Christian singer and worship leader Charles Billingsley is crediting the grace of God for healing him from the coronavirus and for keeping his family healthy after a three-week ordeal that saw him face possible death.
“My doctor told me … ‘If you weren't in half decent shape you'd be dead,’” Billingsley told the Rick and Bubba radio show this week.
All total, his bout with the coronavirus lasted 24 days. He began feeling symptoms the evening of March 27, the same night he enjoyed an anniversary dinner with his wife. Thinking it was only a low-grade fever, he golfed the next day and took part in online church services Sunday, March 29. By that night, his fever had risen.
He isolated himself. For the next week, his fever was around 102-103 degrees.
“And somehow, someway, by the grace of God, my family stayed negative the entire time,” Billingsley said.
But Billingsley was far from healthy. In fact, his condition grew worse after that first week, and he was admitted to the hospital.
“My blood work and stuff was just off the charts,” he said. “... This is a cruel, cruel virus. It attacks you neurologically and physically.”
He spent two nights in the hospital. On his final day, he said the doctor told him, “Your blood work [is] actually worse today than it was yesterday.” She gave him the option of leaving and going home but warned him his lungs might shut down. If that happens, “You won't get back here … you’ll die,” Billingsley recalls her saying.
He told the doctor: “I think I'm willing to take that chance”
“I came home and just prayed for a miracle,” he told Rick and Bubba.
He benefited from having oxygen therapy at home. A few days later, he finally recovered.
“I never had to go on a ventilator. I've never had to … go through all those steps that so many other people have had to go through,” Billingsley said.
The battle with the coronavirus has changed his outlook on life, he said.
"It was a real wake-up call for me – just how grateful I am for life. ... But also just how important it is to get exercise and be in shape and ... just do the things you need to do. Because you never know when something like this is going to hit you. … I hadn't had a cold in three years.
“... I've learned a lot of lessons and I'm just so grateful to be coming out on the other side.”
Billingsley is a teaching pastor at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., and an adjunct professor at Liberty University’s Center for Music and Worship. He just released his latest album, I Was Made for This.
Photo courtesy: Charles Billingsley Facebook
Video courtesy: Rick & Bubba
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.