Without a new kidney, Jim Gutel faced certain death. But the waiting list for a donor organ was at least 10 years that the founding director of the Assemblies of God Southern California School of Ministry did not have.
With no hope left, Gutel experienced a miracle. He received a kidney transplant from a 16-year-old boy in Texas whose parents specifically requested the organ be donated to an AG minister.
Gutel, 66, who with his wife Karla, 63, are AG U.S. Missions Intercultural Ministries missionaries, learned three years ago at his annual physical that not only did he have prostate cancer, but kidney failure as well. Gutel felt fine when he entered the physician’s office.
“This was quite a shock to us,” Karla Gutel says. When her husband’s health began to deteriorate, she became the School of Ministry co-director. “The doctor told us he’d eventually need a kidney transplant.”
Yet to qualify for the transplant, Gutel would have to be cancer-free at least two years. And no family members could donate the organ. In 2015, as Gutel’s health began to fail, the family created a Facebook page to generate prayer support and spread the word of his need for a kidney.
Halfway across the country in Texas, on Nov. 21, 2015, Dylan Galila of Humble First Assembly sustained mortal wounds in an accidental shooting. Milton Pool, Humble First pastor, entered Dylan’s hospital room at the moment a hospital representative told his parents their son was brain dead. The medical official asked the parents if they wanted to donate his organs, and, if so, did they have someone in mind.
“I turned to my husband and said wouldn’t it be great if (Dylan’s organs could go to) a missionary or somebody who preached the gospel?” Cathy Galila, Dylan’s mom, recollects. “Then what Satan meant for evil, God could turn to good. In that way, Dylan would live on and would be giving the enemy a black eye.”
But she didn’t know anybody.
“Neither did I at the time,” Pool says. He returned to church, where he mentioned the family’s offer in a staff meeting.
Pool’s substitute assistant, Misty Scott, filling in for his secretary on vacation, had moved to Texas from California. Jim Gutel’s need for a kidney was on Scott’s prayer list.
While that set in motion events that landed Gutel at the top of the transplant list, it didn’t guarantee that Dylan’s kidney would be compatible. After tests, word came from a hospital worker: The two were a match.
“I just started weeping,” Galila says. The worker, who had 20 years’ experience with organ transplants, told her the perfection of the match was something he had never before seen.
Gutel received the kidney transplant on Nov. 25, 2015.
“The Lord told me when Dylan died he would be a grain of wheat that would fall to the ground and produce much grain,” Galila says. Not only did 45 of Dylan’s friends surrender their lives to Christ when his mom gave an altar call at his funeral, Gutel is once again training ministers.
“I feel great, like a new man,” Jim Gutel says. “It’s been such a miracle.”
Today, Carla Gutel has continued as lead administrator of the School of Ministry. The AG SoCal Network wants to expand the SOM to include continuing education for ministers. In addition, the school is launching a program for high school juniors and seniors.
With current protocols, the transplant surgeon told Gutel, he never would have been offered as healthy a kidney. Had the Galilas not bequeathed Gutel the kidney, the organ would have been reserved for a young person.
Meanwhile, Dylan’s heart, the second kidney, and three other major organs went to four people in nearby Houston.
“In some kind of way, Dylan still lives on,” Galila says. “Knowing that his life mattered with souls coming in just helps me go on.”
The Gutels and their two children went to Thailand in 1984 as Assemblies of God World missionaries from Southern California. In 1997, Karla's youngest brother and his wife, who lived in Rancho Cucamonga, California, died in a traffic accident.The Gutels returned to Southern California, and adopted the five children in Karla's brother’s family (then ages 10, 9, 7, 4, and 2). The Gutels transferred to U.S. Missions, and currently live in Santa Ana, California.
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