Creflo Dollar - Why Did God Let This Happen?
Today you're about to meet a man who has lived his life for God and throughout his life he enjoyed the supernatural provision of miracle after miracle. He met and married the girl of his dreams. They gave birth to a remarkable son and adopted a beautiful daughter. And though his son was born with life-threatening heart troubles, by the grace of God, every surgery has been life-saving; miracles, each and every one. Until one day, after miraculously recovering from an operation that doctors believed had no chance of survival, the unthinkable happened. His son died senselessly ten days later from a non-related blood clot to his brain. Our guest today who doesn't live a single day without mourning for his dead son, is plagued with the question, "Why"? Why did God let this happen? I'd like you to join us as we help answer this question. I'm Creflo Dollar and this is "Your World".
Creflo: Ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome David Wilson to "Your World" today.
Creflo: Yes, yes, hello, David.
David Wilson: Hello, Creflo.
Creflo: Good to meet you, sir. Thank you for coming.
David: You're very welcome.
Creflo: I have been looking forward to hearing your story. Let's start off kind of at the beginning. You were married at a young age, around 22?
David: I was.
Creflo: And you came from Great Britain to America. Let's start there. What was the motivation behind that?
David: Football, soccer. So originally, I was playing soccer in Israel, met an American who said, "If you wanna come and play soccer in the States, let me know". So I got in contact with him and he said, "I've got a scholarship for you at Bryan College, Christian College, in Tennessee". And came out and played four years of soccer there but my wife and I had met already. We got engaged and so she came out in my sophomore year.
Creflo: Oh wow. So your parents were pastors?
David: Salvation Army ministers, yes. So we moved every three or four years across England as most of the Salvation Army pastors do. So it was a great way of meeting new people. The accent got destroyed a little bit from moving from location to location but, yeah, it was a great life.
Creflo: So being married at a young age, how long was it after the marriage that you guys decided to start a family?
David: We moved to Atlanta in 1990 and I was working for the Salvation Army on their Olympic programs and we decided, I mean, we would, just really decided we wanted to move and enjoy being married for a while so we worked for the church, coordinated the church outreach here for the Olympics in '96, then moved to Sydney. Was asked to come and coordinate the outreach down in Sydney, down there. So we moved, worked with all big churches, denomination. Worked very closely with Hillsong down there. And then we decided, okay, time to start a family. We're getting old at that point. We were 36. Not too old, I guess, but anyway, we decided. And Kath was serving as a youth pastor at the church and a young lady came to us or came to the church for an abortion and she wanted some counseling. And so she was from Fiji and it was about a four-hour flight from Sydney to Fiji. And Kath said, "Look, let's talk about it". She counseled her. Eventually, she said, "Well, if you adopt the child, I won't have the abortion". So Kath and I, we're thinking, "Okay, well, that's a little bit strange but let's go along with it anyway". And six months she lived with us and then she wanted to have the baby in Fiji so we went to Fiji to have the birth of the child and, long story short, went to the hospital. Baby was stillborn. So we end up doing the funeral for the child that we thought we were actually going to adopt. And that was just an experience that we were never even thinking of at that point. But a long story short, we got connected with the folks that were doing the prayer breakfast there and they said to us, "Look, if you want to adopt a child, you can just go to any orphanage, choose a child, and we'll make sure it happens".
Creflo: Was that a little unusual or was it...
David: Oh, it was very unusual. Yeah, it was just through the church connections that that happened. And so what happened was that Kath then worked for four months in Fiji to become a resident and a child was in the hospital, two months old. And we'd obviously been praying and very conscious of, you know, going through the right procedures for the adoption and the rest of it, and Kath had been given this Scripture, "Grace be unto you". So we named her Olivia Grace and she was our first child at that point. The adoption went through. We took her home to Sydney. I continued to work on the Games. That was about a year before the games and during the visits to Fiji, Kath got pregnant with Harrison.
Creflo: Oh, so at the same time the adoption process was going on, she's pregnant?
David: Correct. Yeah, very same time. So we found out in the February and Harrison was, we found that Kath was pregnant in the January. So the timing was fantastic. We took Olivia back. Harrison was due during the actual Paralympic Games. And I was working on the Olympics and the Paralympics. And Kath went in for a regular visit for check-up and they couldn't find a heartbeat or the heartbeat was irregular. So they said, "Okay, we need to pull the child today, Caesarean section". But he had a what they call truncus arteriosus which he was missing an artery and he had a hole in his heart. So when he came out, he was, like, he'd run a marathon, panting very heavily. And we could see this was abnormal, even though they're trying to calm us down and our fears because we're thinking exactly the same what happened to, you know, the first child in Fiji. And, you know, miraculously enough, they do a heart operation in six weeks on Harrison and he came through that perfectly, no problems at all. And then we grew up together, really, Olivia and Harrison, as brother and sister in Sydney. And then we went off to Salt Lake City to coordinate the Olympics there and then to Athens and then to Beijing and we came back to Atlanta and Harrison had to have a second heart operation because he had outgrown the conduit. They put a, what they call a pig valve in his heart. So he outgrew that and had the operation here. Complete success. Now we had a limousine pick up Harrison at 6 o'clock in the morning, what took him to the hospital, made an experience that this was not gonna be life-threatening for, it could be. But we were trying to make the most of him and, again, he was six. He was afraid. We were petrified, you know, if you're putting your son in another doctor's hands and you're getting the update every hour as to how the operation is going. But after five or six hours, operation went fine. He was out of hospital within five days and recovered fantastically.
Creflo: So really, two good miracles, right?
David: It really was.
Creflo: So after that operation, Harrison begins to grow up, enjoy life. I'm sure you guys bonded. Every day was just a wonderful time and then he gets up in age. How old was he when we look at this?
David: He was 15. I mean, we knew that was coming, around the ten years after he had the last operation he was gonna again outgrow that conduit that was in there. And so we knew that operation was coming up. And Harrison, really not shortness of breath but you could tell he was starting to feel the fact that his heart was working harder to push it around. I mean, he lived an active life. He was great at soccer and he'd been playing that for three or four years. He, like most youngsters, deferred to Xbox and became brilliant at Xbox, outdoing me. Acting, did a lot of acting with his sister as well. And she's still carrying that on but just really enjoyed life. Then we were in London. We were with our family. We hadn't been there for a while so we were really enjoying it. So we came back to the States and we knew he had to have the operation. During the operation, which was supposed to be about, again, six to eight hours, we were expecting him to be out in a week. We were told that he would be out in a week, and it went badly wrong. And there was massive bleeding. Rather than, you know, the updates we got every hour, they stopped at hour eight and then there was nothing for three hours. And then they came out and basically said, "Look, Harrison's in a serious condition. He's got massive bleeding". And at that point, you just think your worst-case scenario has come true. I mean, Kath and we had lots of friends there at the hospital. I just had to leave. I went to the bathroom and vomited, just couldn't deal with that at all. Came back and, you know, giving you the long story short, he had to have three other operations to keep him alive at that point. They were somewhat successful. In total, he was in the hospital for 51 days and just became a torture. I mean, mentally, you're thinking the worst but from a faith perspective, you're wanting, you're standing firm, you're trusting in what the Lord says. Things go through your mind, I mean, constantly I'm reading Scriptures, Abraham and Isaac, offering your son up to the Lord, you know, why are we not seeing an answer to this? And that continued day in, day out, day in, day out.
Creflo: I can't even imagine the emotional pressure and the stress and so 51 days, what was the result of all of the operations?
David: Well, it was the 40th day. It's significant. And we're thinking, a doctor comes to us and says, "Okay, something's gone wrong. We need to do a life-threatening". This is his words. "This is a hail Mary operation. We don't know whether he's gonna come through this or not. And what do you wanna do"? And obviously, we're saying, "Do whatever you need to do". And they got specialists in and they had five or six surgeons working on him, ten doctors from all over the place working on him. And they had to put this butterfly valve through a catheter because they couldn't take him off the life support and they couldn't crack his chest again to feed this thing in to try and sit in this mitral valve. And so we're waiting five or six hours in this operation, and finally the surgeon comes up and he says, "Dave, we tried this three times," and you're thinking, immediately, your emotions just sink. And he said, "An amazing thing happened. We were able to stick the third conduit into that valve to plug it up. And we think he's gonna be okay". And then for those ten days on then, you saw him improve. And his lungs got better and you're thinking, "Thank you, Lord. We're seeing victory". On the Friday I remember distinctly that the doctors had said, "Okay, it's the weekend. His lungs are good enough. We're gonna take him off the bypass machine on Monday". Saturday morning, he had a blood clot and every emotion, every worst-case scenario, you're just thinking, "Why is this now happening after we've seen so much success over these last ten days is this happening"? And it was something you just don't, it's surreal. You just go through the motions at that point and it was the most horrendous thing, you know. We had a Catholic priest in there, giving the last rites. We'd had numerous charismatic pastors, our denominational pastors, in there praying with him and you're thinking, "What did we do wrong? You know, why did this happen"? We ask that question still. You know, you reflect of what the Lord gave you and the 15 years that we had him, but you ask that. Horatio Stafford and "It is Well with My Soul". That song, you know, when he lost his four daughters at sea and he lost his child in the Chicago fire and you're thinking, "How can you write a song like that and yet I don't have that peace"? And you still fight with that. I'd never really cried, apart from when our daughter in Fiji that we buried her, but couldn't stop crying. Went to counseling with Kath and Olivia, together as a family, individually, to really figure out, "Lord, what is your plan in this"? You're angry. You're angry at everyone. You're angry certainly at God that he didn't, as the angel came to Abraham and said, "Okay, no, here's a lamb instead of your son". Just tough to get your head around as to why this happened to us.
Creflo: You know what? While you were talking today, and I can think of several things that I still don't know why, and they are extremely painful, and I don't know if I've ever gotten the why and I had to come to a point in my life where I can be okay with God not giving the why. I won't mention specifically what it is, it's extremely painful, extremely hurtful, and you know, the why, when it happened to me, when it came up, Dave, I was in a dark place. I was ready to leave God. In fact, I said to him, you know, "How in the world you would allow this to happen to a eight-year-old boy"? And, you know, I even went so far as to say, "Take my life and let him live," and did all that. And he didn't and I spent time in a closed room for about three days trying to decide whether or not I wanted to continue on with this God who would do this. And, of course, you know, I couldn't find anybody else to blame. It was only two people I could blame or at least one, me, and God. I mean, it was just easier to blame me and to blame God. Man, I wasn't in a good space and I'm just thinking I can't serve. I can't serve this God. So I'm just gonna be an atheist and just kind of see if there's another avenue I could go down. As I say these things, how close were you to having to deal with some of those same thoughts?
David: Absolutely. Been there, done that. And I mean, you're constantly thinking can I really go through with this? Can I really put this façade on of being a Christian man and not really believe what I'm saying? And the only hope that I hang on to and at that time in the dark period that I was in, is the only way I've got to seeing my son again is that I have to trust you. Does that make sense?
Creflo: Oh, I'm right there with you.
David: And I'm like, if I don't hold on to that thread, I've got no chance of seeing my son again. And in the darkest point, that was the only thing I was holding on to.
Creflo: Yeah, I may not be quite satisfied with the why. You may not be. Those of you who are watching the program, you guys may not be. But what I am satisfied with is the God who did and has done so much for me. The God that gave me stuff I know I didn't earn and know I didn't deserve and he kept doing this. The God that allowed me those eight years and the God that disagreed with me when I said, you know, trade my life for his and the things that I know and understand now. Boy, I gotta hold on to what I know. And what I don't know, I'll let him have that. Until he's ready to give me some more of what I don't know, but what I do know, you're not taking that from me and I'm gonna keep what I do know. I'm gonna hang on to what I do know and, Satan, I'm coming after you with everything that I have. I think sometimes, people, and they mean well. They try to give, well, with me. It may be a little different with you. They tried to give me the, you know, this, like, exact thing and, you know, this absolute of why this took place. And I was never satisfied with an absolute. You'd come, bring me an absolute and I'd come with another question. You come bring me, "Well, this is absolutely why this happened," and I mean, even when some people, you know, out of the goodness of their heart and then I would always come with something else. It had to be a revelation from God and it had to be a peace on the inside of me that could satisfy me and, yet, one day I'm gonna be in heaven and, you know, I had a crazy experience when I had a car wreck 18 years ago, way after this incident happened, and, you know, I had my eyes opened. I know it sounds a little strange, what I'm about to say, but I'm telling myself, Dave, I'm, like, "Let me keep my eyes open so I can see how this works," 'cause I'm thinking, "I'm gonna die today. This is crazy". And my eyes were open but I saw angels go past my eyes. And I can describe them to the day like it happened yesterday. And when I saw those angels go by, my eyes were still open but now I'm not seeing what's in front of me. I'm now seeing what was not in front of me physically and I saw a line of people but they were out of focus and those people were coming towards me and I was coming towards those people. And the closer we got, it appeared like they began to come into focus. And it felt like I almost began to recognize a couple of 'em and then in the middle of me and those people who were out of focus, the voice of God came and it was like a sonic voice. You can almost see the energy of it and it said, "No, too much unfinished business". And everything went in reverse and I'm back in the car and I'm upside down, seeing what and I'm thinking, you know, at the time I'm working, like, what else am I gonna do? And I'm, like, "Too much unfinished business? What do you mean 'too much unfinished business'"? That day helped to increase my hope that I'm not just reading nice little Scriptures. Heaven's real, angels are real. God is real and I am going to see again those loved ones. So that's how I would encourage you. Your story in itself, the fact that you continue to work for the Lord and work for Jesus and trust him in this day with that, that's pretty big. So I want you really to have the last word. What would you say to people who have experienced something similar to what I explained in my life and what you've explained to us in your life? What could you say to them, having gone through it?
David: Kath and I and Olivia have really held on to each other during this time. And we don't know why but we're trusting in the Lord and ever since then we have seen tremendous blessings in our life despite the fact that we've lost our son. The program that we'd worked on, hosting athletes' family members during the Olympics and we've hosted, you know, 3000 athletes' family members in church people's homes, we've now introduced a new program called "Faith Stay," which is just like an Airbnb. People know Christ was born in an Airbnb and we just feel that that's a way of being able to open up Christian homes to host people and be a hospitality program and so that program developed 18 months ago. It's got 4000 nights already, and we're encouraging churches to do it because it's a great way of people being able to tithe back to the church. So that has been a tremendous blessing that we've just seen the Lord in the last two years really say, "Okay, you're standing on my promise. I'm gonna be there for you".
Creflo: Yeah, that's good. That's really good. Did you guys get a lot out of our guest today? I did. I did. Really, I felt like maybe some stuff that was in my heart still kind of got a little treatment today. And I really appreciate it. I wish you well. I pray that when you have that enlightenment from heaven, that becomes so extremely satisfying that you come back and share it with us.
David: Thank you.
Creflo: So that others can be blessed. I appreciate you, Dave. Thank you so much.
David: Take care.
Creflo: Thank you so much.
Creflo: Popular culture has resigned itself to a "There's nothing you can do about it" attitude towards sickness, disease, and death. And looking around us, it shows. We see people meekly accepting the death of a child or the debilitating loved ones, whether physical or mental. But God never intended humans to suffer like this. And when we study the Bible we see promises after promises of healing and wholeness and when we accept by faith God's Word we can experience this healing firsthand.