“When I need somebody prayed for, I call Leslie. When she prays, God listens.” —Pastor Reginald Richardson
Leslie Hubbard is the mother of five children from 27 to 4 years of age. She is a mother who prays for the well-being of those children, a prayer warrior who prays with faith that her prayers will be answered. Even when her son Deonta McFerson, Jr., was dying on the emergency room bed, she sensed that God had a plan for her boy and so prayed for him to be healed. She prayed all day, every day, praying with every breath for him to get better. She knew God would heal him.
Mother Leslie has a unique approach to prayer, talking with God person-to-person with complete surrender to the outcome, yet with an earnest belief that God can change things.
Deonta was 25 years old, years that had included deep mental and physical abuse, traumas that haunted him for years, making life unbearable. By this day, December 10, 2020, the traumas had driven him into such dark despair and depression that he simply couldn’t handle it anymore. On that Thursday night he parked his car, pulled out a pistol, pointed it at his head, and put a bullet into his brain.
“I showed up at the hospital as his pastor,” says Pastor Richardson, “even though I hadn’t seen much of him around church. His mother had called for me, and I came to support her and help her make the hard decisions. He was, the doctors said, going to die.”
There was still blood everywhere, and while Pastor Richardson, Mother Leslie, and the family were standing at Deonta’s bedside, the doctors came in and told them that Deonta was not going to make it out of this event alive.
* * *
Several long days later a new doctor came into Deonta’s room. He listened to Mother Leslie and carefully explained what was happening to her son. He was very kind as he explained that it was unlikely Deonta was going to make it out of this event alive.
“He shattered his skull,” the doctor said. “Although his brain stem seems not to have been damaged, his brain is swelling at an alarming rate and may soon crush the brain stem. When that happens, he will die.”
“What can you do to help him?” Mother Leslie asked.
“We could do surgery and remove the bullet fragments from his brain. That could stop the swelling and make it possible for him to live. However, if he were to survive, we do not know what he might be like. Though he may live, he may never be able to walk or speak again.”
“I just want my son to be well, 100 percent better than before and strong in his faith,” Mother Leslie responded. “I know that’s what God wants too. Please, do the surgery. God will do the rest. Deonta must be well, totally well.”
“I listened to her strong belief,” says Pastor Richardson, “and then accepted her desire, the start-to-finish yearning she had for her son, and her love became the theme of our prayers.”
“Whatever demons were with him on December 10 will be cast out. One of these days Deonta will come right into the church. You watch for that day, Pastor,” Mother Leslie told him.
Others also felt the power and believed. Deonta’s teenage brother, David, was filled with the same faith. When Pastor Richardson asked David how he would feel if God did not bring Deonta back from death, David’s answer was quick and strong. “I would still love God anyway, even if Deonta dies. But I want him back. Totally well.”
“It was a difficult situation,” says Pastor Richardson. “It looked as though Deonta’s life was over. Yet, as Leslie’s pastor, I shared the challenges with the church, and we chose to come alongside her together in faith.”
* * *
The doctors listened to Mother Leslie, performed the incredibly difficult surgery, and removed the bullet fragments from Deonta’s brain. Deonta did not die, but improved enough to be transferred to a skilled nursing facility. Mother Leslie continued talking with God about her son, believing that God was performing a healing.
One day, as Mother Leslie was standing at Deonta’s bedside, she noticed his eyes seemed more alert. He seemed to be looking around the room, as though he was noticing things.
Another day he stuck out his tongue and responded to the sound of his mother’s voice. Then he started to babble—not words or sentences, but sounds. Then the full miracle of Mother Leslie’s prayers took hold. Deonta began moving his head purposefully and speaking clearly.
Everyone heard Mother Leslie’s shouts of joy!
* * *
When Mother Leslie was finally able to take Deonta home, one of the first things he did was ask for help in studying the Bible. One of the church members, Noah Keller, came over and began studying with him. Then, on a Sabbath in July of 2021, Deonta said he wanted to go to church.
“He was in a wheelchair,” Pastor Richardson says. “He was still a little wobbly, but I saw him come through the front door, just as his mother said I would. After that he came often, listened eagerly, and participated in worship.”
On a Sabbath in September, Deonta raised his hand when Pastor Richardson made an appeal for baptism. “I want to be baptized,” he declared loudly for all to hear.
January 1, 2022, was the day Deonta and his brother David chose to be baptized. Mother Leslie decided to reaffirm her commitment to God and be rebaptized at the same time. They came into church together, verbally confirmed that each had accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior, and were baptized in the church’s new baptistry.
Hear Pastor Richardson remember that special day.
“I cannot adequately describe my immense feelings of excitement, humility, honor, and joy at seeing Deonta walk into the baptismal tank that Sabbath morning. I stood, warm from the love of Jesus glowing in Deonta’s eyes, remembering the night in the emergency room. That was a cold day. Very cold and very dark. Ominous. Sad. All hope ripped away. But on this Sabbath everything had changed! Mother Leslie’s prayers had been answered. I reached out and clasped her hands. God had chased the demons away. The cold was gone. Hope had returned. Joy filled the room. Deonta was Alive. Alert. Deonta had come home!”
“He’s on the road to full recovery,” Mother Leslie smiles. “Staying the course with Jesus.”