Pastor Robert Morris returned to the pulpit of his Texas megachurch this past weekend, nearly two months after he nearly died due to internal bleeding.
Met with a standing ovation from thousands of Gateway Church attendees, Morris made it clear that he was able to recover due to everyone's prayer support, saying, "I'm here because of prayers."
The 56-year-old pastor detailed his recent life-and-death journey, saying he first passed out while he was with his wife in a remote property about 1-1/2 hours away from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in April. He was bleeding internally and when paramedics could not get a blood pressure reading and had difficulty feeling a pulse, a helicopter had to fly him to the hospital.
Just before being flown, one of the first responders told Morris' wife, Debbie, "You might want to get in and talk to him."
"So we both thought it was over," Morris recounted as he got emotional. "So Debbie and I said goodbyes and I recorded a video to our children and our grandchildren."
During that helicopter ride, Morris said he had "an encounter with the Lord."
"I didn't go to Heaven but the Lord's presence filled the helicopter and I felt like I was about to go to Heaven," he explained. He said he had no fear and felt "extremely peaceful" but what surprised him was that he also felt "happy" and "excited."
"I was excited that I was about to see Jesus, that I was going to Heaven. I thought about my family and my church family but ... I just knew God will take care of them."
Still, he felt it wasn't his time yet. He wanted to grow old with his wife and watch his children "fulfill the destiny God has for them" and watch his grandchildren grow.
"If this is it I'm ready to come but I'd like to stay for my family. And I just don't think you're finished with me yet on earth (in terms of ministry work)," Morris recalled telling the Lord.
Morris then heard God tell him: "I'm not."
"And I knew I wasn't dying that day," the pastor said.
By the time he landed at the hospital, he had lost half his blood and doctors found a hematoma the size of a cantaloupe. Surgeons did not find any other bleeding in that first surgery. But with his blood pressure still remaining low, they later found another hematoma had developed and performed a second surgery to treat the other torn artery.
Morris clarified that he was not hospitalized due to complications from a routine hernia surgery he had six days earlier. That surgery was successful, he said.
He offered his congregation three things that God spoke to him about over the past two months. The first point he made was that "spiritual warfare is real."
"I had some medical problems and I had medical help and I thank God for the medical professionals but I also had a spiritual battle and that's where the prayer came in," Morris said.
"There are people that blame everything on the devil but we are not like that. We are grounded in the Word, most of you are very mature believers but I think that we have a tendency to be too logical sometimes and not realize that the enemy's at work and we keep looking for the logical explanation.
"Jesus Himself told us that Satan comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I think he was trying to kill me."
Morris encouraged the congregation to pray daily not just to put their petitions before God but to also pray for a hedge of protection around them and to tell Satan every day, "The Lord rebuke you!"
"Jesus taught us ... to pray deliverance from the evil one ... He taught us to do spiritual warfare every day."
In his second point, Morris stressed: "God answers prayer."
A surgeon told Morris that there was no medical reason why the pastor had two arterial tears and there was no medical reason why he is still alive today.
When Morris was about to be flown to the hospital, he asked his wife to "put this out on social media because I need all the prayers I can get."
And over the next few days, thousands around the world came together to join the 24/7 prayer campaign for the pastor, including believers in India who held a 10-hour prayer meeting, and those in the underground church in China.
"I've had several leaders say to me ... I don't remember in my lifetime a time when the body of Christ came together to pray for someone as much as they came together to pray for me," Morris said. "What I thought about was I think that's fantastic and it saved my life but if we can come together to pray for a dying person, what would happen if we came together to pray for a dying nation."
For his third point, he told the church, "God is in control."
In conjunction with Morris' return, Gateway Church held a blood donation drive. The church will host the drive over the next five weeks at all six of its campuses.
"Someone giving blood is what saved my life," Morris said. "And of course we all know that Jesus gave His blood and saved all our lives."