Our son, Steven, was born in July 2005 just a month before our second anniversary as associates in missions in the country island of Fiji. We were helping my parents-in-law, Kenneth and Shelba Reed, who were missionaries to Fiji at that time. God was moving. People, young and old, were receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and we thought that for sure we were in God’s will when we applied for full-time missionary appointment.
I had a long, problematic pregnancy. In the fifth month, the doctors thought the baby wasn’t growing properly. After an ultrasound, we discovered one of his femur bones was five weeks behind on development compared to the rest of his body. We had no idea what to expect and no specialist to ask our questions.
The day finally arrived when our baby boy was born. Until then I had hopes that the doctors were mistaken, and the baby would be fine. But we could tell at once that he had chronic problems. Steven looked like an old man. He had yellow skin with a purple mouth and nose. He weighed a mere three pounds. His head wasn’t totally formed and he had a caved-in or sunken chest, which later we learned was called “pectus excavatum.” He had an extra finger that the doctor removed. His thumbs looked like fingers.I would love to ask that Fijian doctor, “Whose life will not matter? Whose life will not make a difference?” Steven’s life is not only touching people now, but it has made a mark for eternity. Click To Tweet
Contrary to my hopes, Steven’s condition did not improve. Instead it worsened, resulting in anemia and dehydration within just two months. We had been waiting to see the only pediatric specialist in Fiji, who had been out of the country. When he returned and we finally met with him, I never thought a pediatric doctor could be so cruel and gruff. He basically told us that Steven would never amount to anything, that he would be a vegetable and would not contribute to society. By the time this doctor was done with us, we were stunned. We sat in the hospital lobby while my father-in-law sobbed.
Steven was hospitalized the week before we left Fiji. I slept on a dirty floor beside his incubator, which still had blood and milk stains from the previous occupant. The specialist’s ego seemed hurt when we informed him we were returning to the United States with Steven. We further instructed him not to allow some “testing” that he wanted to do on our son. When my husband asked if he thought Steven was fit to travel, he said, “I’m not responsible for your boy.”
When the day of our departure arrived, my husband came to the hospital, retrieved Steven and me from the pediatric intensive care unit, and drove straight to the international airport. We arrived home in Saint Paul, Minnesota, during the first week of September 2005. Pastor Gerald Grant and his wife had arranged an apartment for us at the Apostolic Bible Institute.
Our first stay at Children’s Hospital was over two weeks. In addition to the myriad tests to pinpoint the exact medical assistance needed, we also tried to find where Steven fit into the world of syndromes. At the time, they thought he was the twenty-fifth known case of the “De Barsy Syndrome.” Steven has since been diagnosed with an idiopathic syndrome, meaning they don’t know what he has.
Steven’s Love for God
In 2011, Steven became very ill. His bones started to break. He had surgery on his femur and had to be intubated post-surgery due to pneumonia caused by aspiration. He spent six weeks in a body cast. The cast was finally removed when x-rays showed his bones were breaking inside of it.
[O]ne of Steven’s nurses, Margaret, felt the touch of God in her own life. She was baptized in Jesus’ name with her son, Tukiko, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Because of his fragile medical condition, Steven was sent home with private duty nursing services. The nurses soon learned of his love for church, and they always made sure he attended church regularly. Over time, one of Steven’s nurses, Margaret, felt the touch of God in her own life. She was baptized in Jesus’ name with her son, Tukiko, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. Immediately after that, Margaret started witnessing to her family in Embu, Kenya.
In March 2017, I contacted Global Missions and was told Patrick Groves was the contact in the country of Kenya. I relayed his information to Margaret and they exchanged emails. Missionary Groves contacted the closest local pastor to Margaret’s town of Embu. This pastor, Wachira Joseph Wamathai, is about two and a half hours away from her family. To date, Pastor Wamathai has baptized twelve people in Jesus’ name, and the new church in Embu now meets under a tree in Margaret’s mother’s backyard. Her living room cannot accommodate the new saints.
I would love to ask that Fijian doctor, “Whose life will not matter? Whose life will not make a difference?” Steven’s life is not only touching people now, but it has made a mark for eternity. We look forward to someday meeting our brothers and sisters from Kenya!
* Since the writing of this article, a new saint in Embu has donated a piece of land to the United Pentecostal Church in Kenya. Funds are being raised to build a place to worship. There are up to forty in attendance, and about twenty have now been baptized in the wonderful name of Jesus!
Resources and Links
A version of this article was published in Pentecostal Life.