By Samantha Nelson – Cody, Wyoming … November 1, 2020, found me sick and in pain everywhere. The pain I credited to having a little too much fun with our youth at church on Sabbath and the congestion to allergies due to our walk Sabbath afternoon. A few days later, Steve fell ill, too. This was no ordinary illness for us. I ordered a COVID-19 test and a few days later I received the results: positive.
We began our mandatory 14 days of quarantine. We ordered supplies online to be delivered. Church members, neighbors and friends dropped off groceries and soups for us. Our families are out of state so we couldn’t see them. We also missed our church families during this time, and we had no idea that time would turn into one-and-a-half months.
On Saturday night, November 14, the day before quarantine was to expire, I took Steve to the emergency department. He was very ill and his fever was 103.6 F and his oxygen levels were in the 80s. It was a frightening time for both of us. Prior to entering the ER, we had arranged for a couple of elders from two of our churches to meet us at the hospital to anoint Steve. The doctor determined Steve had pneumonia as a complication of COVID-19 and sent us home with a prescription for antibiotics.
The next day, Steve told me he felt as though he’d “turned a corner in this illness due to the anointing service.” Although we fully believe the anointing helped and gave us peace, Steve was still quite ill and bedridden and, by Monday, his fever was 103.6 F again with low oxygen. I called the hospital to see if I could bring him in but they refused to admit him because they didn’t have enough beds. As I sat by Steve’s side, he cried, “I feel like I’m dying. There’s a dark shadow over me. I’m dying.” I told him that he was not going to die, and that was Satan’s lie to discourage us, and to believe that God will heal him.
I did not share with him that Satan had also been attacking me with the thought that I might lose my husband. Although I continually rebuked the devil and cried out to God for healing for my husband, there was a tinge of fear that death could become a reality.
Unbeknownst to both of us, however, Satan’s lies were spreading like wildfire. Months ago, I had changed my cell number and had sent the new number to all my contacts. Some either didn’t get the message or forgot to update their contacts with my new number. This is key to the rest of the story as it now unfolds, all behind the scenes and without our knowledge.
Our friends Ardis and Dick Stenbakken heard Steve was sick and sent a message to my phone. The reply they received was, “Steve died.” Ardis told me they went through such anguish and tears when they heard that news. Ardis notified RMC officers who after contacting several people, found out that Steve was still alive. This wasn’t the end though. Ardis, upon finding out the truth, sent a message back to my old number saying, “If you had a Steve who died, I’m very sorry, but if you’re messing with me, God will deal with you!”
I heard from other friends who had experienced the same thing and were very distraught over the fake news of Steve’s death—something Satan was trying to make everyone believe and even, if God would permit, to make it a reality.
God strengthened us and He provided comfort and peace. Thousands of prayers were ascending on our behalf and that gave us courage. Steve was not improving after the first round of antibiotics and we contacted an online doctor who prescribed hydroxychloroquine and a second round of antibiotics with zinc. This helped very little at this stage in Steve’s illness and the hydroxychloroquine actually made him very sick to his stomach. Then God impressed him to call a doctor friend we know. This doctor provided instructions for making antiviral teas and other things that would help.
It’s hard to admit, but it was challenging caring for Steve and taking care of the animals and everything by myself while I was still sick, too. Now, we are both feeling much better, although Steve’s recovery is taking a little longer due to the pneumonia and now very low white blood cell and granulocyte counts.
We praise God for healing and wisdom to know what to do. We thank Him for the many people praying for us.
We’d highly encourage everyone to continue to take precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19. We believe we contracted it while wearing a mask and running errands out of town. At the first sign of illness, see your doctor, start boosting your immune system (even now, before you get sick) and use natural remedies as appropriate.
God’s promise in Isaiah 59:19(b) is true, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” We are so grateful to be beyond the worst of the COVID-19 and, even though there are still some health issues to address, we have confidence that “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) You, too, may face the unknown with peace in your heart, as you trust in your Heavenly Father.
—Samantha Nelson is a pastor’s wife who loves serving alongside her husband Steve. She is also the CEO of The Hope of Survivors, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting victims of clergy sexual abuse and providing educational seminars to clergy of all faiths.