Monday, June 17, 2013

The power of prayer

This past week and a half I read two blog posts that almost, almost broke my heart. Two families nearly lost an important member. Two sets of parents on two different continents came so, so close to losing a child. I know neither family - at least not in person - but through reading their blogs I feel like I know them both.

The most recent near-misfortune post shocked me when I read it on Saturday night, a day after it was first posted. Alissa writes a blog that I found through another blog I read. She has five children, and when I first read her blog I found her kids so interesting to read about that I went all the way back to her first post and read her blog the whole way through up to the present. I found it full of fun kid-antics (at least fun for me to read, maybe not so fun if you're the parent) and enjoyed Alissa's commentary on life with five kids. She posts sporadically, so when I checked my blog feeds and saw a new post, I was looking forward to reading it. Then I read the first sentence and my heart almost stopped beating. "Today, my son, Lucas, drowned." It resumed nearly-normal beating pace as I quickly read the second sentence, "But he is going to be okay." This morning she posted an update blog explaining the circumstances (it features Florida Hospital, all you SDA folks!)

I don't know Alissa or her family. They live in Florida, I currently live in Maine. But I've felt an interesting connection to her and her family as I've read her blog for the past year. I don't have any Mormon friends or relatives, but from the very few things I've learned or read about Mormonism, it seems to me like their focus on mission and their home and family values are similar to Seventh-day Adventist values. Probably for that reason, I feel some kind of small kinship with the couple of Mormon bloggers I follow.

I read about the earlier near-tragedy on the evening of June 6. Zane, an almost-two-year-old living with his missionary parents and older brother in Tchad, Africa, suddenly became quite ill within a few hours. His parents started him on IV quinine, the best treatment for malaria. Several hours later Zane started to have a seizure, turned blue, stopped breathing, and all seemed lost. But then he started breathing again, and he lived. Read his father's blog post or another doctor James' blog post for the full story, for all the emotions surrounding Zane's seizure and recovery.

I don't know Zane's family. I don't know James' family. But I do know James' sister. She was one of my housemates for a year at Southern Adventist University. And somewhere during that year I learned that the doctor working at an Adventist hospital in Tchad whose blog I read was her older brother. I had started reading his blog in June 2009 when a little boy named Caleb died while on IV quinine for malaria. A man in my church who worked as an aviation missionary in the Congo years ago knew Caleb's parents who are also aviation missionaries in Tchad at Bere Adventist Hospital. One Sabbath at church when I was home from college for the summer the man got up and told our church family about Caleb's death and burial. At home that afternoon I found James' blog and read the two posts he wrote about the tragedy, and I've been reading his blog ever since. I read about when James and his wife lost their first child before she was even born. And I read about their first-born son Adam's death from malaria in December 2011. I don't know any of these missionaries in Tchad, but I have read their stories, and I have felt - though of course not as deeply as they have - their pain.

This past week I was reminded yet again how important prayer is, for those around me and for myself as well. Although I read both of those almost-tragic posts hours and days after each took place, I am reminded that prayers for safety are always needed. I need to be faithfully praying for those around me, for my relatives and friends, for those I go to church with, for those I read about in countless blogs, and for those I know who are serving as missionaries, both here on this continent and overseas. I am so glad for the prayers of others who have surely been praying for these two families, and I want to be part of the prayers that get sent up to heaven for them and for others all over the world every day.

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