Belfast Telegraph

My family took a homeless man in... then he saved my life by donating his kidney

By Claire McNeilly

A Northern Ireland pastor who provided hope a nd shelter for a homeless stranger has told how he in turn received the most precious gift of all - life.

Belfast native Melvin Boyd was down on his luck and struggling to beat his demons in a hostel in Armagh when he called into a Faith Mission shop to buy a Bible.

It was there he learned of the River of Life Healing Centre and Church in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, which holds prayer and healing meetings, and has Pastor John Greenaway at its helm.

The centre is run by John's 37-year-old son Rodger, who listened to 40-year-old Melvin's story before offering him a place to stay, as well as spiritual support.

But the chance encounter happened at a time when Mr Greenaway, a devout Christian, was suffering from kidney failure, and that's when Melvin stepped in and offered to donate one of his own.

The story of the incredible act of kindness - which took place last year ­- only emerged this week.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, the 74-year-old man of the cloth revealed they both believe that it was God's will that they entered each other's lives.

"I got the transplant on March 23 last year; Melvin came to our place less than a year before that on April 23, 2016," Pastor Greenaway said.

"We met because he went into a shop to get a Bible and he told the shop assistant how he was homeless and desperate to meet a family because he'd gone off drink and didn't want to stay in a hostel any longer.

"The girl in the shop called Rodger and put them in touch over the phone. Fifteen minutes later Rodger went to meet Melvin and brought him home and he's been here ever since."

While unwell, the pastor said he had been praying to God to be healed; just months after Melvin arrived he said he firmly believed all his prayers had been answered.

And now, almost a year after the transplant operation, John said he is "fighting fight" and in "great health" and no longer needs to undergo dialysis. John, who had previously been spending much of his time connected to a dialysis machine, believes Melvin's "selfless act" came about because of the power of prayer.

He said that once initial worries that he was an unsuitable candidate for a transplant operation due to his age were cast aside, it was all systems go.

"We had been praying for many people and had seen many people healed through our healing centre here - and then Melvin came along," John added.

"He'd been homeless since he was 14 and had always wanted the love of a family; he was so desperate.

"When he came here and saw the love between us and the children, he wanted to be part of it."

John has two other sons and a daughter - Garry (44), a lorry driver, Mark (43), an agricultural contractor, and Diane (35), who works in insurance - with his wife Doreen (72), who is also a pastor of the church.

And John described the surgery at Belfast City Hospital as "a breeze".

"Everybody worries about the operation but it was just as if it never happened. I had it so easy," he said.

"I was supposed to be in hospital for two or three weeks but I was home inside a week and Melvin actually got out the next day."

The pastor, who is based in the Moy area, said he finds it difficult to express his gratitude in words.

"How could you ever properly thank somebody for giving you an organ from their body that would give you life? It's just something that you couldn't thank anybody enough for," he said.

"It wasn't about repayment. At the end of the day we would both say it was about doing God's will. Melvin still says that he got the better end of the deal.

"When you do something by God you do it through faith and it's through grace by faith that we're saved and it's the same thing for healing; I believe healing and salvation go hand in hand."

Pastor Greenaway also said he has "no doubt" that Melvin, who was raised in Rathcoole, was brought into his life so he could keep doing his good work for God.

"This wasn't a coincidence; I believe it was the hand of God that brought Melvin here. I prayed for healing and asked God to do it whatever way he wanted," he said.

"I want to give all the glory to God and it's the same for Melvin. He doesn't want to take any glory; he did it for God."

He added: "Melvin always says he was the main benefactor because God gave him a home, brothers and a sister all in one go.

"He says that he asked God for a family and, at last, he has one."

Belfast Telegraph

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