Couple’s tragedy becomes ministry opportunity as they share miracle

Couple’s tragedy becomes ministry opportunity as they share miracle

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

Becky Guinn wasn’t expecting any problems the day she went in for heart surgery in December 2002. 

She was getting a new prosthetic valve put in — a procedure she had gone through before without a hitch.

“I was a high school art teacher in Valley and I was planning to have the surgery over Christmas … and be back at school in January,” she said.

She and her husband, David, could never have guessed the path that awaited them.

 “She never woke up from that surgery — she went into an immediate coma,” David said.

She flatlined twice. Her circulation began to decline and as the blood flow to her hands and feet decreased they shriveled and hardened. As the days stretched on her organs began to fail too.

“They gave us a 5% chance of her living,” David said. “And every time we saw a doctor the news seemed to get worse.”

He, along with their two daughters, were told they had to make some hard decisions.

Reading promises

“We held a family meeting in the ICU and sang praise songs over her and read promises from Scripture,” David said. 

“Becky came out of the coma that night mouthing the words to ‘We’re Standing on Holy Ground’ along with my daughter.”

It was a miracle, he said — but Becky still had a long way to go. They learned soon that she would need to have both hands and feet amputated. Becky said it was at that point David spoke the words that anchored them both for the season to come.

“He said, ‘We’ve got to either believe what we’ve been teaching all these years or just give up,’” Becky said. “There was no choice.”

Live it out

For two decades her husband had been in active church ministry serving churches in Texas as well as serving on staff at two churches in Birmingham — Dawson Memorial Baptist and Southside Baptist. He also had started a parachurch organization of international chaplains who traveled overseas to carry out Olympics outreach and other evangelistic ministry.

Through the years Becky had been right beside him serving too. And now it was time to live out what they’d believed, shared and taught.

“We clung to hope and we chose joy,” she said.

And because of that David said the nurses in the hospital loved coming to their room to hang out and be prayed for. 

“They called our room ‘the happy room,’” he said. And right there from that room, the Guinns started setting goals.

David Guinn immediately began to research and show his wife some of the things new prosthetic technology could do. They set goals to keep her going — to use a power chair, to go back to school in August and to create art again.

The first time Becky used her chair, David took her to Target.

“Her face lit up,” David said. “She was zipping around the aisles. I didn’t see her for a full five minutes.”

Becky learned to walk, to drive and to type using the eraser end of a pencil taped to a prosthetic hook that she used for a hand. She finished her master’s thesis that way the summer after her amputation. Then that August she returned to school and was able to continue teaching.

“Those of us who are believers, we know we’ve got God’s help and ingenuity and other people who love us and pray for us,” Becky said. “I got to walk in a special place in the body of Christ and see how the parts of the body move together and support one another.”

She and David also have seen the provision of God in a way they weren’t expecting. Around the time her medical crisis happened he had been in the midst of a lot of ministry travel but they had also started another project — building a retreat center. Now that center is where David trains volunteer teams and Becky leads women’s conferences. David gets choked up when he thinks about it.

“This situation with Becky’s health has changed our whole lives, but God knew that would happen … and He knew we would need this facility,” he said. 

Their ministry is different and so is their day-to-day life. People are fascinated with Becky’s prosthetic hands and feet and when they ask she’s able to tell them about how God has worked miracles in her life.

New opportunities

“It’s created a lot of opportunities to share with others,” she said.

Chuck Anderson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Shawmut, in Valley, said the Guinns — who are members of his church — have been on a “miracle journey of faith and trust in Jesus Christ.”

“We witness every day in their lives the sovereign love of God at work,” Anderson said. “What may at first have been seen as harm, God redeemed and has transformed countless lives for good through David and Becky’s creative, joyful, faithful service for Jesus Christ.”