On October 26, 2012, Brusly native Renee Murdoch, a Christian missionary in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was brutally attacked while exercising along the city’s Barra beach, and nearly beaten to death by a homeless man.
Last week Murdoch and her husband, Philip, traveled back to America to share their story of faith and healing – as Renee has made a miraculous recovery from her injuries, which occurred less than five months ago.
A comatose Renee was rushed to the city’s municipal hospital on that fateful day in October. According to reports, doctors found that she had a severe brain injury based on the Glasgow Coma Scale.
“I was beat up. He broke my skull. I don’t remember seeing the guy, even. I don’t remember anything,” Renee said while sitting on her mother’s living room couch in Brusly Friday afternoon.
According to a study from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is a reliable and universally comparable way of recording the conscious state of a person. Three types of response are measured - motor response, verbal response and eye opening - and added together to give an overall score. The lower the score the lower the patient's conscious state.
The lowest possible score on the scale is 3, where there is no response to pain, no verbalization and no eye opening.
A score of 15 is the highest score on the scale. Renee said that her response levels were a 5 on the Glasgow Coma Scale.
“The doctors had all told my husband, ‘there’s a 90 percent chance, if she lives, she’ll be a vegetable. She won’t be able to function normally,’” she said.
As pastor and director of Light to the Nations, a Christian church-planting organization, Philip Murdoch began to post updates of his wife’s condition while she was in the hospital. In the videos he solicited prayers from all willing people and kept viewers updated on her recovery progression.
“Literally, the entire world was praying for me. I found out in the last few days, Australia was praying for me. China was praying for me. Thailand. There were people everywhere praying for me,” Renee said. “There’s no doubt within me that I am a miracle and that God put me back together and He has a purpose in all this.”
Renee says she fully believes that the prayers of the people around the world, and the faith of so many, are what saved her life.
She said that everything her husband prayed for, and asked others to pray for, occurred soon after the prayers.
“(My husband prayed) “Open her eyes and the next day I opened my eyes,” she said.
Philip’s ultimate prayer in each of the videos was for his wife to make a full recovery – a prayer that is daily being answered.
Renee explained that doctors told her that she had slight issues with a few parts of her brain near the frontal lobe dealing with her ability to make conscious decisions with forethought and dealing with speech.
She said, though, that she hasn’t noticed any significant problems.
“It’s perfect. I’ve had tests, memorization tests and speech tests and… a lot of tests,” she said. “I preached to a group of women for an hour and a half in Portuguese and they said it was fine.
“My neurologist said that based on what he saw, that my brain has the capacity to learn anything that was not there or that had gotten forgotten or anything.”
Renee was discharged from the hospital on November 22, 2012.
She said that what she remembered most about being in the hospital was simply the desire to go home to be with her family – her husband and four children.
She said that once she got home and began her recuperation process, she asked each of her children, individually, how her hospitalization affected them.
“Every single one of them told me they never doubted that I was going to be back to normal,” she said. “I had to relearn a lot of things. So they saw the weaknesses and everything, but they said, ‘Mom, we never doubted that you were going to be back to normal.’ I just think that’s amazing.”
“I asked them, ‘How in the world did you do that? How did you maintain that kind of faith?’ Because they came to see me in the hospital. They saw me at my worst.”
She said that her children responded to her queries, saying that their dad and grandparents constantly talked about how she would be healed.
“They just heard words of faith from everywhere,” she said.
She said that in her most recent check up in Brazil with the head neurologist, the doctor told her that her brain merely had a bit of bruising, which should heal within six months.
“I’m totally normal. I mean… I am walking and talking,” she said. “Since the day I left the hospital, I was giving glory to God. I just couldn’t help it. It’s just all in me that this was totally God.”