Don't miss any stories. Follow AG News!
But the most unexpected of experiences took place just hours before the surgery began, when a prayer meeting broke out and God showed up in a Little Rock, Arkansas, Red Lobster restaurant.
PRAYER CHANGES THINGS
“It was Jan. 19, 2016, and 19 of us (from The Link Church in Fernwood) traveled to Little Rock as I was scheduled for surgery the next morning,” Doyle says. “They asked where I wanted to go out to eat, and I chose Red Lobster because I had received a gift card for there.”
That seemingly random decision, proved to be not so random as God had everything lined up.
“They put us in the dead center of the restaurant, pushing a whole bunch of tables together,” recalls Doyle, who was 50 at the time. “A waitress asked if we were here celebrating a special occasion. I told her we were here because I was having brain surgery tomorrow.”
The waitress then surprised Doyle. She asked if he’d mind if they prayed for him after a while. Thinking she meant they would “remember him” in prayer, Doyle agreed — marking it down as a nice gesture.
As their meal drew to a close, Doyle was shocked when it seemed the entire wait staff came out — they all wanted to really pray for him. Joining hands with the Medlock’s friends, they encircled the couple. After a few moments of quiet prayer, the waitress who had originally asked to pray for Doyle, led out in an unashamed and powerful prayer that the Medlocks — and no one present — will ever forget it. Yet, even though the compassionate outpouring of prayer was so unexpected, it was the Spirit’s response that filled the room with wonder.
“It got to the point, it was so thick in there with God’s presence . . . ,” Doyle says, pausing. “For a time, I thought it was a dream or that we were all in an empty parking lot and the people I was seeing were angels — I even asked them if they were.”
Lauren Brasel, who was a high school sophomore at the time, was there with her parents and recalls the evening vividly.
“It was almost like a fog of peace, and it was like every weight in the building was lifted off of our shoulders,” she says in a video message. “We knew that God was in control in that moment, we knew that He was going to take care of him (Doyle) . . . I mean, I’ve never felt anything like it . . . we were all crying, but it wasn’t because we were scared, it was because we knew that God is God and He is in control.”
The Medlocks recall people in booths, not a part of their group, had stopped eating to join in the prayer, and as they left, restaurant patrons were stopping Doyle, telling him that he was going to be okay — that God would take care of him.
“I was bawling my eyes out,” Doyle admits. “When the wait staff prayed, I felt the Spirit out in a public place like I have only before felt in church when the Spirit moves . . . it was like all of a sudden the glory of God invades a Red Lobster — it was pretty cool.”
Donna was changed by the experience as well.
“I was so bothered by the tumor — I was very scared,” she says. “But that experience brought the most amazing peace in to all of us. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever felt as a Christian. It was just awesome.”
THE ROAD TO THE MIRACULOUS
Although the Medlocks were prepared to learn that God had totally removed the tumor, that was not result. After 2 ½ hours of surgery, the neurosurgeon reported that he had removed as much of the tumor as he could without potentially leaving Doyle paralyzed. He explained that about 45% to 50% of the tumor had entered the brain tissue and was like (as Doyle describes) as if cheese and butter had melted together — impossible to remove the tumor without severely damaging the brain.
Yet, Donna says, that even getting this far was a miracle in itself.
“We had decided to get healthy, so we joined a gym earlier in the year,” she says. “But when Doyle tried to run on the treadmill, it was ‘run, thud, run, thud’ as his one foot didn’t seem to be working right, and the one leg seemed smaller than the other.”
The first doctor they visited felt the issue was due to problem in Doyle’s back and sent him to rehab, which produced no results. He was then slated to see a neurologist, but that was a two-month wait, so Doyle decided to visit a Christian chiropractor as they waited.
Donna recalls the chiropractor examining Doyle and how he took Doyle by the hand apparently to check a response, and then let Doyle’s hand fall.
“He told Doyle that his problem didn’t have anything to do with skeletal issues and that he needed to see a neurologist today.”
The chiropractor was able to get Doyle into a neurologist in just two weeks, where eventually they learned Doyle had the brain tumor. However, the neurosurgeon who performed the surgery, Dr. Ali Krisht, is considered one of the best neurosurgeons in the world when it comes to brain tumors.
“God was in this from the start,” Donna says, “from us joining the gym, to seeing the doctor, to seeing the chiropractor, getting in to see a neurologist so quickly, and then having Dr. Krisht be our neurosurgeon.”
Although instantaneous healings are typically what most people seek, in this case Doyle and Donna felt God’s peace in a way that gave them a confidence in His provision no matter how or when healing took place.
Donna knew shortly after the surgery that God’s hand had been on Doyle. He was one of six individuals to have brain surgery that morning.
“As I walked by the rooms of the others who had brain surgery, they were all hooked up to all kinds of machines and breathing tubes and all these bells and whistles going off everywhere,” Donna says. “I was just praying that God would help me be strong when I got to Doyle’s room.”
When she entered the room, Doyle was already conscious and alert with what looked like a few adhesive bandages on his head.
“Is David (Willis, The Link Church lead pastor) out there?” he asked her. “I saw a Five Guys down the road. Tell him to get me a burger, because I’m starving to death.”
GOD’S CONTINUING WORK
Although Doyle basically walked out of the hospital, he still faced three months of radiation and a full year of chemotherapy. He doesn’t candy-coat it — it was a very difficult time.
“But he never missed work, until the last couple of months, because the chemo would make him so sick — he would miss one day (following chemo),” Donna says.
Yet despite the struggle, the Medlocks believed that God was at work in Doyle’s body.
“I couldn’t stand on my tiptoes and I had to think out every step in order to make my foot work properly,” Doyle says. “The neurologist told me I would never be able to do either of those things because the location of the tumor had broken that pathway in my brain and those pathways don’t repair themselves.”
Following the conclusion of chemo, the Medlocks began to notice improvements in Doyle’s physical energy and abilities. Doyle was determined to one day stand on his tiptoes, though initially he wasn’t making much progress. At each check-up, the news from the neurologist was the same: tumor looks the same, it hasn’t grown, and the scar tissue is the same. This report continued for the next three years.
But between the second and third year, Doyle walked into the neurologist office and said, “Look,” as his stood on his tiptoes. The neurologist was stunned, asking him to do it again. Then he asked him to walk out of the room and back again, which Doyle performed with carefree ease.
“The doctor told me to wait a moment, he had to get his phone to video what I was doing,” Doyle recalls. “He said, ‘You don’t know and understand . . . you’re defying all odds doing this! Your path was broken, it just doesn’t fix itself…’ I told him I did understand, but that I had a pathway to the One that can fix it. He just kind of laughed, but he knew what I was talking about.”
Bit by bit, day by day, Doyle continued his recovery. His appointments with the neurologist also continued. But even though he could stand on his tiptoes and walk normally without thought, the report on the tumor remained the same — hasn’t grown, scar tissue evident.
“From the time the wait staff prayed for me at Red Lobster, I knew that whatever God had for me, I knew it was going to be fixed,” Doyle says. “I knew He was going to do it, but do it in His timing.”
On Jan. 24, four years and four days after the original surgery, the doctor, per routine, returned to the room to discuss Doyle’s latest scan results.
“I asked him what the percentage was of the tumor to ever start growing again,” Doyle says. “He told me he didn’t know, but what he did know was that he could no longer see the tumor, the scarring from radiation was gone, and all that was left was a hole where the tumor was!”
There was no explanation — it was just gone! A huge weight was lifted off Doyle and Donna’s shoulders as the realization of God’s answer to prayer was fulfilled and joy swept through their hearts.
The news of Doyle’s healing was received with applause and shouts of praise at that Sunday’s church service.
PREPARED TO MINISTER
Currently, there are two people also attending The Link Church in Fernwood who are dealing with brain and nasal tumors. Doyle says that his journey was not fun, but it has been a rewarding one and he’s ready to do whatever needs to be done to help those going through difficult challenges like he’s experienced.
“I asked God to give me a front row seat to my life, understanding that I may have to go through battles and go through a lot of things,” Doyle says, “but that I would be able to watch my life’s journeys through this, and see how God was working in me, so that I could use it for His glory.”