No Fear of the Future: Florida Pastor Describes Near-Death Experience, Healing
By Carl Stagner
“I remember staring at the wall and the wall parted. I was in the most beautiful place I’d ever seen, and standing right there was Jesus Christ. I was pretty excited because I realized I’m going to see all my friends and family gone before me—this is what I’ve lived for! But Jesus came to me and told me he was there to encourage me, that I would get well, and that he was with me at all times.” The words of the pastor of the Sebring, Florida, congregation of the Church of God paint a picture that surely falls short of what he saw, yet testifies to the magnificent and mysterious grace of God. The life and ministry of Mike Rogers continues on the other side of such a special encounter, but with increased faith, fresh fervor, and a renewed sense of urgency.
Mike Rogers has served as lead pastor of Church on the Ridge for four years. Formerly, he was the associate during winters for three years; in the end, he’d been a part of the church for about a decade because of prior attendance as a layman. But taking the step of faith to accept the job of lead pastor seemed to coincide with intense spiritual warfare as his physical health was challenged multiple times in multiple ways, only a year into the role.
“Last fall I went in for surgery on my neck and was supposed to be in there overnight,” Mike recounts, “but ended up being in the hospital for 42 days with sepsis, pneumonia, a bladder infection, and severe pain. I was in intensive care for 21 days. My wife walked in one morning, before they determined what was happening, and I told her I honestly thought I was dying. She said, ‘I’m beginning to think so, too.’”
All this came on the heels of a rocky road that welcomed him to his senior pastorate in 2019. First, a knee replacement. Six months later, another knee replacement. By the end of May 2022, he’d had heart bypass surgery, though he’d never experienced any symptoms before that. In September, neck surgery and a near-death experience.
“My wife said after the neck surgery—and I didn’t get a chance to tell her about the experience until the next morning—that I had stared at the wall most of the day and was mumbling in words she couldn’t understand. But I was understanding every word Jesus said to me, though I realized it was a language I didn’t know.”
One more time, sepsis put Mike in the hospital for a brief stay, but his demeanor was completely different. “I was personally assured by Jesus that everything would be okay, so our whole attitude was, ‘Let’s get this taken care of and let’s get out of here!’ I was on antibiotics for a week and that was it.”
Near-death experiences are often met with skepticism and scrutiny. Those who doubt their veracity, however, testify to an openness to the mysterious ways God speaks to people when it happens to them. For Pastor Mike Rogers, whatever it was that got his attention that day and saved his life also radically changed his perspective on a whole lot of things.
“Nobody’s ever been able to tell me why the other stuff happened after the neck surgery,” he reflects, “but I know my faith is so much stronger now. God has me in Sebring for a reason. I worry less about things that don’t matter. I’m focused more on the kingdom of God than anything else. And I’m not afraid of offending others with truth from the pulpit. I feel an urgency to share Jesus with others. God saved me for a reason, and I feel that’s a big part of it.”
Recovered and refreshed with resolve, Pastor Mike Rogers takes time to enjoy what life has to offer. You’ll find him out on the golf course regularly, enjoying creation and the company of others. But ever since he saw the “vivid colors” and “things [he’d] never seen before,” he’s quick to point out he’s never been more excited to spend eternity with Jesus.
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.