My name is Leigh Allen. My husband, Dan, and I are members of Chapel of Praise (Peru Foursquare Church) in Peru, Ind., pastored by David Ross. I grew up in this church, and Dan has attended for about 10 years.
I met Dan when I was 24, and he was nearly 37. I always knew he drank, but never equated his drinking to alcoholism. In my mind, an alcoholic was a person who wasted his whole life drinking the day away. Dan was not that person. He went to work every day, loved his wife and children, and had a growing relationship with God. He was a functioning alcoholic.
In the early morning hours of Sunday, April 3, 2011, the sound of a ringing phone awakened me. The voice on the other end of the line was that of a gentleman from our church. It took me a few moments to compute what he was saying: “Leigh, I’m in the ER with Dan.”
I instantly flashed back to three years prior, when Dan had been hospitalized for three weeks. He was suffering from severe acute pancreatitis, again. Acute pancreatitis can have a high mortality rate. His symptoms were brought on by many years of drinking. I quickly bundled our children, Wesley (4) and Campbell (2), into the van and headed to my parents before joining Dan at the hospital.
Not long after my mom and I arrived at the ER, Dan was transferred and admitted to a hospital in a neighboring town. He was in a great deal of physical pain that was accompanied by the idea of letting down his wife, children, parents and others, too.
When evening came, I drove back home to be with my children. I went to bed that night alone and worried. My less than restful night drew to a close with the phone ringing again. It was a nurse from the hospital telling me that Dan’s vital signs had dropped, and they were moving him to the ICU.
My pastor’s wife joined me in the ICU and prayed over Dan. It wasn’t long before doctors decided my husband needed to be on a ventilator. The tests and x-rays indicated his pancreas was already half dead; doctors were making contact with specialists in Indianapolis, almost two hours away, planning to do surgery.
Soon a little caravan of cars made their way toward Indianapolis, my pastor and his wife in the lead, followed by my mom and me, and Dan’s parents directly behind. It was a gray day outside, and emotions were everywhere.
At the hospital, the pancreatic specialist told me that Dan was not going to be undergoing surgery anytime soon. He was too sick to attempt such a thing.
During the next few days, we waited at the hospital in shifts. On April 6, I was sitting in Dan’s room alone when the ICU doctor came in. He told me they were not sure how much more, if anything, they could do for Dan, and gave him between a zero and 5 percent chance of survival.
The pastor instructed us to pray with Dan. Though I knew Dan loved the Lord and was saved, it was important to be certain. We prayed with him and asked him to blink his eyes if he understood what was being said.
I say with complete confidence that from that moment on, I truly believe Dan’s spiritual man came to life. And Jesus—our great physician and healer—began His good work in Dan’s life.
Soon, the pancreatic specialists told us that Dan’s pancreas was not dead. Our first glimmer of hope! After 17 days, he was moved out of the ICU and into a regular room. Eventually, he began working with the physical therapists and made quick progress. After five weeks, he was released. Though he is now diabetic, he never did undergo pancreatic surgery.
Dan is now living life more fully and has been completely delivered from alcohol addiction. We both believe this miraculous experience will give us opportunities to encourage others who face insurmountable odds as well as speak life to those needing the power of the cross.
Since becoming an official member of the church and being baptized in water (by me!) Dan has become a member of our church’s worship team as well as an usher. I am active in our women’s group and the Christian education board. Together we have also worked with our youth group. We’ve been blessed by our congregation, who walked through this time with us in a variety of ways. Their outpouring of love as spiritual warriors, as well as friends and mentors, has been a treasured gift.
This past October, Dan and I both clearly felt a call into ministry that was confirmed by three individuals at separate times. It is exhilarating knowing the Lord really wants to use you. Of course He always wanted that—He was patiently waiting for us to be willing vessels.
We’re not certain what direction the Father will eventually take us in, but we’re both super excited to see what’s in store. It’s amazing how God can take our circumstances and turn them around!