- Associated Press - Friday, August 5, 2016

SILVIS, Ill. (AP) - Doctors told him he was going to die. God had other plans.

The Rev. Fritz Siddall, pastor of Crossroads Christian Center Assembly of God, in East Moline, is sharing his defiance of the prognosis.

On Jan. 19, he underwent surgery to remove a softball-sized tumor in his brain, “and I have just started speaking about it,” Rev. Siddall said.

About 35 people gathered on a recent July weekend in his living room to hear his testimony.

“God is using him in amazing ways every time he shares his story,” parishioner Danine Glascock said.

“We are a Pentecostal church, and believe in healing,” Rev. Siddall said. “We’ve seen God do so much; it’s amazing.”

Rev. Siddall’s son, Jared, also survived and recovered from an automobile accident in which he was thrown through his car’s sunroof.

“Everyone thought he was going to die as well,” Rev. Siddall said. “It’s a miracle he survived.”

On Easter Sunday, the father and son surprised parishioners by returning to Crossroads church for the first time since their separate incidents.

Rev. Siddall said he started experiencing unexpected physical pain and problems that he thought were caused by diabetes. His blood sugar levels constantly hovered between 300 and 400, he said.

“My eyes got so bad, I couldn’t read the Scriptures in church any longer,” he said. Mrs. Glascock took over reading passages to the congregation, Rev. Siddall said.

Doctors later discovered Rev. Siddall was blind in one eye. They also sent him to a heart surgeon and he received eight stents in his heart during two to three weeks after declining the suggestion of open-heart surgery.

Yet, after getting the stents placed in his heart, he still didn’t get any better. So he went to more doctors and specialists until a magnetic resonance imaging — MRI — scan revealed the tumor.

Rev. Siddall said a doctor pulled him and his wife, Janet, aside to say it was the biggest tumor he had ever seen — and that he couldn’t do anything about it. So Rev. Siddall was transferred to a Peoria hospital.

A doctor there showed the Siddalls a picture of the tumor in the middle of Rev. Siddall’s forehead. It actually had pushed his brain to a different location, Rev. Siddall said, and removed his senses of smell and taste.

Rev. Siddall said he knew then what a dire problem he was facing. Prognoses included predictions he soon would be totally blind and likely would die within three to four weeks. If he chose surgery, he probably would not survive; if he did survive, he probably would be blind and crippled, doctors said.

Rev. Siddall chose to have the surgery. Just before it occurred, Rev. Siddall said, the surgeon asked if the pastor minded praying with him.

“I had never heard such a thing from a surgeon before,” Rev. Siddall said. “And as a pastor, I’ve been bedside with people having surgeries.

“What happened next was, that the surgeon did begin to pray,” Rev. Siddall said. “And at that moment, I felt the presence of God giving me peace. I felt the presence of God and then had no fear left in me.

“I knew I was going to die, but I was OK with that because I knew whichever way I was going to go, I saw myself with Christ,” he said. “If I lived, I would be in Christ, and if I died, I would be in Christ.”

Rev. Siddall said he heard the Lord remind him neither man nor Satan determines times of death. It’s determined by the “giver and taker” of life, Our Lord,” Rev. Siddall said.

“I knew it was time to shut up,” he said.

Rev. Siddall said medical personnel had told him the operation would likely take 11 to 12 hours, but his stent-enforced heart may only hold out for about four or five.

“But I didn’t die,” Rev. Siddall said. “I had so many other people around the world praying for me.

“After surgery, the first thing I wanted to know was when I could go home,” he said. “I didn’t think about God or prayer; I just asked about going home.”

He said nurses told him he couldn’t be released until he could walk at least 50 feet. It took him about three days to go that far.

Rev. Siddall said once he was home — with a lot of help from his wife, sons and a brother — he drew solace thinking “at least now I will die in my own home.”

He said his recovery at times was rocky. Along with his son’s car accident, he had to handle bouts with pneumonia and a severe seizure. But he said he maintained his sense of humor, a trait still evident when he discusses his $159,000 medical bill.

“What do you get for that much money?” he asked. “You get a $2 robe. And I hated the idea of dying in such a cheap robe.”

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Source: Quad Cities Online, http://bit.ly/2a3xomF

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Information from: The Dispatch, http://www.qconline.com

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