Preacher’s solo walk into church called Easter miracle

Rev. Mike Grindle, left, walks in under his own power. At right is J.C. Moye, just in case.

To most folks, a slow walk of about 30 feet isn’t that big a deal. For the Rev. Mike Grindle, who took such a stroll on Sunday, April 16, it was a major undertaking.

Grindle, who was told by doctors a year ago that he likely wouldn’t live to see another Easter, entered Presley Street Baptist Church Sunday through its rear door and made his way slowly into the church sanctuary to deliver the Easter sermon.

J.C. Moye held a walker as he preceded the preacher; Mickey Parker trailed him with a wheelchair. It turned out that neither was needed.

“I told you so,” Grindle grinned as he completed the walk and looked over the congregation, which then awarded the cancer-stricken minister a round of applause.

“It was a year ago that he told them from the pulpit what the diagnosis was, that (doctors) gave him three days to three weeks to live,” Moye said. “He told them that they don’t know what they’re talking about, that he still had a lot of work to do.”

Barbara Grindle, who checked her husband’s oxygen level before he began speaking and kept a nervous eye on him throughout the sermon, called the unaided entrance a miraculous Easter event.

“He has lymphoma, and he’s had a lot of trouble walking, so it’s a miracle,” she beamed. “He was determined to walk into church on his own. He knew the Lord would take care of him, and He did. His oxygen level, even when he’s taking oxygen at home, is usually in the 93-95 range. Just before he started to speak, it was 99. Isn’t that amazing?”

Grindle, who preached from his wheelchair, based his sermon upon the standard Easter theme as reported in the accounts by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, as well as the message of freedom, hope and power spelled out in Acts 26.

“I have the hope, I have the assurance that whatever comes this afternoon, whatever comes tomorrow, that He is forever with me and that he abides with me forever more,” the pastor said, equating the Biblical verses to his own situation without mention of himself or his medical condition. “You have power over anything that comes your way. It is a personal power, a purposeful power, a presiding power. That power will help us no matter what we face.”

Visibly weary from the exertion, Grindle said afterward that his faith is stronger than any doctor’s diagnosis.

“The doctors came around and said there was nothing they could do, that I might as well go home and make myself comfortable,” he said as a stream of congregants came forward for a handshake or hug, or to deliver words of encouragement and support. “I said then that they don’t have the last word, that God does. That was last year sometime, so I’ve been making it.”

Parker, who has become Grindle’s chief aide as the cancer has progressed, gave a terse assessment of the sermon and its preceding moments as tears filled his eyes.

“I’m proud of him; he did good today,” the pastor’s close friend said.