- Jennifer Evans of Coshocton is a member of Coshocton Christian Tabernacle, wife and mother of three.
- She had COVID-19 in September last year and was in a respirator and in a medically induced coma for 12 days.
- During her coma, her husband and father were both affected by the prayer of power, and the support from the local community was great.
- Jennifer believes that everything happens for a reason and she believes that God wants her to share her story with society.
COSHOCTON – Jennifer Evans has always been a churchgoer, but it was always someone else who brought her into the church. She would attend services Sunday morning and then go home.
But almost the death of COVID-19 has brought her and her family closer to God than ever before.
She knows that God saved her life so she has become more involved in the church and the community. As Easter is a time of rejuvenation and rebirth, Jennifer feels blessed with a new chance at life.
As a nurse, she understands how dangerous COVID-19 can be. She also knows that most people who go on a respirator for the disease rarely get off. She was placed on a respirator and in a medically-induced coma as a last resort. When she was unconscious of the world, family and friends prayed for her, and God touched her husband, Michael, and father, Bob Gibbons of Adamsville, in various ways related to her affliction.
Jennifer began attending church as a child through her uncle. When he stopped driving, the stroller still picked her up every Sunday. Then a friend of her mother took her to church. Jennifer had a friend whose father was a priest. Then it was her husband who was the link of the church. Still, it was just a place to go.
Today it is much more about her.
“God pulled me through all this, and it’s my duty to share my story,” Jennifer said. “I feel like everything happens for a reason. I do not know if this happened to bring my mother and father closer to God, so that I could be closer to God, my husband, to the church as a whole,” Jennifer said.
The 40-year-old Zanesville native previously lived in West Lafayette and has been in Coshocton for about seven years. She has been a member of the Coshocton Christian Tabernacle for 10 years. Jennifer and her husband have a son of 14 and two daughters of 9 and 11. Jennifer is a traveling nurse who goes to facilities in need of extra help so she was very busy during the pandemic. She was in three facilities hard hit by COVID-19.
“My husband said I was crazy. He said ‘usually nurses run out of those buildings and you run in.’ I was not afraid of COVID-19,” she said. “Those people still needed to be taken care of. I just felt like that was where I needed to be at the time.”
Oddly enough, it was not a job that resulted in Jennifer getting COVID-19 in September. Her son first tested positive, and then she started showing symptoms a few days later. Michael tested negative but also had symptoms. The girls tested negative.
For the first few days, she had no taste or smell, but worked around the house as usual.
‘I was fine. I thought I would make it, “she said.
On September 4, she went to the emergency room at Coshocton Regional Medical Center with a severe cough and fever. An X-ray of the thorax on September 6 showed that Jennifer had pneumonia on top of COVID-19, which may be common for those with coronavirus.
“I felt like I was hit by a bus,” Jennifer said.
On September 6, Jennifer was transported from her home by Coshocton County Emergency Medical Services to CRMC. She was then transported to Grant Medical Center in Columbus.
“Every time I sat up, I got blackout. I could not walk. I could not get up from my couch. I had a fever of 104 (degrees). At that time, it was bad,” she said.
Jennifer was with Grant for 37 days. On September 14, it was suggested that she should go on a respirator. It was not an easy decision for her to make.
“I fought for every breath. I fought, and I fought, and I fought. At that time, everyone who had COVID-19 and went on vents did not come off,” she said. “I was petrified of the vent. My husband was petrified of the vent. But I had fought so hard that I said to the doctor, ‘I can not do this anymore’.”
The power of prayer
Jennifer was in a medically-induced coma for 12 days while on the respirator. She was later told that there were times when it seemed like she would not make it. Due to pandemic protocols, Jennifer could only have one visitor a day, and it had to be the same person. As Michael took care of the children and pets, Jennifer’s father became a constant presence at her bedside.
“There were 72 hours, they thought I was dying. He prayed more in those 72 hours than he had in the last 58 years,” Jennifer said, Bob later told her.
Another story that was passed on to her was that her husband stopped at the store the day she went on a respirator. He was very desperate but had to pick up some things for the kids. A lady noticed it and asked if Michael was okay.
“He does not know this lady and just says yes, he is well. She tells him that he is not well and that God wants her to pray with him. So they step to a sidewalk and this stranger praying with my husband in the middle of Walmart, “Jennifer said. “My husband says it was like God sent him an angel and he felt everything would be okay.”
While at the hospital, members of the tabernacle made meals for Jennifer’s family, she was added to several prayer lists, and people showed up to cover her daughters’ lunches at Coshocton Christian School. Friends she had not spoken to for years reached out and offered help, which included donations so her children could get presents for Christmas. A nurse at the hospital said she has never seen a patient receive so many cards and letters.
“It’s just been a huge chain reaction with all the help,” Jennifer said. “All that for me and my family is hard to explain. I’m just me, I have not done anything special. It was hard to understand all that love and support.”
She admits that most people at the tabernacle did not know her name before her near-death experience. Pastor Mike Jansen invited Jennifer to share her story one Sunday morning, and the outpouring of love and support amazed her.
“That Sunday it was impossible to get out the doors. Everyone stopped me,” Jennifer said. “Then everyone knew my name. Everyone knew my story.”
Leonard Hayhurst is a community content coordinator and general news reporter for the Coshocton Tribune with close to 15 years of experience in local journalism and several awards from the Ohio Associated Press. He can be contacted at 740-295-3417 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @llhayhurst.