It all started with a plate of spaghetti. When Johnny Foster sat down for dinner one night in March, he never imagined that his world would be turned upside down. After a miserable night of pain and labored breathing, he and his wife Linda went to the emergency room at Kingwood Hospital. The news was not good.
Doctors told Johnny that a hiatal hernia was pushing against his heart and lungs and would require immediate surgery. “They said that they needed to remove my stomach and part of my esophagus and small intestine,” he says. After several hours of surgery under heavy sedation, Linda received a terrifying update. “They told my wife that my vital signs had plummeted and they couldn’t finish the surgery or even close me back up. Basically they just had to hope and pray that my vitals would bounce back, but it didn’t look good.” Everyone but Johnny knew that short of a miracle, he wasn’t going to make it.
Unconscious and on the verge of death, Johnny couldn’t know that his family and friends immediately began praying, and asking others to pray as well. The Lone Star Cowboy Church community responded in spectacular fashion. Meanwhile, the doctors were working hard to keep Johnny alive, dealing with everything from sepsis to a bad prognosis. He needed a specialist, but he couldn’t be moved to St. Lukes for the procedure, so his medical team got creative. With a world-renowned gastroenterology specialist from St. Luke’s supervising via zoom - the surgeons pulled out all the stops to successfully complete the surgery.
But he still had a long road ahead, having such a traumatic and major procedure had devastating effects on his physical recovery and required lots of rehab. Johnny wouldn’t be rocking the keyboards for a while.
The Power of Prayer
Needless to say, congregants and online viewers alike took notice when Johnny’s seat on stage sat empty. The church began getting a flood of messages asking where their beloved keyboardist had gone; and when word spread that he was in the hospital fighting for his life, people all over the world immediately appealed to God for his healing. “A lot of it happened while I was under sedation, so my wife had to tell me afterward. But I had a friend who visited me when I woke up who said, ‘Johnny people all over the world are praying for you right now.’”
“I believed it because I could feel it. My wife could feel it. Even the doctors were floored at the miracle that God had done in my body,” he says. It’s truly a humbling experience for the Fosters. His wife was overwhelmed in the initial days with the amount of prayer and support they received from people they’ve never met. In rehab, he had to learn how to walk again and get the spring in his step back. “I mean I don’t act my age, but even these young people were amazed at how quickly I was improving, but it wasn’t me - it was all God.” In every twist and turn of his journey, Johnny glorified God and turned every person he met back to Jesus Christ. “None of this is about my abilities, every single step of the way it was God healing me and the doctors and people praying for me.”
The Right Place at the Right Time
Johnny believes with all his heart is that there is no such thing as an accident. “I went to a cowboy church in spring back in the 90’s and Pastor Randy wasn't even a pastor yet. He used to come to their ropings. And when he started this in the year 2000 a friend said, ‘come jam with us in this tent,’ and we just had so much fun. Pastor Randy was playing the bass.” And the rest is history. In his time here, Johnny and his wife have seen the love and charity that surround them, and it played a huge part in his recovery. But in everything, Johnny wants people to know that God is a God who answers prayers, and that He is always present.
One thing that he has learned from this experience is that sometimes God speaks to us through our loved ones, our friends, even our doctors. “My wife had been telling me for years that I needed to get my over-eating in check, and the doctors, too,” he says. Johnny realized during his rehab that all those times, God was speaking to him, telling him to take his health seriously. He realized that he had not been listening to God and not fully giving him that aspect of his life. But one day Johnny heard God speak clearly, “It doesn’t matter what you do or how many mistakes you make, I’m going to love you.”
And so he has a message for people who struggle with similar problems, “For all the people that struggle with high blood pressure, over-eating, hernias…just listen to the doctors and loved ones. Take care of your body. God reaches out to you through them, and He saved my life, but you have a chance right now to avoid what I went through.” Through all of this, Johnny and his family want anyone who hears his story to glorify God and believe in the power of prayer.
A New Start and Lessons Learned And as for his healing? Johnny says that he’s a new man. “My knees don’t hurt anymore, I can breathe better, my blood pressure is better.” His love for music is something he feels fortunate to have. “My dad wanted me to be a mechanic but once he saw the way I loved the keyboards he told me to be the best musician I can possibly be. It doesn’t matter what your gifts are, it doesn’t matter where you serve…whatever you’re doing, do it to the very best of your ability,” he says.
And that’s exactly what he plans to do. “Through your combined prayers, God has done a mighty work in our lives and we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts.” You can find Johnny right where he wants to be on keyboards every Sunday and Monday night. “I get to keep doing what I love with a new body,” he says. All glory to God.
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