Brought Back from the Dead?

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted November 23, 2020

Michael Knapinski, a 45-year-old Washington state man, was hiking with a friend in Mount Rainier National Park on November 7 when the two decided to split up, arranging to meet in the parking lot of the park’s Paradise area that same night. Knapinski continued the rest of the way alone and on snowshoes.

“I was pretty close to the end (of the trail). … Then it turned to whiteout conditions, and I couldn’t see anything,” Knapinski told The Seattle Times newspaper. A “whiteout” is described, in one definition, as “a blizzard that severely reduces visibility.”

According to the article, “the last thing he said he remembers is taking baby steps down the mountain, surrounded by white.” Said Knapinski, “I’m not sure what happened. I think I fell.”

When Knapinski failed to show up at the lot, his friend alerted the authorities. Owing to the severe weather, it was the next day before rescuers found the hiker in the drainage area of the Nisqually River. They airlifted him to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center by a U.S. Navy helicopter.


Died in the ER

While in the emergency room, Knapinski “went into cardiac arrest” and “died.” But the medical team did not stop working on him. They continued to administer CPR and put him on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment. ECMO pumps blood “outside of the body to a heart-lung machine that removes carbon dioxide and sends oxygen-filled blood back to tissues in the body.” According to Dr. Jenelle Badulak, an emergency room physician who treated Knapinski, it “is the most advanced form of artificial life support that we have in the world.”

Knapinski was in this state for approximately 45 minutes, after which the doctors restarted his heart. He was then moved to the intensive care unit (ICU). Three days later, he woke up.

“He came back from the dead. … Maybe not medically quite correct, but his heart wasn’t beating for more than 45 minutes,” Dr. Saman Arbabi, medical director of the hospital’s surgical ICU, declared. “It’s amazing.”

As for Knapinski, who’s still recovering from frostbite burns, kidney problems, and slight “cognitive delays,” this is a life-changing experience. A former drug addict who credits hiking with helping him kick the habit, he now wants to dedicate his life to giving to others.

“And as soon as I get physically able, that’s going to be my calling in life,” he told the newspaper. “Just helping people.”


A Life Made New

Knapinski’s experience is reminiscent of an account in the Gospel written by Mark.

During Jesus’ visit to the Gadarenes, an area on the other side of the Sea of Galilee across from where He had been preaching, the Savior encountered a horrible sight:

“And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones” (Mark 5:2–5).

Jesus miraculously restored the man to health and sanity, casting out the demons into a herd of swine, who immediately drowned themselves. The former demon-possessed man, now fully “clothed and in his right mind” (v. 15), sat in complete peace.

While this greatly upset the locals, who asked Jesus to leave town, the man who’d been healed begged the Savior for a chance to be His disciple. Instead, Jesus instructed him to share his testimony with others: “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you” (v. 19). So the man did just that.

When you think about it, anyone who’s been saved by Jesus Christ has also been brought back from the dead, from the death of our sins. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Read the entirety of Romans 6. See the miracle Christ grants to each of us who dies to our old life of sins that we may be born again in Him! We are “dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 11); we are therefore to “present [ourselves] to God as being alive from the dead, and [our] members as instruments of righteousness to God” (v. 13).

Those “instruments” are to be used to share the gospel with others. As the apostle John counseled in writing to the early church, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death” (1 John 3:14).

As Knapinski’s story illustrates, a lot can happen when someone is “dead.” But so much more is possible for those who are spiritually born anew as disciples of Christ. This is a miracle that every person in the world has the privilege of undergoing, if he so chooses: Every believer faces “The Call to Discipleship.” As Pastor Doug Batchelor said, “Being a disciple energizes the spirit, challenges the mind, and demands our utmost in our relationship with God and our fellow humans. Without total allegiance to Christ and the demands of His life and message there can be no discipleship. What higher calling could one have?”


Mark Kellner
Mark A. Kellner is a staff writer for Amazing Facts International. He is a veteran journalist whose work has been published in Religion News Service, The Washington Times, and numerous computer magazines.
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