In Jan. 29 IssueBy Kim GrahamNews-Register Reporter
In the midst of a long cold winter and uncertain times, Russell Countians received a message of hope from a man who came to share God's love with the community.
Ian McCormack, a former atheist who once traveled the world surfing its beaches, now travels the world recounting his near death experience and giving his Christian testimony.
While diving for lobsters back in 1982 off the coast of Mauritius, a small island near South Africa, McCormack was stung on his forearm by five box jellyfish.
"The impact was like thousands of volts of electricity," said McCormack. "My arm went up like a balloon. My skin was blistered as if I'd been burned on the stove and the poison moved through my lymph glands and began constricting my right lung and my breathing."
Most people stung by box jellyfish die within minutes once the poison enters their bloodstream.
McCormack says he experienced life after death, was healed by God, and sent back to tell others about God's love and the way to salvation.
"God said to me, 'Ian if you return, you must see in a new light'," said McCormack. "…God loves sinners. He doesn't love sin. God has provided a way to clean us from sin so He can love us back to life. His love was loving me back to life and I've never been the same since."
McCormack told his miraculous story to groups at five different area locations, including Coffey's Chapel UMC in the Eli Community.
Mike Harris, a member of Coffey's Chapel, was instrumental in arranging for McCormack's visit to Kentucky.
Harris said his interest in people who have had near death experiences led him to see McCormack's testimony, "A glimpse of Eternity" on Youtube.
Since then, Harris had wanted to see McCormack in person.
Last September, during a Wednesday night prayer meeting at Coffey's Chapel, plans were set in motion to bring McCormack to Russell County.
On that Wednesday night, Harris sent an email asking McCormack to share his testimony in Kentucky and in less than a week all arrangements were made for his visit.
"The Lord laid it on my heart to invite Ian McCormack to come to Kentucky," said Harris. "The Lord brought this all together."
Harris originally had concerns about finances, lodging, and venues for McCormack.
McCormack eased those concerns by saying he would pay for his flights, stay with a family rather than at a hotel, tell his story wherever they saw fit to host him, and he has no set speaking fees but lives on love offerings.
"I've never met a man like him," said Mike Harris. "He's very humble and does not seek fame or fortune. He just wants to bring people closer to the Lord."
Harris said McCormack could have sold the rights to his story years ago and made millions but he has no desire for wealth or material things.
All who entered Coffey's Chapel last Sunday received a free DVD of McCormack's testimony, "A Glimpse of Eternity".
Everyone was encouraged to make copies freely and share the video with others.
"I saw the sincere love he has for people and their salvation," Harris said. "He serves with humility and doesn't want to be in the spotlight because it's all about Jesus."
Many who attended moved from their seats to join McCormack in prayer at the altar.
"It was probably one of the most emotionally moving experiences I've had," said Russell County resident Julie Beckmann. "He is so humble, spiritual and at peace. I really enjoyed it."
McCormack has given his testimony for 29 years in 50 countries and admits to growing weary but said he continues following God's will to bring the message of Jesus Christ to anyone who will listen because he has a burden on his heart for lost souls.
"I saw from being around (McCormack), he is so impacted by what he experienced," said Harris. "He talked about Jesus and the Bible 24/7."
Harris said McCormack's concern for everyone he meets is like watching a person in desperation trying to warn every car on a road about the danger of a bridge out over a deep canyon.
"That's what I see with him is wanting to help people change from the path to destruction to the path of salvation," said Harris.
Harris said there were many people saved at local meetings with McCormack.
"I hope it will be a ripple effect in the community and that people will examine themselves where they are and what they need to be doing," said Harris. "I'd like everyone to be able to hear his testimony."
Many people may argue McCormack's story is medically impossible but Harris believes the evangelist lives his life in humble service to others.
"There's no doubt in my mind this actually happened," said Harris. "He's the real deal, he had a real encounter, and he has a real concern for people. He no longer lives for this world. He lives for eternity."