Scars from the Korean War

Posted Apr 07, 2022

Scars from the Korean War

Derry James-Tannariello

This article will appear in the April 2022 issue of FOCUS. Dr. James-Tannariello will be one of the plenary speakers for our 2022 National Conference. To register, go to

Below is the story of very sick man who needed God. Once he realized that God was there for him, healing happened. You can find this story and others like it in my book With Gladness Every Day. May you be inspired as you are reminded that God is always by your side ready to anoint you and use you for His service in helping, healing and encouraging others. 

If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life. (1 John 5:16)

It had been a difficult day. I was still at the hospital, tired and ready to go home. In fact, I was looking forward to a relaxing shower. After that, my agenda was bed with a book. I needed to unwind from the day and refresh in the Lord before going to sleep.

I had just locked up my file cabinets and had grabbed my car keys when the phone rang. I looked at my watch. It was 10:30pm. I debated, knowing I should have left work long before, then picked up the phone. “Derry, thank God you’re still here! We have a patient on 2 South asking for a chaplain. We can’t get this man to stop crying. We have no idea what is wrong. He has a heart condition and is expected to be here about four days. Death is not imminent. Can you please come see him?”

I put away my keys, picked up my Bible, and began praying. As I walked upstairs to the patient’s room I prayed all the way; asking for wisdom, the right words and God’s intervention. “Father, I prayed this morning that I would put others before myself and be more concerned about their needs than my own; now please give me words of wisdom to help this man. Again I claim the promise in Isaiah 50:4, that You will give me the tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.

As I entered his room, he looked at me in anger (I think he was expecting a male chaplain). He gruffly spit out the question, “Have you ever been in a war?”

I took my time pulling up a chair to the side of his bed. Praying for the right answer, I said, “Sometimes I think every day of life can be like a war.”

He melted and began to cry. I took his hand. He said, “I don’t know what to do. I was in the Korean War in 1952 and I killed a man. He was just a young boy. I could have taken his gun away from him, but I didn’t. I killed him. I haven’t slept through the night since then. I have had night terrors every night. I can’t go on like this. I have been to counseling, to support groups, to my priest. He told me I was forgiven and to go and sin no more. Nothing has helped. I can’t live this way any longer.”

While he was talking, I was praying. In my heart I thought, Lord if he has been to all those places for help, what can I say or do? Please help me help him. God directed me to the Bible on his bedside table. I picked it up and read from 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Then I said, “God’s word (Psalm 103:12 NLT) also tells us He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west and (Isaiah 1:18) Come now, and let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow. Maybe what you need to do is ask God to forgive you for not believing Him.

“That’s it!” he responded. After we had talked about that for a few minutes, he said, “Yes, I think I do. But I don’t know how to pray. Will you help me?”

I told him, “Sometimes when my patients don’t know how to pray, I will pray first and they will repeat after me if they agree with what I pray. Would you like to do that?”

“Yes,” he replied. He closed his eyes with his hand tightly holding mine; so tight, our knuckles were white.

I began to pray and then waited. Nothing. I prayed some more and still no response. I opened my eyes and looked at him. His head was pushed hard against his pillow. His lips were pressed tightly together. He was stiff and stretched out. I stopped praying and waited for his response. Nothing. I asked him if I could just pray boldly for him. Again he agreed.

We had already been sharing about the war in heaven, and then on earth, between Christ and satan. It looked like the war was on in this room. I began interceding on his behalf. I prayed he would be released from the bondage he was under and that Jesus would set him free. I prayed  forgiveness for him. I asked for the infilling of the Holy Spirit and for healing of mind, body, soul and spirit. I felt his hand begin to relax in mine. I concluded the prayer and looked at him. His whole countenance had changed. He said, “Something has happened. I have never felt this way before.”

“Good. Now let’s pray.”

So I led him in prayer. He repeated my words and confirmed his agreement. After prayer he appeared to be glowing. He smiled in contentment and said, “I hope I can sleep tonight.”

I squeezed his hand. “You will sleep tonight. I will come see you tomorrow. How long are you supposed to be in the hospital?”

“Four days,” he responded.

“Okay, get a good night’s sleep and I will check in on you sometime during the day.”

The next day when I went into his room he was beaming. Smiling from ear to ear, he said, “I slept all night for the first time in over 50 years. Thank you, thank you.”

I was thrilled for him and so grateful to our Lord and Savior. I promised to visit him again.

Later that afternoon my pager went off. I was being called to his room. As I hurried down the hallway I cried out to God, “Please no, Lord. Don’t take his life. He has just been healed from a lifetime of bondage.”

When I walked into the room, he was sitting up in the chair putting on his shoes. His wife was all but doing a little jig around him, she was so happy. “What gives?” I asked.

“I’m going home. The doctor came in and said, “I don’t know what you’re doing here. There’s nothing wrong with you. You can go home.”

I left his room, jubilant. Praise God. He did heal him, body, mind, soul and spirit.

Bill had been in and out of the hospital rather frequently prior to this stay, but once he dealt with his forgiveness issues he hasn’t been back since.

That evening I reminisced about the day and asked myself several questions: “What if I hadn’t stayed that night? What if I hadn’t answered the phone? What if I had put my own comfort or needs first? There was a time when I might have just let the phone ring. What if I didn’t know how to intercede for others? What if I had been so self-absorbed in my own pain, I had lost my ability to think about or notice the needs of others? How could I have helped Bill that night?

Men and women all over the world are in need of healing; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual and in need of accepting the gift of God’s forgiveness. We are given the opportunity to be God’s hands and mouthpiece.

You are My witnesses, says the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen; That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. This people have I formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise. (Isaiah 43:10, 21)

God is longing for us to work with Him for His people. It is our privilege and honor that we have been entrusted with this responsibility. He could have the angels do this work, but He has chosen to include us. “Even every one that is called by My name: for I have created him for My glory.” (Isaiah 43:7 KJV)

Father, I had no clue as to what I was going to say and how I could ever help this patient. Thank You that when You call, You enable, for giving me the words to penetrate Bill’s heart, and for the Holy Spirit healing his soul and spirit. Thank You for helping him to understand You are a God of love Who truly forgives and redeems. I am in awe when You allow me to witness miracles like today—seeing lives changed and set free. Thank You for trusting me to be in service for You. 

Dr. Derry James-Tannariello will be one of the keynote speakers at the 2022 CMDA Canada National Conference. To register for the Conference, go to