YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Most church services have been disrupted by COVID-19, but one Boardman church had a huge setback. Its pastor caught the coronavirus and had quite the fight. On Wednesday, he was able to see his church family for the first time in a long time.
Faith Fellowship Church of God welcomed home Pastor Jonathan Mitchell. They saw a new man.
“I’m a different man. COVID gave me curly, wavy hair,” Mitchell said.
He was released Wednesday morning — his 100th consecutive day in the hospital.
Mitchell was told they were stopping by the church to pick up mail. He wasn’t expecting to see anyone.
“My goodness, my heart is overwhelmed. We love you, we love you. My heart is overwhelmed with joy,” he said.
Mitchell’s COVID-19 story includes being in the intensive care unit for 30 days and on a respirator for another 30. He woke up in surgery once, pulling out a tube.
“A nurse come to me and said they lost me two times. Said they called me the miracle man.”
He couldn’t walk, swallow or talk for a while. He even went 28 days without solid food.
Mitchell lost hope at one point but said God reminded him of the first commandment.
“‘Have you loved me today?'”
Mitchell said that’s when hope returned.
He can eat and talk again. The other day, he took 150 steps. Now he’s out of the hospital and seeing so many loving faces.
“He’s a wonderful man and we’ve really missed him,” Tillie Woodward said.
“What kind of grit that he has, and bound and determined to get through this,” Ken Phillips said.
Pastor Mitchell did. He survived a heart attack, too.
His 69th birthday was two weeks ago while he was in the hospital. He can’t wait to get back and preach.
“My church, look at ’em. I taught ’em to love for five years. Look at ’em. They’re lovers.”
Pastor Mitchell expects to be back at the pulpit and preaching July 26. He said it will be a sermon to rock the boat.