A Dallas-area pastor is recounting his miraculous healing following a diagnosis of cerebral malaria, having contracted the deadly condition from exposure to mosquitoes during a mission trip in Nigeria.
Steve Lawson, a pastor based in Greenville, Texas — approximately 50 miles from Dallas — fell ill in late May after having wrapped up a trip to West Africa.
Lawson met his wife of 29 years, Karen, in Siberia for the next leg of his overseas trip — he trains pastors in remote parts of the world — and she could soon tell something was wrong, they told local ABC News affiliate WFAA in a report on Thursday.
"I tried to wake him up, but he wouldn't wake up. And he didn't know me, like his eyes were open but he didn't recognize me. He was saying words that didn't mean anything," Karen Lawson recounted.
The pastor fell into a coma and physicians there said he had cerebral malaria, likely contracted from a mosquito bite in West Africa. He stayed in a coma for 10 days.
Due to lack of treatment available, Lawson was medevacked to Europe for medical care.
"When Karen said we were in Paris, I was like, 'What are we doing in Paris?' I didn't realize I'd lost almost two weeks," Steve said.
All the while, the Lawson's were receiving a tremendous outpouring of support and prayers through social media.
Christian band MercyMe began posting on their Facebook page starting on May 22, asking their more than 1.9 million fans and followers to pray for Lawson. Their initial post received thousands of reactions and hundreds of shares.
Lawson's daughter, Madison, shared an update four days later on her Facebook page, describing the neurological and kidney failure and fevers he was experiencing at the time. By May 29 Lawson was waking up, squeezing his family members' hands in recognition of their presence, and his organ functions had improved significantly.
Today, he's back home Texas and is expected to make a complete recovery.
"For the longest time I was like, why? You know I'm nobody. I live in small town Texas and why would people get so excited about this and so passionate about it? But something struck a nerve, and I am so glad it did," Lawson said.
His bout with a life-threatening illness on the mission field hasn't deterred the pastor from going overseas.
"It motivates me even more, because my thought is, if I was spared this, there's a reason for this. There is a purpose behind it. I'm already thinking about my next trip," he said.