wait until morning. I called for Mr. Wimer. He came and I asked him, "What was it you said last night?"

He repeated it to me.

I said, "Hurry, hurry and do it! Roy is dying! We don't have very much time left."

He said, "I'd like to have another minister with me. Shall I send for Pastor Nightingale?"

"Oh, no, he's in Portland. He's ten hours away."

"I would like to have another minister with me," he repeated.

I said, "I know where you can get one. Call for Pastor T. L. Thuemler in Crescent City. I know he will come."

Mr. Wimer went to the telephone and called. Yes, Pastor Thuemler would come about noon.

By noon! Would this little flicker of life last till noon? Then I did some telephoning myself. I called Pastor Nightingale. He had called me as soon as he heard about the accident, to see if he should come or if he could do something. When I reached him, I said, "Pastor Nightingale, would you please have special prayer for Roy during the noon hour?" He said he would. I called friends in Spokane and asked them to do the same thing. Then I called a little group or believers at Eel Rock, California, where we had spent several months.

After making these calls, I went back to Roy, and prayed desperately that God would spare his life just another few minutes. He would almost stop breathing, and then I would press on his chest and he would gasp for another breath. At ten minutes to twelve the doctor stepped in on his way home for lunch. He picked up Roy's hands, looked at the darkened nails, and tenderly laid them down. Then he reached across the bed and patted me on the shoulder, and without a word he went out. About that time a car stopped out in front. It was Pastor Thuemler, here in time. I had not asked permission to have this done, I realized. I had been given many privileges during the days that I was there, and I must not do anything wrong now. I ran up the hallway, turned the corner to the next corridor, and then up to the nurses' quarters. They were seated at the table, eating their lunch. I whispered to the head nurse, "Is it all right? I've called the ministers to come and pray for Roy."

She said, "That's all right, Mrs. Slaybaugh. We can't do anything more for him."

I hurried back. The ministers came in and closed the door. There was Pastor Thuemler, who was going to do the anointing, Pastor and Mrs. Wimer, my brother, Roy's brother Joe, his two sons, the wife of one of the boys, and Roy and I. They walked in and stood around.

"Are there any unbelievers in this room?" Pastor Thuemler asked. "If so, would you please leave." I looked at our two nephews, tall, stalwart men of the world, both of them over six feet tall. But they didn't leave.

He said, "Then we'll all kneel." They all knelt but me. I had something else to do. I took Roy's two dying hands in mine and held them up to God. There was not going to be any ceiling between God and us now. Not a thing between us. If it was His will, He was going to reach down and take these hands that I was holding up to Him.

Pastor Wimer prayed a beautiful prayer. It was a quiet, sincere prayer of faith. When he finished Pastor Thuemler began, "Our Father, which art in heaven." He went on and pleaded with God. He asked God to spare this life that had been consecrated and dedicated to His work. When he came to that portion of the prayer where he said, "And now I anoint thee in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost," he poured the oil over his hand and reached up and touched the only part of Roy's head that was not bandaged.



The instant that Pastor Thuemler touched Roy's forehead something wonderful, something terribly wonderful, happened. There was a powerful shudder that started in the hands I was holding, and Roy trembled and shook all through his body. Then everything was still. Elder Thuemler went on praying. I thought, "I must look and see what the Lord has done." I opened my eyes and looked at the hands I was holding, and the darkness was going out of the tips of the fingernails. They were pink and natural looking. Roy had closed his mouth over his swollen tongue and was breathing through his nose naturally. The swelling had started to recede. First a nose took shape, then a mouth, then a chin, and then a throat as the swelling left.

All got up from their knees weeping. Pastor Thuemler said, "We'll all go out quietly. Brother Slaybaugh is going to be all right." He didn't say, "I think he's going to be all right," but "Brother Slaybaugh is going to be all right."

And with that he reached down and took hold of one of Roy's hands, and Roy gripped it and held it tight. Pastor Thuemler has been with us many times as we have told our story, and he tells Roy, "Brother Slaybaugh, I'll never forget that handshake as long as I live."

He reached around to open the door, and I said, "Please, not yet." And in the presence of those witnesses in that room I held my hand up to God and made a promise: "If You'll only spare Roy's life and give him back his sight and his right mind, I'll devote the rest of my life to Your service. I'll do anything and go any place that I'm ever called to go."

They all left the room. The nurse, Mrs. Humpage, was waiting outside the door. She came in, closed the door, and stood looking at Roy a moment. And what do you think he was doing? He was opening his mouth wider and a little wider until it grew into a great big healthy yawn. At once he seemed so tired.

She said, "I've never seen anything like this in my life." She walked around to the foot of the bed, and again he yawned.

A short time later the doctor came in on his way back to the office. He looked surprised and a little shocked when he looked at his patient. He did not know anybody had been in that room since he was there last. He did not know that I had sent for the ministers. He looked at Roy a moment, picked up his hands and looked at his fingernails, which were natural now, and dropped them. Then he took the bandage off the eye. I had seen the cavity where his eye had been as they had dressed it from day to day. To me it had seemed as though there were no eye there. But now there was an eye! The doctor passed his hand quickly over it, back and forth, and then he exclaimed, "And there's sight in it!" He sealed it shut, and out of the door he went.

His office nurse told us later how excited he was when he came back to the office that Wednesday noon. She had worked for him many years, and she told us that she had never seen him get excited over anything. But this time he came into the office exclaiming, "The man's going to live, the man's going to live! And more than that, he's got an eye with sight in it!"

I knew Roy was conscious now. Up to this time he had been unconscious. He opened his eye, the one that wasn't bandaged, and I said, "Hello there, honey."

He said, "Hello." And then he said, "I'm so hungry." He should have said, "When do we eat?" He hadn't had a bite of food since Sunday morning, and this was Wednesday afternoon.

I asked one of the nurses if she'd go across the street and bring us some ice cream. "Make it two servings, and make them big ones. We're going to have a party." I too was hungry. As I was feeding Roy his ice cream, he looked across the ceiling and said, "Rose, where am l?"

I said, "You're in a hospital."

"Oh," he said, "did something happen?"

I said, "Yes, there was a terrible accident."

"Was anyone hurt?"

Was anyone hurt!

"Yes, you're smashed all to pieces," I answered.

"Oh," he said, "I don't feel anything. I don't feel a thing."

Roy has never suffered one moment of pain from all those injuries. The Lord removed that from him. If it weren't for the scars on his forehead and ear, and, of course, our demolished car, Roy would never have known that he had been in an accident. During the first few days we were in the hospital, I asked the doctor, "Just in case Roy should get well, how long will you have to keep us here?"

"Well," he said, "these cases vary. I would say from three to five months."

After Roy finished his ice cream he said, "Now, Rose, I think we ought to go home."

"Oh," I said, "Roy, we're not going home for a long time. We're going to be here for at least three months."

"Well," he said, "if you want to stay, you stay. But I'm going home; I've got work to do."

Later that afternoon he kept complaining about his ear. I asked the nurse if she didn't think she should take care of it. I said, "I don't think it's been unbandaged since the doctor worked on it."

"No," she said, "we haven't touched the ear. I'll call the doctor to come over and take care of it."

Over the telephone he gave her the instructions of what to do, since he was busy. She brought a tray with the alcohol and scissors and cotton, and carefully unbandaged the ear and started cleaning it up, and there was this beautiful ear. Roy said, "Don't ever call it a beautiful ear. People don't have beautiful ears." But to me this is the most beautiful ear on earth because God put it back. Many doctors have told us that if anything more than Roy's ear had grown back, that in itself would be a miracle.

Do you remember another time somebody in haste clipped off an ear? It was Jesus who placed it back so tenderly. I feel that God placed Roy's ear back. It is a constant reminder when I look at it of what God has done for us.

Toward evening the head nurse came to me and said, "Mrs. Slaybaugh, do you realize that we don't have a nurse for Roy tonight?"

"Why,' I said, "isn't Mrs. Schneidau coming back?"

"No," she said, "she didn't expect to have a patient here tonight. And my car that I have been sending out to bring her in is on another errand, and I have no way of sending for her."

"Well," I said, "my nephew has his car here. He'll drive out and bring her in." This was done. When Mrs. Schneidau came in, she looked at Roy, but didn't say very much, It was about nine o'clock that night before out friends' and relatives left, for we had had a regular jubilee that night, but when they were gone and Roy was asleep, she asked me, "Mrs. Slaybaugh, what has happened here today?"

I said, "What do you mean?"

"Something has happened, because this morning when I left this room your husband was dying. He had been dying all night, and now when I come back tonight, I find him perfectly normal. Something has happened."

I said, "I don't know whether you know it or not; we're members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church."

"Yes," she said, "I heard that, but what does that have to do with this?"

"As such we believe in the Bible."

"I believe the Bible, too. But I don't understand," she answered.

I said, "We believe it literally, just as it is written."

"Well, what did you do?"

"We followed the simple instruction given in James 5:14 and 15."

Wednesday morning when she had picked up all of her belongings, Mrs. Schneidau had come over and put her arm around me and said, "Good-by, Mrs. Slaybaugh. I don't suppose I'll ever see you again, but I feel so sorry for you. I don't usually let my cases affect me in any way, but this is different. You've been so brave all the way through. You're going to go through a terrible shock today."

Now she looked at Roy for a long time, then said, "Do you think it is fair to God to keep this a secret? The whole world ought to know what has taken place in this room; for it isn't because of anything the doctors or we nurses have done that your husband is alive."

I said, "Mrs. Schneidau, if the Lord wants this miracle known throughout the world, He'll have His own way of publishing it."

"Mrs. Slaybaugh," Mrs. Schneidau said, "I wish I knew a little more about the doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Do you have any literature I could read?"

"Oh;' I said, "we have so much at home. I'll see that you get something to read as soon as we get home."

"I don't suppose you have a magazine or a story with you, do you?" she asked. "I left my magazine at home."

"No," I said, "I don't have any time to read anything like that any more."

"I still wish I had something to read tonight."

"Let me look in my purse," I suggested. There, neatly folded, I found a Present Truth. "I do have one of our little church papers."

She said, "Thank you, I'll read it."

I watched her that night as she read it from the beginning to the last word. The next morning as she was getting ready to leave she said, "Mrs. Slaybaugh, may I take this little paper home with me? I would like to study it some more. Do you know where I could get more copies like this?"

"I don't know just where," I said. But I knew how. I could ask some of our friends to get some for me. "How many would you like to have?"

"Oh," she said, "I'd like to have ten or even a dozen."

I said, "All alike?"

"Oh, yes, they must be all like this one."

"What are you going to do with them?"

"My mother and family are all good Christians, but they don't know the importance of this," she answered.

"What did I give you?" I asked, wondering.

She handed it back to me. It was "The Seal of God or the Mark of the Beast."

A recent letter from her reads:

"How happy I was to see you today and hear the wonderful response you are having to your testimony of the great healing power of our heavenly Father. Your visit was so short that I didn't get to tell you how thankful I'll always be that I was called for night duty when Roy was so seriously injured, and that I had the privilege of seeing the direct results of anointing and prayer. Then when you told me how you and Roy came into the church, I couldn't help knowing that God worked in a marvelous way 'His wonders to perform.' The pamphlets and reading matter you gave me helped me to understand the Bible truths. It was hard to go against the wishes of all my family when I was baptized, but how happy and thankful I am that I was, for our daughter Jeannie was baptized last June, and Don, her husband, has promised to attend evangelistic services with her starting next Sunday night. My mother and one sister have been baptized, and I have three other sisters who are studying.

"Isn't it wonderful to feel the great love of our heavenly Father and Jesus when we see the ever-widening circle of people brought into the church through what we felt was a great tragedy at the time? May God bless you both and grant that you may bring many more in before Jesus comes.


Jennie Schneidau."




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