ASHLAND, Ky. (KT) – Matt Shamblin, pastor of Rose Hill Baptist Church in Ashland, was on the way to Florida for a family vacation when he learned one of his deacons was gravely ill.
Dr. David Bush, a spiritual leader within the church who was also a deacon, a mission team leader and the chairman of the Christian school board that the church operates, was in the hospital with a treacherous cancer prognosis.
“When this came, when we initially got the news, we were driving toward Florida and I got physically ill,” Shamblin said. “As a pastor, you love your team and care for them. It really, within just minutes, sent our church into crisis-mode. When something like that happens to someone like Dr. Bush, it actually upends the whole church.”
And Shamblin, who was going to DisneyWorld for vacation, was hundreds of miles away.
“From a pastor’s point of view, the most important thing we could do for him is pray but we could not pray apart from having faith,” he said. “I tried to do everything I could to keep the eyes of the folks of the church on the Lord.”
Even while vacationing in Orlando, in the “Happiest Place on Earth,” Shamblin was keeping in contact with home and the condition of Bush. It was hard being away, but he also knew there was nothing he could physically do to help.
“When this really got to its lowest point, I was out of town,” he said. “So, I used social media to keep scripture in front of the people … to feed that faith, so they could pray.”
The prayers from Rose Hill church and throughout the Ashland community rang out and Bush, a successful cardiologist, began a road from a prognosis of not being able to live much longer to a miraculous recovery that only two weeks ago saw him take a mission trip to Romania.
“Things were reaching their lowest point and we’d already heard doctors say he wasn’t going to make it through the day,” Shamblin said. “We were really at point that the only thing, the most we could do, was to be in prayer for him in an intense way, and God has answered the prayer.”
The victory with prayer has been uplifting for the church, too, he said.
“It has brought the importance of prayer to the forefront again and has made our church believe that God really can do anything,” Shamblin said. “They see it every time we gather.”
Like last Sunday, when Bush was able to do something he hadn’t done in a church service for six months.
“For the first time since his illness, he served the Lord’s Supper with our deacon body to our congregation,” Shamblin said. “The entire congregation shared how this impacted them because it was a testimony service.”
Shamblin said another man from the congregation also had a recovery from an aggressive cancer – further proof that prayer works, he said.
“I tried to remind our folks prayer is not the only thing we could do, but the most you could do,” he said. “You’re asking the God who created all things, who is most powerful, to act, and he does. God has answered truly in extraordinary ways in our church family.”
Shamblin said Bush reminds him of Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke.
“Luke is a physician and an evangelist,” he said. “Luke was vital in helping plant churches. That’s David Bush. His hobbies are reading seminary-level books and helping plant churches in Romania. He is one of my go-to guys when I need somebody to preach for me, a great expositor of the Word.”
He’s also a walking miracle.