When a crisis hits a family, Gateway is there.
Pastor Dustin Sample was about to take his lunch break when he received a troubling phone call. Hope DeHart, a relative of Gateway member Kelley Purselley, was in the hospital after suffering a gunshot to the head. Hope—a young girl, just 18—had already spent some time struggling with addiction and got mixed up with the wrong people who shot her in a Fort Worth motel. (The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the motive is still unknown.) Thinking she was dead, the shooter and an accomplice wrapped her body in a hotel comforter and left her at the end of a dead-end street behind a North Fort Worth QuickTrip around 5:00 am on August 3.
A truck driver who had gotten an unusually late start to his day stopped by the store for a cup of coffee and in the early morning light happened to catch a glimpse of Hope’s body. The truck driver called 911, and incredibly there was already an ambulance waiting right there at the convenience store for the next call. The medics quickly found Hope and confirmed she had a pulse, so they rushed her to the hospital.
Doctors gave Hope’s mother and father a grim outlook. He didn’t think she would survive, and he cautioned that if she did, she would never regain brain activity.
Within hours, Hope’s Aunt Kelley called Gateway’s Relational Care ministry. That’s when Dustin ditched his lunch plans and headed straight to the hospital. This was a unique situation for Dustin, who was the pastor-on-call that week—an assignment given to every Gateway pastor for one week each year. This means pastors are ready and available to make hospital visits, conduct funerals, and show the love of Christ to people who are going through hard times, frequently the most difficult times of their lives.
When he got to the hospital’s waiting room, he was met with about 20 family members who didn’t seem optimistic and bristled at the idea of a group prayer. He went to the room to see Hope and prayed for her briefly. However, when he went back to the waiting room he felt boldness well up within him. “I told the family, ‘Make no mistake about it, the Lord’s going to have to perform a miracle for her to get up out of that bed. He’ll do it, but we all need to pray right now,’” says Dustin.
The family stood and Dustin led them in a prayer. After that, he said his goodbyes and left, believing full well what he said—God’s going to have to do a miracle. Within days, Kelley emailed with an update: “Hope woke up!” A few days later, there was another one: “Hope is eating.” Miraculous updates kept coming saying Hope is speaking, joking, and even walking. And then the big one: She walked out of the hospital, healed.
Hope’s mother, Paige DeHart, says Dustin’s visit made a big impact, and so did the numerous hospital visits from other Gateway pastors in the weeks that followed.
“The Lord’s going to have to perform a miracle for her to get up out of that bed.”
“One Gateway minister looked at me and asked if there was anything he could do for me,” says Paige. “I just started crying. I really appreciated him being there.”
Gateway’s Relational Care ministry plays a significant part in stories like Hope’s. Gregg Morgan, associate pastor of Relational Care, says Hope’s story embodies one of his favorite aspects of his job at Gateway. He’s had countless opportunities to help people in their time of need, but getting to share the gospel is the icing on the cake. “We’ll receive a call to visit a member in the hospital, and the rest of the family isn’t saved,” says Gregg. “We get to minister the gospel to family members who don’t know God.”
More than a year ago, Gregg saw the firsthand benefits of this. He was called upon to officiate a funeral. The people who asked the Relational Care ministry for a pastor to officiate were Gateway members, but most of the 150 people in attendance were not believers. The people organizing the funeral asked Gregg to share the gospel, and he did. “I shared a simple message based on John 3:16 and said that Jesus was a gift we need to receive,” says Gregg. “Fifty people received Christ during that funeral service.”
Powerful moments like these have stayed with Gregg over the course of his nearly two years on the job. He loves all aspects of the Relational Care ministry: from Reveille, which helps veterans struggling with returning to civilian life, to Kids in Grief, which helps kids heal after losing a loved one. But his absolute favorite part of what he does is sharing the love of Jesus with people during their most difficult moments. “When a crisis hits—a suicide, funeral, or a trip to the hospital—the family needs a pastor. That’s why Gateway puts such an emphasis on relational care,” says Gregg. “When a family is down and out, my passion is to minister to their grieving need.”
That’s exactly what Pastor Dustin did when he visited Hope DeHart and her family. “The moment I prayed with that family, I saw them put their hope in God,” says Dustin. “There’s no doubt we saw a miracle take place.”
Gateway’s Relational Care ministry doesn’t just rely on pastors. There are numerous volunteers who share Gregg’s passion for ministering to people who are going through tough times. For more information on Relational Care and how to get involved, visit care.gatewaypeople.com.