From coma to Christ: incredible spiritual search ends with baptism

Pastor Casey Wolverton and Peter Harper (Photo: Kate Wolverton).

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On Sabbath April 17, 2021, members of Caboolture Seventh-day Adventist Church (Queensland) burst into spontaneous applause as their friend Peter Harper (aged 54) was baptised by Pastor Casey Wolverton, bringing his journey of spiritual seeking and searching to a beautiful end, and equally wonderful beginning.

From an early age, Peter recognised a God-given hunger within himself, and began spiritual journey seeking to satisfy it.

At seven years of age, Peter was walking across the pedestrian crossing at Stafford Heights Primary School (Brisbane) on his way home when he was hit by a car. The accident threw him more than 50 metres and landed him on his back, leaving him in a coma for six months. While Peter lay in an unconscious state, his faithful Roman Catholic grandmother became concerned for his eternal future and arranged for Peter to be baptised, which in the Catholic tradition involved sprinkling him with holy water.

When Peter regained consciousness, it was discovered that the brain-stem injury sustained from the accident had impacted his cognitive ability. Like an infant, he had to begin relearning basic skills such as feeding and toileting. Peter found it difficult to comprehend spoken and written texts. Despite his curtailed ability to understand what he was reading, Peter persevered, trying to teach himself and make himself better. Over the next eight years as Peter worked on his recovery, his grandmother would sometimes take him to the local Catholic church.

When Peter was 16 years of age, he asked his mother if he could attend church more regularly. His mother agreed and Peter attended five times every weekend—once on Saturday evening, three times on Sunday morning and once on Sunday evening—all evidence of Peter’s strong desire to satisfy his hunger for spiritual food.

Over the next decade, Peter visited many churches. He married his wife Naomi and they were blessed with two daughters. On one occasion, when Peter was working as a cabinet maker at Eagle Farm (a suburb of Brisbane), a Seventh-day Adventist man told him about his church.

Peter came to live in Caboolture in the same street as Caboolture Seventh-day Adventist Church (CABSDA). As he walked to and from the train station every day, he would see the sign at the church and he wondered what it would be like to worship there. One Sabbath morning when he saw all the cars arriving for the 8:30 am practice, he decided that he would go into the church and have a look. Peter immediately found acceptance and friendship. He was invited to join a Sabbath School class, met some friendly members and was even given a lift home.

That was three years ago and Peter has been joining in CABSDA church activities ever since. Peter sums up his association with CABSDA church as “Awesome.” He says, “I found the church people to be so friendly and caring. This is one of the things that has kept me coming to this church.”

As Pastor Wolverton studied with Peter, his spiritual hunger for righteousness was finally satisfied as he found all of his needs were being met in Jesus Christ. He was unaware of his first baptism, but this time it was his own personal choice. Jesus said that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled and they will be happy.

Celebrating with Peter with a fellowship lunch after his baptismal ceremony, members of CABSDA are thrilled by Peter’s decision to be baptised, and grateful that they could take part in his faith journey.

“We pray that as he continues to walk with Jesus, he will be filled with joy and peace,” said member Lynette Ashby on behalf of the congregation.

Speaking of Jesus, John said, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world” (John 1:9). God’s love is all-inclusive. He longs for a relationship with every human being and plants within each heart a hunger for a mutual relationship of love.

Photo: Kate Wolverton.
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