When I was born, the doctor knew something was wrong. My lips, fingers, and toes were blue. The doctor told my mom that I was a “wet baby”.
I didn’t have the strength to nurse and keep down my milk. My birth weight was a mere 5 pounds 13 ounces, but by the time my mom took we home, I was down to 5 pounds. We would discover later that a valve in my heart was defective and didn’t allow my blood to circulate properly.
Our doctor, Dr. Joe Wall, recommended that my parents see a specialist in Springfield, Missouri, some ninety miles from our home in Willow Springs. After several appointments with the specialist, Dr. Christy, my parents saw some improvement in my health.
However, he warned them that if I got even a cold, it could lead to pneumonia and death.
Not long afterwards, my parents visited two churches as they raised support to serve as missionaries in Brazil. We spent a few days with my mom’s uncle, Donald Twist, and his wife, Mary, and their family.
The pastor at their church, Garland Christian Church, took the photo above of my parents and my older brother, Andrew, and me in my mom’s arms.
As we were returning home, it became clear that I had caught a cold. By the time we reached Willow Springs, I had a fever and some difficulty breathing.
Seeing that I was getting worse, my parents took me to Dr. Wall. He immediately arranged for us to go to the hospital in Springfield by ambulance.
The hours passed at the hospital, and I was getting worse. The doctor examined me one last time before he left for the night. He told my parents that I wouldn’t survive. They went to the business office to make financial arrangements, but the man at the desk tell them not to give up hope.
My dad then went to a payphone and started calling family, friends, and churches, asking for prayer for me.
When my parents returned to my side, a young nurse intern told them that she would stay with us all night, if necessary.
So began a long vigil.
My parents and the nurse intern took turns rubbing my back, squeezing my hands, and slapping my feet. They struggled to keep me awake and breathing, which prevented the mucus in my lungs from building up.
During that long night, my parents prayed for God’s will to be done. But they didn’t only pray for me. My parents had been planning to serve in Brazil as church planters. They had raised all the necessary support and were ready to leave, but now their son was gravely ill.
My parents prayed for the Lord to restore me and agreed that if He did, they would respect the doctor’s advice to stay in the States. But if the Lord should take me, they were ready to serve in Brazil.
By God’s grace and thanks to the prayers of many, I survived that night.
I gradually got stronger but continued to struggle with my heart condition. Then I began to take Digitalis, a medicine that strengthens and regulates the heart. I put on some weight and looked healthier, but I was still weak and suffered from bouts of pneumonia and high fevers.
The Lord sustained us during this time and even moved the hearts of our supporting churches to help my parents pay my medical expenses.
My dad accepted a call to serve as interim pastor at a church in Georgetown, Illinois, when I was only six months old. In later years, he pastored churches in Indiana and Georgia.
At the age of four, I was able to undergo a heart operation at Barnes Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. The surgeon, Dr. Goldring, found that I had a defective valve in my heart and repaired it without any complications.
And so, the Lord brought our family through the first difficult years of my life and redirected my parents from the mission field to service in the States.
And in God’s unsearchable ways, I grew up with a desire to serve oversees in missions. God led me to Chad and Cameroon as a single, and then after Susan and I got married, our family served in Cameroon.
In coming blog posts, I hope to share other moments in my life that testify to the greatness of our God. Until then, let’s remember the wondrous ways that our heavenly Father has worked in our lives and praise him all the more!