“Her spine is now exposed, and dissection will begin.”

With that phone call from the operating room, our daughter’s surgery took on new and deeper meaning. A heavy compulsion came upon us to pray in a different way than is “normal” when you have a child in surgery. Somehow, the Lord pressed on our hearts that our daughter’s surgery was “prophetic,” and we needed to pray intensely.

Quick clarification. This surgery was #17 for our children. Surgery is not a “new thing” for us. But we have NEVER felt such a prompting by God to consider a surgery as a prophetic act. That was a FIRST for us. For those with ears to hear… we believe God used Joeli’s physical surgery to lead us into a prayer for the U.S. Church. Knowing what the surgeon was seeking to do to our daughter, Jesus showed us how the same operation needed to take place to the heart and soul of the American Church. (When we say American Church, we include ourselves.)

In this blog, we will share what we believe God had us pray over the American church. Please pray for ears to hear and a heart to understand. It has taken us weeks to ponder this surgery, our words, and what happened during surgery.

Spine Surgery
On 10 November, our daughter endured her 5th and final spinal surgery for congenital scoliosis at UAB – Alabama. The last five years have been a hard road (research, recoveries, extensions, living international, doctors in 3 nations). Thankfully, this final surgery was successful. However, we want to share with you how God moved and sustained her life during the day-long procedure.

As soon as we felt God was asking us to pray into her surgery as a prophetic prayer for the Church, Leslie quickly sent out this text to a few people for accountability and community:

Sense that Joeli is laying on a table as a prophet. A prophet suffering and exposed as an offering for others. Her bones like in Ezekiel 37 are speaking over the church, land, and nations – “expose and make straight,”… her bones are prophesying. Praying this is not a surgery in natural realm, but a holy one where she as a child is breaking through the spiritual realm for Jesus. Pray God’s breath will breathe on her bones and her spirit will prophesy while sleeping – yet exposed and suffering. We are feeling this heavily. I just don’t believe our 2 weeks of prayer claiming Ez. 37 are in vain for the spiritual realm.

To give you more understanding, we had anointed Joeli with oil for two weeks. For two weeks we asked God to either, 1. Heal her miraculously (even praying that her growth rods would fall out while she slept as God straightened her – we know God still moves in supernatural ways!) or 2. Use her suffering to serve Jesus’ purpose in the nations. We surrendered to His choice. Joeli prayed nightly, “God choose whichever way does more for you.” During the two weeks, we often claimed Ezekiel 37 – that God would speak life and breath into her spine for healing.

When we woke up the morning of surgery, we admit we looked to see if rods were in her bed, and we realized God had yet again chosen the path of suffering for our daughter. We entered the hospital that day a bit sad for Joeli and us, but we were determined to serve this suffering servant!

Surgical Parallels
We want to share with you some parallels God brought to our mind as we prayed during the surgery. These are summaries, since some prayers are only for God to hear!

  • Our precious daughter’s spine was now fully exposed and laid open. There is a need for the Church and America to be fully exposed. Laid open before the holiness and righteousness of God.
  • The structure (spinal column) that supports her movement and communication was clearly seen. The demonic Leviathan spirit that twists truth and spins words needs to be uncovered and dealt with in our media, culture, and Church.
  • Old concrete and bad sections of her back will be removed by hammering force (previous rods and concrete were removed). A culture that celebrates sin and Satan’s attempts to deviate the Church is a spiritual battle. Areas where the Church is like the culture must be identified, broken up, and removed!
  • Entrenched structures will be unscrewed and eliminated. Structures and beliefs that lead people astray must be cast off (“Progressive” Christianity, Marxist ideology, Church traditions that limit God’s godly daughters).
  • New, long, straighter “fixed rods” will be put in place. Straight paths of righteousness that line up to God’s character must be firmly installed. Jesus was “full of grace and truth.”
  • Twisting and distortion will be discovered and made right. The Church must honor Truth (Jesus) and quit trying to form Jesus into something we prefer – like an idol made in our image and preference.
  • High places are brought low, valleys are raised up, and crooked places made straight. False teaching that relies on low biblical literacy and approves of unholy living must be corrected!
  • Surgery requires precision, skill, patience, and strength. Faithful Christians must be patient, practiced, and strong in the face of the difficulties and suffering. We must be long-suffering.
  • A 14-inch scar marks Joeli as a reminder of her suffering and her exposed back. Our nation is sick, and scars on the Church will remind us how we turned away from God, but how with repentance, recovery is promised!
  • After the surgical trauma, Joeli will recover in time and thrive. Recovery in the Church will take time as true discipleship takes root, and as we begin to reflect the Holy Spirit. Flourishing will occur, but transformation can be painful!

We prayed for many hours during the surgery. Around 2:00 pm, our spirits felt like the spiritual atmosphere was lightened. Whew! We looked at each other and one of us said, “Well, that was weird.”
Soon after, an anesthesiologist came to update us. We began asking him medical questions, “Was the surgeon able to get much spinal flexibility?… Did the concrete dissect easily?”
The anesthesiologist looked at us, “I was pretty busy during the surgery. Your daughter had an ‘episode’ during surgery.”
We paused, “What? What does that mean?”
“Your daughter’s heart stopped for EIGHT seconds.”

Readers – go ahead and count that out – it’s longer than it seems!

“Unique Event” – Eight Second Heart Stop
Without any reason, our daughter’s heart stopped for eight seconds. The doctor said everyone surrounding her froze and waited…  for eight… long… seconds. Our surgeon later told us his mind was racing, “Cover the exposed back with sterile gauze/ flip her/ begin life saving measures.” But then… without prompting or touching, her heart began to beat normally again. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and continued with surgery. (A friend later said they were asking God “Where were you?” during the time Joeli’s heart stopped. She had a sense of Jesus hovering over the surgeon and then saying, “Okay, Joeli, it’s time to start again.”)

We asked when the “episode” happened, and it was exactly during the 3.5-hour window when we were praying intensely. Later we talked to the surgeon, and he said he has never had that happen before in hundreds of back surgeries. We still do not understand what happened, but we believe something supernatural took place. It has taken us weeks to try and process. When the presence of God moves beyond the normal, something in the spiritual realm has occurred! We are excited to one day learn all that God did!

And, you may know, eight symbolizes “new beginnings” in the Scripture. Crazy….

We are so blessed that our daughter remains with us, that she grew over an inch during the surgery as she was straightened, and she has recovered well. May her life speak God’s desire to expose lies and produce a straight/true path of life and hope within His Bride.

Joeli’s response to hearing about her 8-seconds was, “Oh wow, I died during surgery and God woke me up! That is so cool! But I don’t remember seeing Jesus. Hmmmm… wonder what He was doing with me?”

Words of the Year
Joeli’s “word of the year” last year was STRAIGHT – “I want to walk a straight path for Jesus.” In 2020, she chose LISTEN – “I want to learn to hear God’s voice.” Leslie’s word for this year was ALIGN. That has been our prayer for the Church – that we and the Church would walk a straight path, hear God’s voice, and align our lives to His character. When we do, we reflect Jesus and live as salt and light. Then, we will see a revival and a move of God in our land!

As 2021 begins, reflect and evaluate your life with Jesus. We believe the Spirit of Jesus spoke a message through our Joeli. We believe Jesus confirmed the message through a stopped heart. There needs to be an end to the Church “asleep in the light” of Jesus. Time to awaken and arise! There needs to be a new heartbeat, a new start for the Church, recapturing a reverential awe of God and allowing Him to be the Leader of our lives.

Let’s turn back to God and begin 2021 fresh and new – in love with not just the idea of Jesus with us. Let us live with Jesus as Lord. Let’s get straight and aligned! Then our nation will be healed (2 Chronicles 7:14).

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