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Miraculous Recovery

Doctors feared brain damage after Virginia pastor Mark Morrow’s heart stopped for 33 minutes, but God granted complete healing.
On the eve of his 58th birthday, Randall “Mark” Morrow, senior pastor of Crosswalk Church in Williamsburg, Virginia, had no idea that he was about to receive an invaluable gift; a second chance at life.

Morrow, 60, who was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, found himself moving with his family to Toronto, Canada during his senior year of high school. While in Canada, Morrow joined the staff of The Church on the Queensway, a flagship church of the Canadian Assemblies of God fellowship. It was there in 1980 that Morrow met his future wife, Pam. Pamela Ruth Morrow, 59, was the niece of the youth pastor at the church and spent six years getting to know Morrow before they were married in 1986.

Once they were married, Morrow and his wife moved to the United States to continue their ministry as youth pastors at two Dallas-area churches. From there, the Morrows dedicated several more years as youth ministers between churches in Texas, Canada, and Virginia. However, after feeling a call to church planting, Morrow accepted an assignment to plant a church in Williamsburg, Virginia, and started Crosswalk Church in 2001.

Since 2001, both the Morrow’s family and Crosswalk Church have grown. Now a multi-site church, with campuses that reach people from Richmond to Virginia Beach, Crosswalk Church continues to be a place of ministry, not only for the Morrows, but for their ten children and six of their spouses. “We love serving with all our kids. The fact that they are all serving in the same church, let alone all serving Jesus, is a miracle in itself,” said Pam.

But the miracles for the Morrows do not stop there. On Monday, March 8, 2021, Morrow got up for his morning workout and met his son, Alexander, at the gym. After a run on the treadmill, Morrow suddenly dropped, unresponsive, to the floor. Despite being in incredible shape, Morrow had gone into cardiac arrest due to clogging in a major artery.

The Morrows daughter-in-law, Katie, was informed of the incident because of her employment at the gym and raced to the Morrows house to wake Pam who was still asleep.

As frightened as they were, none of the family expected to hear the doctors say that despite nearly twelve pages of documented resuscitation efforts, Morrow’s heart had stopped for a total of 33 minutes, and no oxygen had reached his brain in that time. Even with their most optimistic reports, doctors assured Pam and her family that Morrow would not be the same person if he woke up due to the extended length of time his brain had been deprived of oxygen.

“When we got the initial call at the ER about Mark’s case coming in, we all knew there was, at best, a 95% chance he wasn’t going to make it,” recalls ER nurse, Robyn Pellei. Pellei, a veteran emergency room nurse, reported that as they got their trauma room ready for Mark’s arrival, they went ahead and prepared a body bag due to the unlikelihood of his survival.

When Morrow arrived at the small, local emergency room in Williamsburg, his heart stopped for a third time, but he was again medically resuscitated. “Since we are a small hospital,” Pellei states, “critical cases are often quickly care-flighted to a bigger hospital. When Mark was loaded into the helicopter, our entire team stood in amazement that his heart was still beating. Of course, none of us expected he would ever regain normal brain activity.”

Pam and her two sons drove from the ER to the hospital where Morrow was being taken. She recalls seeing him for the first time. “When I walked in to see him, it was like looking at a dead body,” she says. “Although I knew what the doctors kept trying to tell me, I just couldn’t give up hope.”

Morrow remained in MICU and in a coma for six days while his family and friends from around the world lifted him up in a steady stream of prayer.

“All of a sudden,” Morrow says, “my reports started coming back normal. No heart damage, no organ damage, things were healing,” he states. However, the amount of brain damage Morrow suffered remained unknown. “The doctors said the only way to know about his brain damage was for him to wake up and show us,” reports Pam.

The Morrow family continued to do the only two things they could do: pray and wait. Reverend Frank Potter, district superintendent of the POTOMAC district, came from Washington D.C. to pray over Morrow in his hospital room. “I remember just praying for God to give Mark a miracle he could steward and use for God’s glory,” Potter states. “And that’s when the breakthrough happened,” says Morrow. Within a few hours of Potter’s prayer, Morrow awoke from his coma, and although he was still intubated, he became alert enough to start communicating by pen and paper. “What was most impactful for me,” Potter reports, “was when Mark reached over, grabbed a clipboard, and wrote, ‘God must not be finished with me yet.”

“Mark has always been keen on his punctuation,” Pam jokes, “and when I saw how he was writing and using proper punctuation, I knew he was going to make a full recovery.”

Within ten days of his heart attack, Morrow was released from the hospital with no lasting effects. Yet Morrow was determined to continue to prove the doctors wrong and demonstrate that God had fully restored his mind as well as his body. Within just months of his heart attack, Morrow started his doctoral program at Southeastern University and has become the first person at the school to complete their Doctor of Ministry degree in two years.

“We give all the glory to God,” Morrow says.

Since his heart attack, the now Dr. Mark Morrow has clung to Psalms 90:12. He states, “The verse reminds us to number our days. Once you’ve had an experience like I’ve had, suddenly every day counts.” Morrow says he has realized relationships are what matter most and has shifted his ministry and his focus on intentionally investing in his relationships with family, congregants, colleagues, community leaders, and missionaries.

Ashley B. Grant

Ashley B. Grant has a master's degree in Human Services Marriage and Family Counseling from Liberty University and is a credentialed Christian counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors. Grant also holds certifications in crisis pregnancy counseling and advanced life coaching. Ashley is a fourth generation Assemblies of God preacher’s kid and has one daughter and three sons.