Published June 27, 2017

Paul's Epistle
"Michael's Encounter"

Michael Helwig, who's been lead singer for the Blackwood Brothers for several years, is a most interesting man. I recall about a year ago he and I were at a concert venue with some time on our hands and we just started talking. About anything and everything. Music, of course. But also such varied things as property values, taxes, how things are different in his native Canada, mechanical gadgets and alternate electricity supplies (á la Nikola Tesla). Michael's one fascinating guy.

But even then he was in a wheelchair. He had been diagnosed with ALS, also commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease. It had taken a toll as he, for all practical purposes, was losing reliable control of his legs. Even though Michael could still sing, the disease's progression forced Michael to leave the road earlier this year, at least on a regular basis, citing what he calls his "mobility challenges."

Then, a few months back, Michael was at home with his wife, Leslie, who happens to be a nurse, when something most amazing happened. Michael later recorded an online video explaining what transpired – something he will never, ever forget. Here's a transcript of Mike's account of his most amazing encounter:

"Leslie and my son, Sam, apparently lifted me up so I could lay on the bed with my head on the pillow. And I was having so much trouble breathing. It seemed like, gosh, it seemed like hours that I was laying there trying to breathe and not able to.

"And about the time I started to wonder if this was it, the room started to fade out and I saw just the brightest light I've ever seen in my life. But it didn't hurt my eyes. It was just brilliantly bright. And as I was trying to figure out what that bright light was and where it was coming from, it started to part a little bit and there were these beautiful colors that I was seeing — colors like I couldn't even describe... I've just never seen colors like that. So vibrant, so beautiful, so bright.

"And there was what looked like people mulling around in behind, but they were so far away I couldn't see them. I couldn't see who they were. And I was straining and straining to see who they were, trying to get closer to them and I really couldn't see who they were, but I just felt like I needed to find out.

"So as I was straining to see who these people were in amongst these beautiful, wonderful colors and this brilliant light, I felt a presence beside me. And as I looked over, I didn't have to guess who it was. It was, it was Jesus standing right next to me. And I looked into His eyes and I just, I was transfixed. I couldn't look away.

"And what He did was — He smiled at me. He reached down with His hand and He touched my chest and immediately, I was able to breathe again. I took as many gulps for air as I needed, that my body was craving so badly at the time, that the first thing I could think of was to say, ‘Thank You.' And I looked at Him right in the eyes and I said, ‘Thank You' to Him.

"[It was] just the most amazing experience I've ever had in my life. And if having this disease and the pain and the discomfort that goes along with it, boy — I would, I would go through this or something ten times worse to have that experience again. It was absolutely incredible. And I wouldn't give anything not to have had that experience.

"But I want to be here, too. I want to be with my wife, I want to be with my family, my parents, my sisters. Man. If they could only have seen what I saw, there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. And there is nothing on this earth that's worth giving that up for. Nothing. There's not an experience, there's not a vehicle, there's not a house. There's not an impression to make to anybody on this earth that's worth giving what I saw up for."

Obviously, the Lord isn't finished with Michael yet in this life — and graciously provided for him this awesome encounter that will comfort and encourage him throughout the remainder of his years here. And his testimony will encourage – and has already encouraged – many others.

Michael has absolutely no doubt about his experience. In a separate article that he wrote for Singing News magazine, he insisted this was no mere vision or hallucination. In his words, "I know what I saw; and it was as real as this computer in front of me now. Jesus is real, He is alive, and He still works miracles." Amen!

And, in Michael's hauntingly appropriate words, he has this encouragement for you: "Be diligently about our Father's business, for the kingdom of Heaven is merely a breath away."

- Paul

PS: An abbreviated version of Michael's interview will be heard on this coming weekend's broadcast. After that, a link will provided on our website and in this newsletter to view Michael's entire video commentary online.
PPS: Michael's article in the June, 2017, issue of Singing News magazine also includes his fascinating first-hand visual description of the Lord, as He appeared to him.

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