Maybe it was because of the magnet on the refrigerator, but immediately Weldon Taylor knew something wasn’t right.
Hanging out at the kitchen table on July 5 with his son, who had just returned home from a tour of duty in the Middle East the day before, Taylor felt weak and light-headed.
His mind was still sharp, but his body was failing him.
A few feet away on his fridge door was a magnet listing the signs of an impending stroke. Taylor had seen it so many times, he almost had it memorized.
“I looked at my wife across the table and said, ‘I’m having a stroke,’ ” said Taylor, who is serving on the Rock the River Ottawa’s Finance Committee. “I realized life changes in an instant.”
And in that instant, Taylor’s wife, Heidi, shifted Taylor to the floor and called an ambulance. Heidi, a certified ski patroller, knew that if this was true, precious time was ticking away.
Within five minutes, paramedics had arrived and thanks to the swift action, Taylor was administered the TPA clot-busting medication, which he credits to saving his life.
Well, that and one other thing.
“Miracles still happen,” he said. “Even the doctors are saying, ‘You’ve been blessed.’ “
‘He Had Another Plan for Me’
By his own account, Taylor shouldn’t even have lived to his current age of 52. Four years ago, he suffered what many call a “Widow-Maker,” as one of his arteries was 100 percent blocked and the front side of his heart was dead.
“Your chance of survival is very minimal,” he said. “But the Lord decided He had another plan for me.”
Taylor survived and he had a defibrillator inserted to help extend his life. “They’re afraid if I get excited, I don’t have the muscle control to slow it down,” he said.
Four years later, he found himself back in the hospital—this time recovering from a stroke. After being in the hospital bed for a month, Taylor couldn’t even pick up a pencil.
Recovery was sporadic: “My handwriting came right back, but my sense of balance was way off,” he said.
Taylor now estimates he functions at around 90 percent, as his brain continues to heal. Doctors—almost dumbfounded at his speedy recovery—tell him he could get back to 100 percent within two years. (“All I can say is I’ve been blessed.”)
But despite quickly regaining most of his motor skills, Taylor was confined to his bed, which created two significant problems.
One: He had his own printing business and had to keep it running. Two: Rock the River was less than three months away and he had to keep spreading the word and help with fundraising.
And Taylor doesn’t take his responsibility lightly. “So I made calls from the hospital,” he said.
‘I’m in Love with Jesus’
That dedication to spreading the Gospel and partnering with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association dates back to the 1998 Billy Graham Crusade in Ottawa, Mr. Graham’s last international outreach event.
Taylor at the time was in the office equipment supply business and helped outfit the BGEA Crusade office that year. The team liked his work and invited him to do other Crusades, including Indianapolis (1999), Louisville (2001) and San Diego (2003).
“It was very cool,” Taylor said of the experience. “Something you want to model to your children.”
Taylor has four grown children now, all serving the Lord, including one that’s a children’s pastor and another working for Hillsong in Australia. He’s convinced that the experience of traveling from Ottawa all over the United States and experiencing the witness of the BGEA helped root his family’s faith in Christ.
He still remembers one pivotal moment when a local Indianapolis TV station interviewed one of his daughters—age 14 at the time—at the ’99 Indy Crusade.
“They asked her, ‘We heard you’re from Canada, what brings you here?’ ” he recalled. “She said, ‘I’m in love with Jesus Christ and I want everyone to know it.’ And they played that on the 6 o’clock news.”
Reaching Canada with the Gospel of Christ is no easy task, Taylor realizes, but he thinks Ottawa is a great place to pour in resources.
“You’d like to see a revival, if possible, start in the nation’s capital,” Taylor said. “I’d like to see a wildfire go through here and it just might. It’s pretty dry here.”
And he’s not just referring to the lack of rain this year.
“Ottawa is one of those spiritually dry places,” Taylor explained. “I think it’s a great time to be here. (Canada) is a country that should be a lot more Christian than it is. The best place to start would be here in Ottawa.”
What is Rock the River?
Rock the River is a two-day, music-infused Gospel outreach Festival, featuring the preaching of Franklin Graham around high-impact music and testimony at downtown Ottawa’s Britannia Park.
Nearly 2,000 counselors have completed training to share their faith in Jesus Christ and will have the opportunity to do so on both Sept. 29 and 30.
Saturday’s lineup includes The Almost, Lacey Sturm from Flyleaf, Prosper, Flame, The Afters and Ten Thousand Foot Krutch. Sunday’s lineup features Michael W. Smith, Matt Maher, Canton Jones, Sebastian Demrey, L’Angelus, as well as Lacey and The Afters.
Both day’s events will run from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. with free admission.
Can’t make it to Ottawa? You can watch Rock the River streaming online live at www.ransom.tv.
Help Impact a Hurting Generation
Youth are starved for the hope of the Gospel. You can help bring them the love of Christ by donating to Rock the River and other ministries.