Robert Griffin is well known in Baptist work in Oklahoma and internationally. He has been a pastor, provided leadership for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and Baptist Village Communities, and he has served overseas in international missions.
Now, as a result of overcoming a critical heart condition, Griffin is serving heart patients as a volunteer with Mended Hearts ministry at Integris Southwest Hospital in Oklahoma City.
In 2014, Griffin noticed he was having trouble breathing, especially while doing yard work. He would stop briefly to catch his breath and then continue working. But in late October that year, his breathing trouble was getting worse.
Friends saw him at a regular Tuesday morning prayer meeting and could tell he was struggling physically, including his doctor friend Mayo Gilson who scheduled an arteriogram for Griffin on Friday that week.
“I was in the hospital having an arteriogram at 1 p.m,” Griffin said, “and at 5:30 I had a full blown heart attack. It almost blew out the back side of my heart.”
It was reported later, after seeing the results of the arteriogram, the doctors were not even sure how Griffin walked into the hospital because his heart was so bad. After he was stabled from the heart attack and moved to ICU, friends came to visit him, including Jim Daniel and Tom Elliff.
“I believe we’ve seen Robert for the last time,” Jim Daniel said after visiting Griffin in ICU. But prayer warriors were contacted all over the world.
Griffin was in a semicomatose state for the days following his heart attack.
“’If he makes it to Wednesday, we’ll talk about what to do. Everything’s normal. We can’t figure out why he’s not waking up,’” Griffin recalls what the doctors said about his condition.
By Thursday, he improved. He was released from the hospital and sent home under the care of his wife, Faye. Soon after, Griffin was in cardiac rehab three days a week, and it was through this experience, he found his new ministry.
“I would encourage every individual who came in, man and woman. I’d want to get to know their names,” he said.
Those who worked in cardiac rehab took notice of Griffin, who recalled what they said to him, “We all agree that you are an encourager. Have you ever heard of Mended Hearts ministry? Would you volunteer for this cardiac ministry?”
Griffin told them he loves to do hospital ministry and accepted the offer to serve with Mended Hearts, beginning in March 2015. In less than a year, Griffin added many names to his prayer list of people he had seen at the hospital.
“If they come into the hospital for heart surgery, I go visit them that evening before,” he said. “One of my greatest feelings is when I see (heart patients) coming into that door for rehab, and I’ve already met them in the hospital and been with them through that surgery.”
One experience Griffin recalls involves a heart patient in his late 50s who told Griffin he wasn’t ready for the experience of heart surgery.
“I don’t mind telling you, I’m scared,” the man told Griffin. But Griffin told him it was OK.
“I’ve been a pastor for many years, and I’ve also had open heart surgery just six months ago,” Griffin told the patent.
“You had open heart surgery?” the man replied.
“Yes I have! God’s been good to me,” Griffin said. “And I believe you have a great surgeon, and he’ll pull together his best team. You are going to have the best mended heart that you can have. I’d like to have prayer with you and your family.”
No patient has turned down Griffin’s offer for prayer. After they hear Griffin’s story, it’s no surprise they would want him to lift them up to the Father, knowing how God has been gracious to him.