I’m alive today because the church prayed
Chelsea Taylor is quite literally a walking miracle
It started like an ordinary Sunday – August 18, 2019. 31-year-old Chelsea Taylor was scheduled to lead worship for the 8am service at Hillsong’s Hills campus in north-west Sydney, as she often did. Although she remembers “feeling a bit funny” when she woke up that morning, there were no other warning signs of the life-changing event that was about to unravel.
“We did a rehearsal and all was fine, and then worship started. I think it was the second song in when it felt like this massive explosion went off in my head. I couldn’t breathe and I was struggling to sing. I had to close my eyes,” Chelsea tells Eternity.
As a well-seasoned worship team member, having led singing for the past 18 years, Chelsea carried on and even managed to lead the next song.
“I had no idea what my body was doing, but I just kept deeply breathing and praying in the Spirit under my breath,” she recalls.
“We made it through to the end of the worship set. And after the fourth song, when they started to do announcements, I just quickly and quietly walked off to the side of the stage and said to one of the sound crew, ‘Can you please get me a paramedic?’”
A friend from church drove Chelsea and her mum to the local medical centre, with Chelsea vomiting all the way. The doctor diagnosed a migraine and, after giving some pain relief, told her to go home and try to sleep it off.
Chelsea, who survived cancer as a 14-year-old, says, “I’m not one to dramatise things, probably because I worked in aged care for so many years and also I, sadly, watched my dad pass away from cancer as a little girl. So if it’s not really bad, then [I think] let’s just soldier through.”
But an hour later, Chelsea found herself sitting on her bathroom floor with one thought going through her head: “I think I’m dying.”
“I started telling the Lord all the reasons why I couldn’t die: I’ve got too many dreams. I’m 31 and single and I’ve planned my wedding, so I can’t die! I’ve still got work to do here on the earth.”
As Chelsea stood up to go back to bed, she blacked out, hitting her head on the edge of the bathtub on her way down.
When Chelsea woke up – 27 days later – she was in Westmead Hospital, near Parramatta.
“I woke up thinking that I’d been on holidays in Brazil!” she giggles.
Her face now serious, she adds: “Everything that I don’t remember would have been the most excruciatingly painful part of that season. And I just think that is God being so good to me.”
For Chelsea’s family and friends, however, those 27 days felt like a spiritual battle, where Chelsea’s life was at stake.
When Chelsea collapsed in her bathroom that day, fortunately her sister Chloé was downstairs in her house and she rang an ambulance. On the way to hospital, the paramedics ran some tests and realised the gravity of Chelsea’s situation: she had suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm, which caused bleeding into her brain.
Chelsea’s mum Zella – who she describes as “a woman of faith” – met the ambulance at the hospital, and later told Chelsea “she just leaned over me and said ‘Chelsea Lee Taylor, you will not die, but you will live. And you will declare the works of the Lord. No weapon formed against you will prosper.’”
While Chelsea says the faith of her mum and sister “never wavered”, it was, of course, a very trying time for them.
“The prognosis that the doctors were giving my mum was pretty grim,” says Chelsea. “Before the first [surgery] they said to her, ‘Look, we need to be honest with you. If she survives, it’s very likely she will be 80 per cent paralysed down her left-hand side.’
“My mum kept saying no to the doctor [about this prognosis]. So the surgeon said to her ‘I don’t think you understand what we’re saying to you.’ My mum just looked back at him and said, ‘I understand exactly what you’re saying, but we believe in miracles.’
Surgeons operated for nine gruelling hours before admitting Chelsea to ICU on life support. Another seven surgeries followed in the ensuing days.
“That’s what [Mum] just kept declaring the whole way along – that God is a God of miracles and nothing is impossible for God,” says Chelsea.
“They were incredible. They made these signs that said ‘Miracles in motion, see a victory.’ They had them plastered all over the hospital walls and they played worship music and sang over me.”
Chelsea’s church community also rallied around her and her family. Following an Instagram post by Hillsong’s worship pastor Cass Langton, churches from all over Australia and around the world prayed for Chelsea and held prayer vigils for her healing.
“This is where I stand back and think to myself, I don’t know how people get by in life without a community of believers around them to hold up their arms when they can’t hold them up themselves,” Chelsea reflects.
“The kindness of my church in action is just absolutely flabbergasting.
“I was in hospital for a total of 37 days. Every night some of my friends from the Hillsong creative team would deliver meals to the hospital for my family …
“Not only that, but they also came and they prayed with [my family] and they stood with them in faith and brought them comfort and hope.”
Church members also moved Chelsea’s furniture when her landlord wanted to re-carpet her house while she was in hospital, and they even bought presents for the staff at Westmead when Chelsea eventually left hospital.
And when she did walk out of hospital, 37 days after being admitted, Chelsea says she became living proof that “miracles do happen.”
Over the ten days after waking up, she went through the painful process of learning to walk again and starting to heal from “having your skull cut open and your brain fiddled with”. And while she was still experiencing pain when she got home – and even today, over a year later – Chelsea says she also “felt so much peace and safety in seeing the hand of God.”
“Not only did I experience God’s presence, but it was also shown through the kindness and the actions of the church.”
When asked what lessons this amazing experience taught her, Chelsea says: “One thing that is just absolutely cemented within every fibre of my being now is that there really is nothing that God cannot do … I think the purpose in all of this pain would be to bring hope to people that God, still today, can work miracles.
“I see more clearly than ever that when the church of Jesus Christ comes together and cries out for something, God hears and miracles happen. I don’t remember it, but my family tell me the stories of the amount of churches that prayed for me, and that I am alive today because they cried out to God. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that nothing is impossible with God.”
Just as Eternity was about to publish this story, we received news from Chelsea that she had a brain seizure. Here’s her update about that event:
The night of the same day we did the interview, I had the first brain seizure I’ve ever had. The doctor told me the seizure was due to scar tissue on the brain, which was a result of the seven surgeries I had undergone 15 months earlier …
As I sat there listening to this doctor give me real medical facts, I felt the Holy Spirit asking me the question, “Chelsea what are you going to partner with, fear or faith?”
So yes, there may be a scar tissue on my brain, and I have started on a small dosage of medication to ensure I don’t have any more seizures anytime soon, but I absolutely do not believe I’ll be taking this medication for rest of my life.
I do believe the word of God is life. I believe what Hebrews 4:12 says that it is “alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.” I have already decided ahead of time that I’m going to read it, believe it, let it renew my mind and entirely heal the scar tissue on my brain, in Jesus’ mighty name.
I’m 32 now and have been singing in church for the past 18 years and I’m singing again for online church this Sunday.
Nothing is impossible for God. Tell the Church of Jesus Christ to not stop praying.
I hope this article will still instil faith and hope in your readers to believe that God is faithful and still can and does do miracles today – that they would not give up hope, but have faith and believe.