The resurrection of four-year-old Sarah Lyn: A father’s experience of the life-giving Word

Do miracles still happen today? This Christmas, Salt&Light brings you a series of stories of God's wondrous acts right here in Singapore.

Dr Philip Lyn // December 22, 2018, 1:00 pm

Philip Lyn Family

The Lyn family on Sarah's fourth birthday in 2002. From left to right: Andrew, Frances, Sarah, Nancy and Philip. All photos courtesy of Dr Philip Lyn.

August 26, 2002: This was the day the Lyn family’s life changed. At morning devotion, God dropped the words of Psalm 118:17 into my wife Nancy’s heart and mine.

It read: “I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord.” (Psalm 118:17)

This verse was to prove critical for us to pry open the doors of faith later in the day.

A rope, a noose

At 3.50pm, I was in my clinic and received an urgent call from my son, Andrew, who virtually shrieked into the phone: “Dad! Dad! Come quick, Sarah’s dying! She’s dying!”

Sarah was our four-year old daughter. After quickly ascertaining from Andrew where she was, I dashed out of the clinic and my nurse drove me to the house of Freida, the violin teacher.

For a moment, every bit of me wanted to throw myself on her and weep.

Apparently, Frieda had discovered Sarah lifeless and hanging from her neck by a nylon clothesline at the back of the house at around 3.45pm.

She had been playing with Freida’s three-year-old daughter, Magdalene, before and must have climbed up on a stool to play with a rope left dangling from the clothesline. She had probably gotten her head accidentally caught in the rope and, in panic, toppled the stool and strangulated. The rope had become her noose.

Magdalene tried to alert her mum who was in the house tutoring our 11-year-old son, Andrew, on the violin.

The little girl had limited vocabulary and so was unable to communicate the crisis to her mother.

She was shooed away only to return and yank her mum’s hand hard.

No breath

Valuable time had ticked by, in all probably six to seven minutes. Frieda finally sensed something amiss and walked to the backyard to check. To her horror, she found a lifeless Sarah hanging, like a rag doll, from the clothesline.

She screamed in horror.

When brought down, Sarah’s face was dark blue. She was motionless. There was no breath, nor pulse, nor heartbeat. The pupils of her eyes were fixed and dilated in the hot sun.

Sarah was clinically dead.

Frieda cried out to the Lord, shouted for her husband to come and help with CPR. That was when Andrew rang me.

After many minutes of desperate resuscitation effort, when hope was almost gone, Sarah suddenly choked and began struggling with some breaths.

There was life!

The promise

When I arrived, Sarah was still unconscious on the grass in the backyard of the house, a dark rope mark round her neck. Her face was dark blue and she had dark spots round her eyes. Her body was bathed in a cold sweat, and there was hardly any breath or discernible pulse.

Worst of all, I knew that the contorted posture of her body and limbs indicated severe brain damage.

For a moment, every bit of me wanted to throw myself on her and weep. I cried out to God and spoke directly to Sarah: “Sarah, you shall live, you shall not die! Jesus heals you and gives you life!”

Then I rebuked the spirit of death and continued CPR as best as I could.

The words the Lord gave us that morning were now a promise of flood-tide proportions.

As she stabilised, I scooped her into my arms and ran to the car. The ambulance hadn’t arrived yet so Frieda’s husband drove us to the hospital.

All along the seemingly unending journey to the medical centre, I cried out to God for Sarah’s life, speaking words of endearment to her.

She was in a coma and totally unresponsive.

My medical colleagues were waiting in the emergency room when I carried Sarah’s frail body in. But I knew the damage to the brain had been done.

Shortly afterwards, Nancy arrived. As Nancy and I waited in the darkened CT scan room for her brain scan results, we squeezed each other’s hands and whispered the words the Lord had given us that morning.

They were now a promise of flood-tide proportions to us: “I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord!”

Sarah was still in a coma. But even at that stage, we believed by faith that God would restore her to us whole. There was now little else that we could do except to pray as the doctors took over.

A mother’s heartbreak

The news spread like wildfire.

Friends, church members, leaders and pastors started pouring in to comfort us and pray for Sarah. The rest of the family came, including my parents. Both our eldest daughter, Frances, and our son, Andrew, were devastated but we told them to pray in faith with us at this critical time.

The bruising caused by the rope around Sarah’s neck. By the time Sarah was found hanging from the clothesline, her heart had stopped beating, her face was dark blue and her pupils were fully dilated. All photos courtesy of Philip Lyn.

Many looked stunned, few knew what to say. They saw the pain on our faces and wept with us.

We managed to thank everyone who came and asked them to pray. They did, forming spontaneous prayer groups outside the ward and in the visitors’ area, holding hands and praying fervently.

Many came and prayed over Sarah in her bed — including a whole group of children (her friends) who came to lay hands on her. This helped to grow our faith so much.

Nancy had her head on the bed the whole time, crying to the Lord as she held Sarah’s still hand, pleading silently with tears.

Later she had to drive home to collect some personal items for the night. In the car, she was barely able to see the road for her tears and the heavy rain.

In that moment, the Lord spoke to her that He would heal Sarah — not because we were pastors, nor more righteous than anyone else — but because He loved us.

As she wept, she began to worship as His presence flooded the car.

It was a turning point.

The dream

By midnight, everyone had left. It was just Nancy, myself and our dear friend Pastor Lam.

All over the city, prayer chains were started. We knew by then that Sarah would live but her brain damage was probably permanent. I was very concerned about this. 

Then, suddenly at midnight, Sarah broke out of her coma, opened her eyes and cried for her mum.

Nancy hugged her but her stare remained vacant. When asked to “kiss mummy” she had to feel for Nancy’s face.

In that awful moment, I realised she couldn’t see.

In that awful moment, I realised she couldn’t see.

I did a few quick medical tests and they indeed confirmed she was clinically blind. Oxygen deprivation had probably permanently damaged the visual part of her brain.

We were devastated. Sarah then lapsed back into a deep sleep.

By 3am I dropped off to sleep from tiredness. Nancy and Pastor Lam continued to intercede.

In those few minutes God gave me a dream of Sarah. I saw her awake, holding up her hands and counting her fingers up to eleven.

I awoke excited, only to realise it had been a dream.

But God was out to surprise me!

Counting to 4

Shortly after, an incredible sequence of events unfolded in rapid succession.

Sarah held up her hands in exactly the same way I had seen in my dream as she counted: “One, two, three, four …”

Sarah awoke again at precisely 3.45am, 12 hours after being found lifeless on the rope. Fully alert now, she pointed to a clock on the wall. She could see! I told her it was four o’clock.

“Four?” she asked. Sarah held up her hands in exactly the same way I had seen in my dream as she counted: “One, two, three, four …”

She continued to 11.

I broke down and wept.

In that one moment, God had restored everything: Her sight, her intellect, her brain. 

She read a book to us. She talked animatedly. Then she sang: “Jesus loves me, this I know” among a couple of other songs.

It was a sacred moment; we were totally in awe.

Curses were turned into blessings when Sarah awoke, fully healed, at approximately 4 am, on her fourth birthday. On hindsight, Dr Philip reflected that the cultural significance of the timings were divinely aligned with the message in Deuteronomy 23:5.

Pastor Lam, who was the only other witness to the miracle, stole out of the room, went down to the car park and bawled his eyes out in thanksgiving.

Such was the love of this dear friend for us.

Jesus loves me, this I know

At exactly the same moment, God had awakened another pastor in town from his sleep.

Pastor Arthur sensed the Lord telling him to drive over to see us with a message from Him at 4 o’clock that morning!

He had no idea what had happened. As he walked into the hospital room, he passed us the slip of paper on which he had written this verse: “The Lord your God has turned your curse into a blessing for you because the Lord your God loves you (Deuteronomy 23:5).”

When we told him Sarah was healed, he was shocked.

An awesome presence of God filled the room.

Together, with Pastor Arthur and Pastor Lam, we fell on our knees in worship and thanksgiving.

A very happy fourth birthday

As dawn broke, I began making calls to family, loved ones and friends with the good news that Sarah was now completely healed!

Sarah was fully healed at 3.45am on her fourth birthday August 27, 2002.

Sarah Lyn (left) with her father, Dr Philip Lyn. Today, Sarah is a medical student in Melbourne, who is serving actively in church. She hopes that being a doctor will enable her to help others get a second chance at life.

When dawn came and the news of her healing broke, visitors poured in with gifts and presents.

It was an unforgettable morning of joy, laughter and tears of gratitude to God.

She was discharged by lunchtime the same day to celebrate her birthday at home.

Sarah went back to school the following day with a dark rope mark round her neck, drawing considerable attention and queries from friends and teachers.

With no memory of the event, there was no trauma.

For more Salt&Light stories on the outworking of God’s mysterious and mighty power, read Tony and Ashley’s Low’s story here.

Epilogue by Salt&Light: A few months after the incident, Dr Philip and Nancy decided to record this miracle in a re-enacted video.

Their decision was met with criticism and the couple grappled with whether to speak of this as a miracle – or not.

Some challenged that Sarah’s recovery was mislabelled a miracle. “Sarah didn’t die, she was probably in a coma.” “It was just minutes.” “A real miracle would have been like a Lazarus’ situation.”

In other words, they said the miracle was “not proven nor truly qualified”.

However, Dr Philip and Nancy searched the Scriptures. and studied passages which spoke of Jesus’ healings:

  • Lazarus, who had been dead four days (John 11:17)
  • The widow of Nain’s son who was probably only dead for a few hours (Luke 7:12)
  • The daughter of Jairus, the synagogue official, who had only just died (Mark 5:23, 38)

They realised those healings had occurred over a span time. “And as far as I was concerned, the medical signs were all there.”

Dr Philip, now the senior pastor at Skyline SIB Kota Kinabalu church, said: “With that conviction, we knew that this was truly a resurrection.”

So, armed with Scripture and the personal affirmation that God had indeed turned their curses into blessings (Deuteronomy 23:5), the Lyn family went ahead to tell “every bit” of the miraculous healing of Sarah Lyn.

About the author

Dr Philip Lyn

Philip Lyn is the senior pastor of Skyline SIB Church, Kota Kinabalu, and also a practising medical specialist. He is married to Nancy and they have three adult children. His first book, The Sons of Issachar, has been translated into several languages. His second, Slingshots, has just been released.