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Angell Vasko and Donna Watts
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Trusting God Despite Tragedy

By Angell Vasko
Staff Writer

CBN.comAfter ten long years of suffering, my mother, Donna Watts, passed away suddenly on New Year’s Eve.  You may ask yourself how I can use “suddenly” to describe her death when she suffered for ten years.  Mom suffered with various physical issues for a decade, but I didn’t think any of them were “unto death”.

We did everything we knew to do during those long tedious years: We prayed, confessed, asked for forgiveness, asked God to forgive us for any root of bitterness in us…anything that would bring healing.  But it didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. 

I heard about everything you can imagine from fellow Christians on what would remedy the situation -- everything from taking special supplements to naming and claiming the Word of God over her.  And believe me, when you are watching someone you love suffer continually, you are desperate to try anything.  Mom and I tried everything together, with our whole hearts.  Things got worse. 

I understand spiritual battle and I felt like I was in the middle of one for sometime. When I got the phone call at approximately 10:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, I was scared, but also used to getting “those” kinds of calls from the hospital.  Mom had been on deaths door many times before and she had always pulled through.  So, honestly, I was frustrated more than anything--frustrated that she was suffering yet again and frustrated that I couldn’t fix it for her.  The doctor told me that mom was bleeding internally and they couldn’t get it to stop. 

“We are taking her in to do an endoscopy to see if there is blood in her abdomen.”  Then, they rushed her into emergency surgery.  I got dressed and ran out the door in an attempt to be with her and hold her.  My husband, Dustin, was afraid for me to be on the road on New Year’s Eve so he made me promise to be careful and call him as soon as I got into the hospital parking lot. 

When I arrived I called him and he was crying.  My heart sank…”What is wrong honey?”  “I’m so sorry, honey, she’s gone,” he said. Everything froze for a minute as I screamed out for my mom.  

Immediately, I hung up the phone and ran into the hospital still hoping I could get to her in time.  When I got to her, she wasn’t there anymore.  Her body was there and she was still warm with tubes out of her mouth and blood in her hair.  Mom was definitely gone.  The hospital tried to clean her up as best as they could, the trauma was apparent.  I held her, prayed for her and cried while a nurse held me.  The nurse was a Christian and prayed with me as I asked God to please receive mom into His kingdom. 

The days that followed were a blur.  I wanted to curl up in bed and hide but there was no time for that.  The hospital would only keep mom for a day, then the coroner/funeral home had to come get her.  My brother, Shawn, flew in from California with his wife Angie.  So, we all started making arrangements to bury mom.

I will be the first to be “real” about how I dealt with mom’s death.  Anyone that has lost someone knows you grieve in stages.  I am still grieving. I am progressing and I am not stuck in one stage. 

At first, I was disillusioned.  I was suffering the death of a vision.  I was sure that God would heal mom so she could get back to ministering.  Mom was a powerful minister.  She had an amazing prophetic anointing and I fell in love with God when I was a teenager helping her minister to people at the altar.  God always knew what people needed to hear when we didn’t know them at all.  That picture of a loving God always moved me and it still does. 

What do you do when your prayers are not answered the way you think that they should be?

That has been my struggle for the last ten years.  Some Christians expect a “sitcom” life—things are happy, a problem presents itself, you pray, and within thirty minutes the problem is solved.  Actually, wouldn’t it be great if that were reality?  But for most of us, it simply is not.  So, how transparent can I be?

I don’t want to be a Step-ford Christian and pretend that everything is always okay when it’s not.  And I think God is big enough to “get” that. 

Crying out to God was something I did regularly.  I begged Him to heal mom and I was consumed with it for years.  Mom has always been my best friend.  I lived with her until age 33 when I married.  We spoke every day and I saw her every other day.  So, when she wasn’t healed on this earth (she is healed now in heaven), I didn’t like it.

“What is the lesson here God?!”  I screamed.  “Do you want me to know that life is hard and that people suffer and then die!!!?”  “I get it!”

That was how I felt immediately after mom’s death.  Since that time, God has ministered to me with His love and by answering many prayers.

God can handle His people being candid with Him.  He knows our thoughts whether we put words to them or not.  But after a month or so the question that kept coming to me was: “What’s it going to be, Angell?  Are you going to pack up your toys and go home because you didn’t get your way?”  At first, I wanted to pout and say “Yes, I am”.  In time my answer was and still is “No, Lord.  Even though things didn’t turn out the way I expected…I love You”. 

If things are tough for you right now, can you say that?  In the midst of your suffering and in the midst of your disillusionment, can you say that you love Him anyway? 

Job declared, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him.”  (Job 13:15)

It is so easy to declare your love for someone when things are going smoothly but when things are difficult-- and not just for a little while but for a long while--then what? 

Measuring our spiritual walk or God’s love by how many of our prayers are answered isn’t realistic.  But it sure is nice to have as many prayers answered as possible.  The prayer should be “Nevertheless Lord, let thy will be done”. 

I still have so many questions and I have so much to learn.  But in my heart of hearts, I just want to run into daddy’s arms and have Him hold me.  I want to have a pure heart.  I want to have a simplistic faith again.  Most of all, I want my first love, Christ, to know that I still love Him whole heartedly.
I know that mom is healthy and happier than she has ever been.

Even though that which I feared has come upon me—losing my mom and best friend --God is still here comforting me.  The Bible says that “to live is Christ but to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).  I cannot fathom the joys of heaven but it gives me so much comfort to know that Mom is with God. 

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Angell Vasko joined CBN in 1999 in the public relations department.  She was the   Manager of CBN Public Relations and Press Secretary to Pat Robertson until she transferred to The 700 Club department in 2008 after the birth of her daughter.

Angell has also spoken at various workshops and luncheons. Some of which were hosted by Hampton Roads Black Media Professionals and Public Relations Society of America.
For more than thirteen years, Angell was an associate minister with her mother, the Rev. Donna Watts—Founder and President of Heart Cry Ministries.

Angell resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband Dustin and daughter Makala.

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