Hello, I’m Ken Cromeans. Thank you for allowing me this time with you today, and welcome to my Ken Cromeans Ministries!
The story you will read is true and documented. It is the story of my life since February 2000 and continues today. It is an interesting and uplifting story telling how God provides, gives hope, and strength in all times. How He takes away the fears of our unknown and how we can have the assurance of trusting in His holy word that the ending of our earthly life is only the beginning of our eternal life with Him. I hope you enjoy it.
People of faith are familiar with the 23rd Psalm. They find comfort, guidance and hope from its words as did the Psalmist David. But when we look closer at this Psalm, we find that it gives us the courage to face the uncertainties and the unknowns, which we are certain to face as we take this journey in our lives.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures He give me repose;
Beside restful waters He leads me; He refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff that give me courage.
My journey through the valley began in 1998 when my doctor informed me that I had developed type-2 diabetes. Diabetes, heart attacks, and high blood pressure run throughout my family. On February 21, 2000, a Monday like most Mondays, I went to my office at First Baptist Church, Irving, Texas where I was serving as a volunteer associate to pastor, Dr. Randy Rudisell. I shared with the staff that I was feeling a tightness and discomfort in my chest and that I was tired and short of breath. We called the doctor’s office for an appointment. Since the earliest I could be seen was on the following Thursday, we made an appointment for that day.
I carried on with my normal schedule and attended the weekly pastor’s fellowship of the Dallas Baptist Association, which met at Park Place Baptist Church, Dallas. I told Dr. Gary Herring, Executive Director of Dallas Baptist Association, of my discomfort and requested prayer from my fellow pastors.
At the conclusion of our meeting, I made my way up a flight of stairs. When reaching the top of the stairs, I became very weak and disoriented. Two of my fellow ministers noticed me and inquired if I was all right. At that moment, the lights went out! I remember nothing more. I was told that the paramedics had to work with me for over forty-five minutes before taking me to Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
During the week, I had to undergo a battery of tests which revealed that I had suffered a heart attack. I had four blocked arteries and a quadruple heart surgery was scheduled.
While waiting for the appointed date, I was able to visit with other patients who had already gone through their surgeries as well as with those waiting along side of me.
I was dismayed with many whose faith had turned to fear, patients finding fault with God. The hospital doctors and nurses could do little to comfort these people. I mentioned to all who would listen that this was not the time to turn from those who were trying to help. I asked, “Where do you turn when you turn from God and your faith?”
The next stage of my journey through the valley was on March 1, 2000. This was my day! I said good bye to my wife, family and friends and entered my doorway into a changing lifestyle. My surgery was a success! I began my days, months and years of recovery.
I was not able to totally recover to where I had been before my heart attack and surgery. The most, I would say, is that I retained about seventy percent of my strength. For the next six years I was in and out of hospitals with loss of memory, weakness and light-headedness.
On September 2006, while eating at the Subway sandwich store in Colleyville, I received a call from a young lady, who asked if she could visit with me. I invited her to join me for a sandwich. She had been there no more than five minutes when my vision became very blurry. I said, “Angel, call Clara, my wife, and get me to the doctor’s office immediately.” I lost all memory from that point onward.
I am told that many strange events took place while I was in the emergency room. Although I was unconscious, I was able to repeat without exception what everyone was saying. I mimicked the hospital equipment about me.
My wife was told that I had suffered another major stroke and that a blood clod had developed in my brain. Clara was given only a few moments to make a decision that could save my life, or possibly end it. The doctors informed her that they must give me a Tissue Plasminogen Activator (TPA) injection within fifteen minutes for any hope of me coming out of the condition I was facing or else, this was what my life was to be henceforth. I was given the TPA injection, and in less than fifteen minutes, I awoke and wanted to know what had happened and what was going on.
Three weeks later and after much therapy, I was sent home only to learn that my journey had taken yet another turn. I was informed that I had developed three aneurysms in the brain. I was faced with many more tests and with questions about what must be done in an attempt to save my life once more. After a few weeks of testing, the doctor recommended that I see a brain surgeon in Irving, Texas, who, after more testing and consultation, informed me that it would be necessary to undergo open skull surgery because of the location of the aneurysms. He also felt that this procedure would not be successful, and that there was nothing more he could do for me.
After a few more weeks we learned of a new surgical procedure whereby doctors could go through the groin and up into the brain, and that I might be a candidate for it.
Clara and my doctors worked with the insurance company and found that there was a hospital in Dallas, Texas that could do the surgery.
The next step on my journey was to see more doctors and to undergo more tests. More bad news! I was not a candidate for this surgery because of the location of the aneurysms.
I had been informed by all my surgeons that I faced no more than a ten percent chance of surviving the surgery. It was now time for me to make some decisions. Knowing now what I was facing, I had come to a state of reality. Am I ready to take my final step in my journey through that valley? I told my family that if I were given any chance of survival at all, I would go for it.
The surgeons assured Clara and me that they do this all the time and, even though they were recommending me to another surgeon and hospital, that they would do the surgery if I so wished. For the second time within two months, I was in the hospital to undergo another life-threatening surgery.
On a Friday morning, I stood before the Colleyville Lions Club, and thanked them for allowing me the opportunity of being a member of their organization and serving as their chaplain for the past six years. I then shared my heart with them and made this statement, “I’ll not deny my God, or my faith. I am told that all is against my surviving this surgery. And, I’m going to go out in a blaze of glory!” Then on Sunday I made the same statement before my church family. Now, it was time for me to travel alone—with God as my strength. It was time to say good-bye. I assured my family and friends that I was more than ready to take my next step into the future. And my being here today tells you that I made it through the surgery, and that God had again prolonged my life.
The next few months brought more difficulties and challenges for me. I was in and out of the hospital several times. On a follow up visit to see my urologist, I was informed that I now had contracted prostate cancer and that the cancer had gotten outside of the prostate. I found myself on my way to MD Anderson Hospital in Houston for another surgery. Again, my surgery was a success. I am now a cancer survivor.
Through my time of therapy and rehabilitation I landed in yet another hospital–a third time within six months—for the removal of my gallbladder.
Although I’ll never regain the health I once knew, things began to change. I have recovered to where I can do pretty much as I want. This is not to say that I have no limits as to what I would like to do. I have many, but God has given me a ministry unlike I ever imagined. There is not a week that goes by where someone with a life-threatening need doesn’t cross my path.
In the years following my heart surgery, I formed Ken Cromeans Ministries Inc, a 501.c.3 non-profit organization, so that I could reach out to all people facing crises in their lives. I developed Disaster Ministries.org and have served in many states through the US assisting those who find themselves in need of someone to help lead them and coach them in their time of reestablishing their lives, families, homes and businesses.
On my journey through the valley, I have learned that God continues to provide. Let me share with you one special event, which again highlighted God’s providence. That experience still sends goose bumps up my spine. In December, 2008, I was asked to go to Virginia to conduct the funeral for a General’s wife. On my returning flight from Baltimore, Maryland, the week before Christmas, I was seated in the rear of the coach section on an American Airlines flight. You can guess what was about to happen. The lady seated next to me asked if I was feeling alright. I stated that I was not. I took my cell phone and gave her some telephone numbers and asked that, if something were to happen, someone please call my wife. About twenty minutes passed, and I began having difficulty breathing. I felt that I had to get up and move around. I stood up into the isle, and down I went. I shared my medical history with the flight attendants. A gentleman, seated behind me, came forth and stated that he was a cardiologist from John Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore. He was asking me questions about how I felt and what was going on when I mentioned about my strokes and brain surgery. Another gentleman came forth and stated that he was a neurologist. These two doctors cared for me until the plane could be diverted and put down in Louisville, Kentucky.
I was taken to Baylor Hospital in Louisville for the night. The next day I boarded a plane and made it back to Dallas. Upon a follow up visit with my doctor I learned that I had suffered a mild heart attack and that there was no further damage done to my heart.
I’m always asked, “Did you have any near-death experiences?” “Did you see the bright shining light drawing you to it?” To the first, let me tell you … yes I did. I will also tell you that anyone who has been on his or her deathbed will have a Heavenly experience. To the latter, no, I have never seen the bright shining light as others have. In either, case, one does not exempt the other.
I have had many blessed experiences with our Lord God throughout my life. I have had two deathbed experiences with my Lord that at this time will remain between just the two of us.
My journey has not ended. I continue to face difficulties each day, week and month. Thus far in 2009, I have had to spend only 14 days in the hospital. I now feel that this is the way my life will be from now on. As long as God will give me the energy and faculties of mind, I will continue to reach out and minister to all who cross my path that find themselves in need.
And—with God beside me—my journey continues. Ken Cromeans
The following is from Ken Cromeans’ daughter, Cherie.
As you can see, my dad has undergone a journey “through the valley” of multiple medical challenges for several years. What he fails to mention in his story is his desire and commitment to serve others. Throughout much of his journey, he has maintained full-time pastoral positions with local churches and served the community through organizations and volunteer work. Following several minor strokes and other medical complications during the early fall of 2008, it became apparent that he needed to retire. His doctors were adamant that this needed to occur for his personal safety and well-being.
Our family was extremely concerned about dad’s emotional well-being, in light of his upcoming retirement. As a trained therapist, I was aware of the many benefits that come from owning and caring for a pet, and so I brought up the idea of getting him a dog as a Christmas present. My mom mentioned this idea to Dad and—to be honest—he was against it. We loved the idea and began searching for the “perfect fit”. Cooper was an early Christmas gift! Mom and Dad went to see a litter of Malti-Poo puppies and came home with a white fluffy bundle of joy. I will never forget the phone call I received as they were on their way home from picking him up…. Dad was laughing like I hadn’t heard him laugh for years!
For several months after getting Cooper, Dad continued to struggle with his physical health and had to report to numerous doctors. He always brought Cooper with him; doctors and nurses never ceased to comment upon Cooper’s behavior and attentiveness, as well as his calming effect on Dad and other patients. As his health allowed, Dad began his volunteer support of visiting those in need and brought along his faithful companion. Cooper has had a profound effect on my father’s life, and Dad takes advantage of each opportunity to share him with others!
Cooper is an important part of his ministry now. Please allow me to share a few of the ways this precious animal has served others. For those with physical struggles, Cooper has assisted with range of motion and mobility problems. The hurting long to touch him and will endure a bit of pain, for the pleasure of petting or brushing this joyful ball of fur! The act of reaching, stroking, and grasping toys or brushes is truly an act of physical therapy for these individuals. Those who are facing emotional struggles and insecurities about what the future holds, appreciate the sense of companionship and unconditional acceptance that Cooper provides. The simple act of showing and receiving compassion is healing. These examples, in addition to the simple joy seen in smiles that appear on peoples’ faces when they see Dad walking into the doctor offices or down the hospital corridors reveal his contribution in the ministry of serving others.
On a personal level, Cooper has enriched my father’s life. He has maintained a sense of purpose— one that we were fearful Dad would lose in retirement. If anything, he has added to that sense of purpose, as Dad enjoys sharing him with those in need! Cooper has assisted Dad in his physical recovery, as Dad takes him for walks, brushes him and cares for him… his physical activity and stamina have increased. And then, there is laughter and joy. Cooper has been a never ending source of these for my father and the family. Laughter is medicine for the soul. My father’s soul is healthy and full of love for others!
Cherie Cromeans Gopffarth, M.Ed.