Testimony Tuesday: Mary McIlvaine

This testimony is going to leave you humbled and amazed.  I’ve heard Mary give her testimony a couple of times, including once this afternoon.  Mary and her daughter Shannon are two of the reasons I became involved in Community Bible Study.  And I am so grateful that God used Mary and Shannon to draw me in, because CBS has been a huge blessing in my life and in the life of my whole family!


For the first thirty years of my life, I was happily going my own way: busy wife and mother — self-sufficient person with few serious thoughts toward the real meaning of life.  It took a tragedy in my family to wake me up.

My heart was broken and my pleasant world shattered one night when my high school age brother took my five-week-old baby daughter from me and, before my eyes, battered her nearly to death.  He was in my home because I was trying to help him recover from the heavy use of drugs.  Frustration at his inability to cope had overwhelmed him and he grabbed from my arms my most precious possession.  With all the hatred of Satan he threw her into the walls and floor, beating her in ways that cannot be described.

My husband and I grappled with him, trying to stop him, trying to get hold of the baby, but we were not able to do so.  My husband ran to the garage to get a tool to use as a weapon to subdue my crazed brother.  When he arrived back on this scene of terror, in his panic, he only added to the tragedy.  We were struggling in the unlit dining room between the table and the wall.  The confusion was great and the visibility low.  Mistaking me for my brother, my husband hit me four times in the head with the blunt end of an axe.  Only God’s intervention can explain the fact that Jim was finally able to push my brother out of the house.

Alone in the emergency room, I was desperately trying to grasp what had happened — needing someone to comfort me.  How could this have come about?  How could God have let this happen to me…to my five-week-old baby, Rebecca?  If only…what if…WHY, GOD??!  Words cannot describe the agony of my thoughts at that moment.  My feeling toward my brother was uncontrollable hatred.  Anger, fear, self-pity, bitterness took turns gripping my soul.  As my husband answered police interrogations and frantically ran between Rebecca in Pediatric Intensive Care and me in the emergency room, I was certain my baby was dead.  I thought I might die, and I didn’t care.

News of something like this travels fast.  A lot of people were alarmed, most were sympathetic, but a few were moved to prayer for us.  Without my knowing it at the time, a friend contacted a prayer chain which was activated for Rebecca and myself.  At a time when I could not pray, God raised up intercessors and the miracle began to happen.

After two weeks in Intensive Care, the Lord had healed Rebecca enough to go home with her daddy and me.  She had endured three subdural taps to relieve the blood fluid from her brain, one spinal tap, grand-mal and petit-mal seizures and brain damage.  Her head was the size of an adult’s, and her comatose state had kept me in fear of her inevitable death.

The wonderful news is that God worked the impossible and healed her.  There is no residual damage, thanks to my sweet Lord.  [Today Rebecca is the healthy mother of two]

The miracle of my new life did not happen as quickly.  Six months after this nightmare, I broke down from the strain of it all.  I still had not met Jesus as my Lord, still was was looking for answers, still had to come to the knowledge of the fullness of life.  I went into chronic depression that lasted over eighteen months.  My pride was proving to be a hard shell for the Lord to crack.

The process leading to my rebirth was one of personal suffering and mental agony.  Psychiatry and drugs were not working for me; they produced no relief.  When a friend asked me if I wanted to go to Bible study with her as a guest and told me that “Jesus Christ is the best psychiatrist,” I thought: “Why not?  What was there to lose?”

What I found at CBS was a caring group of women, and a peaceful, loving environment — a place to rest once a week.  However, the Holy Spirit was working within me.  For the first time in my life, I began to study God’s Word as we worked our way through the Gospel of John.  As I let His Word get into me, the Lord began to renew my mind and replace the despair of my soul with the life that comes from His Spirit.  I gave my life to Jesus Christ, and I have been trusting Him to be my Lord ever since.  My days now overflow with love and joy.

Today that same brother is a disciple of Jesus!  He drew great strength from the forgiveness for himself from God.  My wonderful husband has also discovered the peace that passes understanding through having been called by God to new life in Christ.

Praise the Lord, He never changes, but thank God we can and do!!!

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