Across Pacific Magazine

Resurrection day - Harry Pishcura

Carl E. Feather

New Life Assembly of God (Geneva, Ohio) Pastor Harry Pishcura's life ended on November 17, 2004 -- at least long enough to glimpse heaven. But speedy medical response and much prayer sees Pishcura released from hospital within a week. Pishcura once again ministering to people of Geneva, only this time, as a man "who was raised from the dead."

 New Life Assembly of God (Geneva, Ohio) Pastor Harry Pishcura's heart stopped beating about 7:15 a.m. November 17, 2004. He was in bed next to his wife Dawn, who was dozing while Harry prayed with another believer over a telephone headset. Harry & Dawn Pishcura

Dawn says she noticed that her husband made a strange sound then stopped talking. She checked on him, but there was no response. Quickly ending the conversation with the caller, she dialed 9-1-1 and yelled for their daughter Angeline, a licensed practical nurse who lives with them.

Angeline started CPR on her father. Two minutes later, emergency medical technicians arrived and tried to revive Harry. They repeatedly shocked Harry's heart. It took seven attempts to bring him back.

At University Hospitals Health System (UHHS) Geneva Memorial Hospital, Harry's heart was shocked twice more. The doctor did his best to save Harry -- the sole breadwinner for a family of 12.

"But he didn't give Harry a hope or a chance," says Dawn.

Harry was transported to UHHS in Cleveland by helicopter. There, a heart catheterization was performed on the 52-year-old pastor, but no blockages were found. "The arteries were clear," Dawn says. "There was no bleeding in the brain, either."

The only clue was found in his blood chemistry. Harry had low magnesium and potassium levels, essential for maintaining heart health. He'd been on a 40-day fast prior to the November election, and the lack of nutrition from that fast is believed to be a factor in triggering the heart attack.

Dawn says the doctor told her that the survival rate for this type of heart attack is only 5 percent. However, from a medical standpoint, Harry had in his favor the quick action of Angeline and the fast response of the EMT crew. From a supernatural view, he had the advantage of thousands of people all over the world praying for him.

Word spread throughout the community, over telephone lines, radio waves, e-mail - even to the AG National Prayer Center - in the minutes and hours immediately following the heart attack.

During this time, Dawn repeatedly read Psalm 116, that day's Bible reading, to her unconscious husband. Its words seemed to have been written specifically for their situation.

Dawn says another verse kept coming to her mind, one that she'd received from God when she went through some health difficulties of her own five months earlier.

"Women received their dead raised to life again," Hebrews 11:35.

She couldn't understand why that verse had been given to her at the time, but now it made sense. Her husband had literally died, and she was being asked to believe that he would be raised to life again.

The cardiologist told Dawn that the two days following the heart attack would tell the story. "If he didn't come out of it in two days, the chances were that he'd never wake up," she says.  "And if he did, he would be brain damaged."

Dawn played the song "Reign" for her husband through headphones, read Psalm 116 and prayed by his bedside during the days he lay in a coma. When the church gathered to hold a prayer service on November 18, Harry "listened" in through a telephone connection.

It was a telephone call from their youngest sons, John, 4, and Joe, 6, that finally roused Harry from his coma. Frustrated by not getting a response from their comatose father, they hollered "I LOVE YOU" into the phone.

"That's when I started to respond," Harry says.

He had been in a coma three days.

During the next four days, Harry slowly regained his speech and motor control.

Shortly after he came out of the coma, Dawn asked her husband if he had seen heaven during the time he was dead. "He said, 'Yeah, I saw it, and it was beautiful,'" she says.

Harry has since lost that memory, but during a worship service, he says God gave him a brief recollection of his brief visit to eternity. "The purity, the brightness of it, was like a stepping outside on a sunny day with the snow glimmering," he says.

Seven days after the heart attack, Harry was released from the hospital. Tests indicated that there was no damage to the heart.

"It was a real miracle," he says.

On January 23, a combined service (the church holds two Sunday morning services) of more than 200 people gathered at the Geneva Community Center to praise God for answered prayer and welcome their pastor back to the pulpit for a portion of the service.

Although Harry still struggles with his memory -- about three months of it are missing except bits and pieces -- physically, his magnesium level has approached the low end of normal.

"This experience has caused us as a church to realize we will have a defibrillator at our new church," he says.

"Our pastor was legally dead, and God brought him back to life because of the saints praying," says church deacon Joe Joswick.

Joswick says a congregation that witnesses this kind of miracle occurring right before its eyes can't help but be strengthened in its faith.

Harry has a unique testimony that he joyfully shares with others, particularly the youngsters who find his story fascinating in an almost biblical sort of way.

"I tell them if anybody tells you there is no God, you can tell them that there's this guy who died and who was raised from the dead, and you can see him at New Life Assembly of God," Harry says.

Star Beacon edited and reprinted with permission

Note: Harry was a pastor for many years in Hawaii: Hilo and Kaneohe. And his wife is from Hawaii. We've enjoyed great fellowship with them, stayed in their home... Wonderful people. You can't help but love um.  - APM Ed.

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