written by Stace Massengill
During the past year or so, we’ve had two or three bass players on stage during our worship services. This week, our main bassist (Mitch Phillips) was out of town. Occasional stand-in, Dionne “Gideon” Oliver, had another commitment. We were looking at the possibility of being without a bass player at all, and that’s when I turned to my brother and – almost jokingly – asked if he was ready to play.
On October 21, 2018, while on stage playing bass guitar, my brother (Stan Massengill) was not feeling well at all. He’d been having some dizziness and symptoms of vertigo. Being the kind of guy who never wanted to let the praise team down, he decided to go ahead and play that Sunday morning anyway. He sat in a chair rather than stand as usual since he was feeling bad. What we didn’t realize at the time… Stan was about to have a major stroke.
He finished the worship set with us and very slowly and carefully made his way off the stage. After the service, I found him sitting in our office at the church. He was obviously not well, but we still didn’t know yet what was happening. It wasn’t until later that afternoon/evening that we finally went to the hospital.
By the time night fell, it became clear that this was not a simple case of vertigo. Stan had a major bilateral stroke that caused him to lose the use of his left side completely, and his right side was noticeably impaired. This was a catastrophic life-altering event, and his life would not be the same for the foreseeable future.
Rehab and Setback
Never in my life have I seen anyone so determined to regain what he’d lost. My amazing brother utilized every means of help available, working hard over the next several weeks to recover. He showed huge improvement within a short period of time, and even his therapists were impressed. The weeks turned into months, but he kept getting better in every way. Family and friends were all very excited for him.
Then, six months into his recovery, Stan hit another big bump in the road. A peculiar sensation in his chest prompted another visit to the ER. We soon learned what the likely reason was for his stroke – he had severe arterial blockages and required open-heart surgery.
This would be a huge blow to most people. But I watched Stan take the news almost in stride, and he simply resigned himself to the fact that it had to be done. It was certainly disappointing, knowing that such a major surgery would cause him to lose much of the ground he had just regained. But he faced it like a champ, with faith as big as any I’ve ever seen.
So MORE rehab, MORE time, and MORE hard work at recovery was in Stan’s future. Though there were a few moments of frustration, he never gave up. Once he was able, he would occasionally pick up his bass guitar and try to play a little. It was great therapy for the fingers on his left hand, as that was where he still struggled most.
So, I asked him with a grin, “You wanna play bass this Sunday?” Stan smiled and replied, “I can certainly try.” The time came, and we began to rehearse with the rest of the band. I have so many responsibilities on Sunday mornings that the reality of what was happening didn’t hit me until during the worship service. There he was… My brother… On stage playing bass again… For the first time in more than a year!
People, we serve and incredibly awesome God. He deserves all the praise, and Stan would be the first to agree. THANK YOU, JESUS!