At a time when Americans gather around their Thanksgiving tables, Scot Ashcroft will be counting the ways that he is thankful.

He’s alive.

He feels great.

He’s with his family.

He can still help people.

In January, the 61-year-old Alexandria man was at death’s door, felled by double pneumonia and undiagnosed congestive heart failure. His wife, Ginelle, brought him to Alomere Hospital, which sent him to the St. Cloud hospital.

“I don’t remember any of this,” Scot said. “They didn’t think I was going to make it.”

His oxygen levels were low and his heart, operating at about 10% capacity, wasn’t pumping enough blood. For nine days, a machine breathed for him while doctors ran tests to figure out what was wrong.

Ginelle, who works as a nurse in St. Cloud, recalls that in the weeks before she brought her husband to the emergency room, he couldn’t work, or even lie down to sleep. All he could do was sit up and try to breathe. They thought all he had was pneumonia.

Mindful that she could lose him, she stayed by his side, sleeping in his hospital room, praying for him and talking to him. And as sick as he was, she said he never complained. In fact, he was more concerned about her.

“How are you doing?” he asked her.

She missed two-and-a-half months of work to be with him. During that time, coworkers would bring her coffee and food. Knowing they were down two incomes, friends and family would press cash into her hand when they saw her.

When Scot eventually emerged from infections and swelling, he couldn’t remember what year it was or how many grandchildren he had (now eight, with a ninth on the way). Doctors put in a pacemaker. After several weeks in the hospital, he recovered enough to go home.

By May, he was back to work, delivering pizzas.

Full of faith

Today, Scot is working more hours than before his illness, and feels better than he has in decades. A previous eating addiction is gone, he no longer thinks about food all the time, and has shed 80 pounds. He also works out daily at the gym.

He is also full of gratitude to God. A former Assemblies of God pastor, Scot said he was never afraid during his illness, confident that God would take care of him. About 10 years ago, having experienced several failures, he asked God to change him. He then suffered about a decade of painful fibromyalgia, but believed it was in response to his prayer and was designed to teach him in some way and allow him to help others.

Scot no longer suffers from fibromyalgia, he said. And now he has begun reaching out, handing out coins bearing the Ten Commandments to strangers in public. He encourages others to trust God’s healing power alongside modern medicine.

His pastor, Pete Reishus of New Testament Church, thinks Scot’s outreach is “great.”

“He’s motivated by compassion,” Reishus said. “He’s been through difficult times and he would like to be an instrument of blessing to people. He’s been blessed by others, too.”

During one service, when Scot was at his sickest, the church prayed for him for about 25 minutes, Reishus said.

“It was looking pretty grim and now to see him in as good shape as he is, the Lord answered our prayers,” the pastor said.

Even Scot’s medical bills, about $335,000, were taken care of. Insurance covered most of them, and donations also helped.

This Thanksgiving, the Ashcrofts will host a meal at their house for family.

And while they appreciate that this country sets aside a day to give thanks, they have a different perspective.

“We believe in giving thanks every day,” Ginelle said.