Journeying Back To Good Health

Those of us on social media learned much about the action-packed life of gospel musician, choir director, and pastor, John Fisher, on the Facebook platform. He was always doing something – whether it was playing drums for artists, performing at events with his choir IDMC, serving as music director at New Testament Church of God, Brixton, or eating out often with friends and family. It was evident John was living life to the full. However, John’s life took a major turn when he had a serious stroke in 2022 and was hospitalised, followed by months of rehabilitation.

He is currently still on the road to recovery but has had the time and strength to make plans to commemorate IDMC’s forthcoming 30th anniversary celebrations.

Keep The Faith editor, Marcia Dixon MBE, spoke with John about his stroke, his journey back to health, and his choir.

KEEP THE FAITH: What do you remember about the day your life changed, when you had the stroke?
JOHN FISHER (JF):
The day of the stroke was a long one. I was busy at school, running music classes, and attended various meetings. It was a normal John Fisher-type day, to be honest. In the evening, we started IDMC choir rehearsal at the Front Rooms in Croydon, and went through a few songs which were going really well. We then started rehearsing a song called ‘Mosaic’ from the new album we were working on, and we got to some high notes which I was teaching the sopranos, singing in falsetto which I normally did. However, I found myself feeling dizzy and had to sit down to steady myself. Feeling rested, I stood up to teach another section of the song and found myself getting dizzy again, so I sat down again. We called an ambulance and dismissed rehearsals, the choir prayed with me and waited for the ambulance with me, as they were quite concerned. I got taken to the hospital, where I was diagnosed as having had a stroke.

KTF: Do you have any idea about what caused the stroke?
JF:
I understand now that my blood pressure was very high, and a cell from my brain had exploded and set off the stroke reaction. The cell poured blood on the right-hand side of my brain, causing my left-hand side to become paralysed. My speech also became a bit slurred too, but God was good because that came back straight away.

KTF: It’s been two years since you had your stroke. How are you now? (Are you still in recovery mode, still getting treatment etc.?)
JF:
I’m doing well now. My physiotherapy has ended, and I’m in a gym, building back up my muscles. I’m climbing stairs every day too, and I’m going out walking.

KTF: What changes have you had to make in your life since having the stroke?
JF:
I’ve had to slow my life right down. You know how I used to be, running from left to right, up and down the motorway, in and out of concerts every weekend…? It’s not like that anymore. My days are very quiet now and I haven’t even gone back to work yet.

KTF: What impact has the stroke had on your life and your family?
JF:
My family have been absolutely amazing. I am the most grateful brother in London.
My wife has been a total rock beside me, keeping me on a very disciplined diet, and helping me to lose weight, which has been hard work. She has also been my chauffeur, taking me wherever I need to go, looking after my diary, etc. God is good.

KTF: The gospel community hosted a fundraising concert for you when they heard about your stroke. How did you feel about the support you got from the church community during that time, when you were suffering from the aftereffects of your stroke and getting treatment?
JF:
It has been the prayer of the saints that God heard that have helped me to still be here. I couldn’t believe where the prayers were coming from, my name was being called in churches around the UK, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the USA. The gospel community really showed up for me and gave the devil a good old fashioned smackdown. I am so grateful.

KTF: You are currently focused on celebrating the 30th anniversary of IDMC, the choir you founded in 1994. What will the choir be doing to celebrate this special anniversary?
JF:
Yes, it is our 30th year of ministry, and I want to do so much, but I have be careful now because my mobility is still a bit shaky. God-willing, though, we will have a celebration in London and a few shows around the country later in the year. A brand-new album was recorded in February 2021 up at LCGC Studios in east London. Look out for that.

KTF: What in your view have been the three most significant achievements of the choir over the years?
JF:
Performing at the wedding of opera superstar Luciano Pavarroti; touring Denmark with artist Lukas Graham; and recording and releasing 12 albums, four singles and four live DVDs.

KTF: What should we expect from the choir in forthcoming years, and will you be releasing any music this year?
JF: I believe God has more for me to do, so look out for more shows with me at the front of the choir. Yes, there will be new music; I’ve still got lots to say and I hope to be at the front of the choir until God says: “Enough, John.”

KTF: You’re the child of a pastor, and a musician who has served your church denomination as well as leading gospel groups, including LCGC. How has your faith helped you cope with the aftermath of your stroke?
JF:
While I was in hospital, my faith covered me and kept me strong. My conversations with God have been so rich, with Him making my life and purpose very clear. I was in hospital when Joey “Bass Man” Grant died and then André, the drummer from the UpMass Choir (led by George Anthony). I really thought my time had come to say goodbye, so that night I prayed, with tears in my eyes saying: “God, I have had an amazing life and I thank You for every opportunity You’ve given to me. Now, if it’s time for me to go, please take care of my darling wife and family.” I was ready to go, but in the morning, God said: “NO, it’s not your time yet, John. I’ve got more for you to do.” I thought, “OK then, let’s goooo!!!” And got really excited.

KTF: It’s said that our wealth is our health. What has your stroke taught you about the importance of health, and what insights do you have to share on how believers can look after and maintain good health?
JF:
You’re right, our true wealth is our health. For the past two years I’ve been travelling firstly in a wheelchair, and from that to a Zimmer frame, from that to two walking sticks, and now just one stick. All I can say is that you should never give up. Set yourself goals that are achievable. Be wise with what you eat and go out and walk daily. Look after yourself, eat well, sleep well. Just be careful in all things and put God first in everything.

Visit www.idmcgospel.com



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