ATLANTA (BP) -- Southern Baptist Bible teacher Henry Blackaby will undergo quadruple bypass surgery Tuesday (Sept. 24) after suffering a heart attack while driving in Atlanta, becoming confused and traveling for 29 hours before police found him Sept. 20 in Tifton, Ga., 150 miles southeast of his home.
"He has from 70% to 100% blockage," the Blackaby family said in a statement posted on the Blackaby Ministries International website Sept. 23. "The doctor also says one area is not functioning and might have been damaged by an undetected heart attack as much as five years ago. It is amazing how God has preserved Henry and enabled him to continue ministering with his heart functioning far below what it should be."
The statement requested prayer "for a successful procedure" and for "new energy and clarity to serve the Lord for many years to come." It also spoke of God's "watch care over Henry."
"If he had not experienced this recent heart attack, doctors might not have been alerted to his condition," the statement said.
"He has been empowered by God," Blackaby's son Richard said Monday on Twitter of his father's perseverance in ministry. The previous day, Richard Blackaby tweeted, "He's in good spirits, joking with staff."
Blackaby, 78, had been missing since Thursday, Sept. 19, around 4 p.m. from his home in Rex, Ga., in metro Atlanta. He was on his way to pick up his wife Marilynn from an appointment when he suffered the heart attack and became disoriented, according to a statement posted Saturday on the Blackaby Ministries International website.
"He did not have his cell phone with him nor insulin for his diabetes," the statement said. "As a result, his blood sugar rose and his kidneys began to struggle as well. The family was able to track his movements as he used a credit card to make occasional purchases. The police assigned a detective group to monitor his movements and to track him down. Hundreds of volunteers, many from his church at First Baptist Church Jonesboro, GA drove all over the city looking for him."
The statement added, "It is clear that God heard and answered the prayers of His people! Thank you to everyone who prayed and helped in the search."
An earlier statement posted on the Blackaby Ministries International Facebook page Friday around 9 p.m. announced that Blackaby had been found.
"The Blackaby family would like everyone to know that Henry has been found and is safe," the statement said. "His health concerns are being addressed and we will keep everyone posted with the news. We wish to express to everyone our appreciation and gratitude for the prayers and concern over the last 29 hours. Henry has taught us that we can experience God in the good and the bad times. We thank God that we have experienced his grace, peace, and faithfulness in these times."
Blackaby's credit card purchases indicated that he was six miles from his home by mid-morning Friday and in Perry, Ga., 90 miles southeast of his home around 5:30 p.m., Richard Blackaby's tweets said.
On Friday morning around 8, Richard Blackaby first disclosed that his father was missing via Twitter, stating, "Please pray. Henry Blackaby has been missing since 4 p.m. Thursday. He is in black Lincoln without his diabetic medicine in Atlanta area."
At the website of Blackaby Ministries International, a notice stated: "Henry Blackaby's family deeply appreciates the outpouring of prayers and support people have shown as they have sought to locate Henry. He was last seen at 4 p.m. Thursday and has not been seen since. He is a Type 2 diabetic and may be disoriented and unable to find his way home. Please pray for the volunteers who are searching for him and for his wife Marilynn and family who are trusting the Lord for his safe return."
Prayers for Blackaby were circulated by various Southern Baptist leaders and over the PrayerLink network of Baptist workers who lead intercessory prayer initiatives. And a report of his disappearance has been on local TV in the Atlanta area.
Blackaby is best known for the "Experiencing God" Bible study he coauthored with Claude King. The discipleship resource, first published in 1990, has sold more than 7 million copies in 45 languages. Blackaby is retired from the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board but has continued to lead prayer and spiritual awakening conferences internationally. His ministry began as a pastor in his native Canada. He later became president of the forerunners of the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary and College and the Canadian National Baptist Convention.
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston and David Roach, a writer in Shelbyville, Ky. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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