It felt like the end of the road for Gabe. In 2006, after suffering three back-to-back strokes, the doctors didn't believe that he would walk again, and he found himself totally dependent on others to do the simplest tasks in life. Gabe eventually lost his job and his ability to coach girls high school softball, a life-long passion. "I was angry and I remember asking 'why me'?'" recalled Gabe as he looked back at that dark time in his life. Unable to walk, talk and care for himself, Gabe was ready to give up.
However, people in Gabe's life were not ready to give up on him. One such person was Gabe's then six-year-old granddaughter Angela. He recalls a time while still in the hospital that Angela drew a picture of a nurse taking care of a patient. She pointed out that the patient was "Papa" and next to the nurse it read "Me, when I grow up." These gestures continually touched Gabe and gave him a reason to keep trying to get better.
One day, Gabe remembers being particularly discouraged with his situation when he snapped at Angela. Suddenly Angela stretched her arms out on each side of her body and said "Papa, did you know that Christ died for you on the cross?" The statement struck Gabe like a bolt of lightening. "Take me to church," he replied.
This was huge. You see, while Gabe's daughter and granddaughter were active members of New Hope Windward (NHW), the closest Gabe ever came to church was the curbside while dropping them off on Sunday morning. Even as he made that first visit to church, he remembers still feeling something holding him back as he made his way from the car to the front door. But there was Yvonne, a warm-hearted volunteer greeter. "I remember Yvonne greeted me and made me feel so welcome. I thought to myself, I want to be like that lady!"
Thus began Gabe's walk with Jesus. The encouragement from those around him continued to impact him, including from his daughter Kimberly, a children's church volunteer at NHW, and Angela. After being water baptized, Gabe remembers Angela came up to him and said, "Papa, you have a clean heart now!" According to Gabe, people continually told him to just "Trust God."
Through it all, Gabe has been surrounded by the love of God, his family & friends. "At first my wife had to do everything for me and she never complained. My daughter never gave up trying to get me to come to church for so many years -- God knows she tried. Angela, she's been my inspiration." Gabe now believes all these moments of encouragement contributed to his stunning health improvements.
Today, Gabe is walking, talking and has even returned to coaching girls softball -- something he thought he would never be able to do again. He also serves as a greeter on Sunday mornings at New Hope Windward, fulfilling his desire to be "just like that lady" who greeted him at the door not so long ago. His recovery has been so impressive that Gabe has been asked to meet with other patients going through similar experiences at the rehabilitation hospital. "I went from a wheelchair, to a walker, to a cane, to coaching softball again," said Gabe. "Now, I can show other patients that there is still hope." Why Gabe, now you are being a lot like Jesus.
Sherrie is a believer in Jesus Christ, a wife, a mother and a freelance writer. She resides with her family on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, where she was born and raised.