A massive health scare took Paul Latham to church. An astonishing recovery led him to put all his skills and energy into God’s service. Paul is now a first year Diploma student with CMS and leads a project at Cradley Heath in the West Midlands.
HH: I know you had a very serious medical emergency in your past and it led to faith in quite a dramatic way. Would you be willing to share that with us, please?
Ten years ago, I was running my businesses and I was ill while away. My wife, who is a nurse, gave me some advice over the phone and the client suggested I go home.
On the way home I had a funny sensation like warm water, or a spider, running down my face. When I got home my wife reminded me that I was due for my health MOT.
At the doctor’s I talked about this sensation of water on my face, and the doctor sent me for an MRI scan. I wanted to look at the results of the scan but they told me I had to wait two or three weeks. They called two days later, and said they wanted to see me that day.
My father had had a stroke in his mid-60s so I was quite worried. I said to the doctor, am I having a stroke? I was told no, but you have a mass in your mastoid. I didn’t even know where my mastoid was! My friend kindly Googled it for me, and told me I was supposed to be dead!
Later, I got a phone call from a Mr Gru, (it was the time of the Minions movie) so I said ‘Hello, how are the minions?’ He didn’t enjoy the joke, and said he was my consultant!
At the consultant’s I saw the scans and saw a large white shape right by my carotid artery, I was told it was a massive brain tumour and I would need an operation to lift off my face and remove the tumour. I asked ‘have you done this before?’ They said yes, and I asked what happened to the person. Sadly, they died.
I asked when the operation needed to happen and Mr Gru said this week; I used my salesman techniques to get that extended to three weeks, to prepare my affairs. The operation only had a 20 per cent chance of success.
Back at home, two of my customers had prayed for me and so, on the Saturday, I felt like I could pray. I prayed and I fell asleep in the armchair. In that sleep time, (where I usually do my learning) I was told to go to church.
So, the next day, I went to Christ Church at Quarry Bank with my two young sons. I didn’t tell anyone why we went. The following week I could not get out of bed. But my little boy got himself up and came into my room, and he said, “You need to go to church.” I said, “We can go next week,” but my son said “YOU need to go to church.”
So, we went. The reverend who was there approached me and said “Do you want to speak to me?”, and I said “Yes, I do.” So, I spoke to the vicar about a lot of things, like where you go when you die, and the last rites.
When next at the hospital they took me in to have a scan, and afterwards the consultant told me the tumour had stopped growing!
What an amazing story, Paul. So, where are you now, health-wise?
So, 10 years ago I was diagnosed and then five years later I was signed off and do not need to return for any more check-ups. I have never had the surgery. The consultant called me in five years ago and said “I think you’re wasting my time!” He shook my hand and said “Go and live your life. “ And as I left his office he said, “Keep going to church.“
So, I only need to go back if I have any significant changes, or I die!
By God’s Grace I am here today, there is no other reason.
You told me that after your experience with your health scare, you felt no interest in money, and wanted to do God’s will. You gave away some businesses and started doing church work. Can you tell me more?
I became an ALM (Authorised Lay Minister), Church Warden, Treasurer, and Eucharistic Minister, and I went into semi-retirement with an aim to read more of the Bible.
Two years ago I started helping at Cradley Heath Community link. I was asked to look at it and so I said I would run it on a temporary basis for a few months; and two years later I am still there.
Sandwell Council support us with some money, so we do things like, a drug and alcohol rehab café (where people on the road to recovery can work their way back into the community) and a school uniform exchange.
Champions Church approached me to ask if we had any facilities we could use for a dinner on a Tuesday evening, and we set that up for 40 to 50 people at a church with a good-sized kitchen. There are also ‘Worship Wednesdays’ and many of the people from the Tuesday dinner come to the worship session. We also run coffee mornings, men’s mental health talks, and men’s and women’s coffee afternoons.
With all these endeavours – was there one activity, person or time that really stands out for you?
A guy came to Worship Wednesday and asked if we could help to re-write his CV, he had early-onset dementia. We said we would and he came back every day and volunteered with us. It took about 12 months, but now he has a full-time job, and his life and family life has completely changed.
Paul, thank you for sharing these amazing stories with us. How can we pray for you?
Please pray for our CIO – Charitable Incorporated Organisation – we have had some funding come through for an assistant for me, which will allow me to step up and away. So, I will be the project leader and we can then expand on what we are doing and start to replicate it. So, prayer for the bigger picture and how we can expand what we are doing into other areas.