“I waited and waited and several hours went by,” said Ani. “First I texted him then I called him no answer. And this is very unusual for Gilbert.”
Ani finally did get a call that December evening in 2014. Her husband, Gilbert, had been in a motorcycle accident and was being flown to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, California.
Ani was given few details, so she prayed it wasn’t serious. At the hospital, the head doctor told her otherwise. “And I thought he’d say go in and visit him but he said, you need to go in and say your good bye.”
“I said, “Lord, you – I just, I surrender. You need to take over.” Gilbert had veered off the road and crashed – head first – into a mountainside. Along with multiple broken bones, he had massive brain trauma, and wasn’t expected to live. But family and friends who gathered to pray, believed differently.
Ani said, “I was just praying in my heart that, “Lord, you see everything and you know what’s ahead.” And at that very second when I was praying I knew He was there next to me and listening to me and throughout the whole experience I had supernatural moments with God, kind of Him reassuring me that, “I’m here next to you.” So again that’s all I could lean on because the doctors didn’t give any hope.”
Over the course of the night, the prognosis changed. “They said, “Well, it looks like he’s surviving, but he will be paralyzed from the neck down,” said Ani. Two days later Gilbert woke up and tests confirmed he wasn’t paralyzed. But it wasn’t over. He now had to overcome memory loss, and faced a multitude of surgeries and months of physical therapy. Even then, doctors expected he could be permanently disabled. “So we kept pushing through and praying,” said Ani. ”It was constant take a step forward; pray, take a step forward.” Gilbert regained his memory two weeks later. And now he was fully aware of what was at stake.
“I knew that God is going to show up,” said Gilbert. “God is going to change things. God is there with me.” That’s because this wasn’t the first time God carried his family through difficult trials. While living in Iran, they were persecuted.
Gilbert said, “I was 17 years old and when my dad was killed and was martyred with 26 stabs of knife. Was it easy? No. Was his grace enough? Yes. His grace was enough even then.”
After a year of surgeries and physical therapy, only one thing hadn’t been fully restored, the fingers on his right hand were locked closed because of nerve damage. Of all the possible outcomes, this troubled Gilbert the most. He felt his purpose and passion was leading others in worshipping God through his talent as a pianist.
“I had two doctors that did the surgery – they said, "Gilbert, that''s it. There''s no hope." And this is (gesturing) my situation. I mean, this was. I couldn''t move my fingers and I couldn''t even shake hands.” Gilbert’s physician in charge of his physical therapy, Dr. Raffi Balian.
“So that was a limitation that we thought would be devastating for him, because that was the end of a career,” said Dr. Balian.
But it wasn’t. Gilbert pressed on – and managed to get one finger to work. Gilbert said, “So it was extremely hard, but again, I knew that God is good. I can''t see God''s goodness in this area right now, but God is good.”
Gilbert came to terms with his disability, but he and his family continued to fast and pray for complete healing. “Almost seven months after the surgery I went to France to share the gospel and share my testimony,” said Gilbert.
“This couple came up to me and they said, "We are led by the Holy Spirit to pray for your healing."
“They prayed over my hand, my fingers, and I received that word by faith, even though again I had my doubts, but praise the Lord His grace is even beyond and above our faith and understanding,” said Gilbert.
“The next morning I woke up and when I woke up my fingers opened up. I couldn’t even believe that this is happening. And when I came to Los Angeles where I live I went to EMG test, the nerve test and the doctor said, "Wow, interesting. Your nerves are regenerating.”
Dr. Raffi Balian said, “That was a total surprise. And it was unbelievable when we first saw it.” “Nothing can change my mind or reassure me that it was anything other than a miracle,” said Ani.
Dr. Balian said, “His faith his determination played a major role in his overall recovery. Exceptional is probably the right word. It’s amazing also and I think we can also use the word miraculous also for this recovery.”
Gilbert is still using his gift to share Christ’s love to people of the Farsi speaking world through his family ministry. “And I knew my purpose, very clear. My purpose in life is to know Him and to make Him know. And through this accident I got to know him much more, praise the Lord.”