And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” —Matthew 22:39
Not too many months after arriving in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, as the senior pastor, I was called into our bedroom by my wife Linda. Our five-year-old son Ryan was lying on our bed. He had been listless for several days and we had taken him to the doctor, but it did not seem serious. However, Linda asked me to look at his hands. With the palms of his hands facing upwards, we watched bruises just move across his hand. We immediately took him to the emergency room, thinking he would be given a shot or we would go home with some medication. You can imagine our surprise, when after running some tests, the doctor came out and said that a medical helicopter was on its way from Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital.
With almost unbelief at this turn of events, we placed him into the care of the medical personnel, called our dear friend Cindy Emhoff, who came to get Elizabeth, our eight-year-old daughter, and then headed to Pittsburgh not knowing what to expect. Ryan was diagnosed with Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP). During the next several days, his head swelled to the point that he could not see out of his eyes. He had spontaneous bursts of blood from his bowel. He had near total kidney failure. His words were at one point, “Mommy, I just cannot go on.” At times his pain was severe, but for the doctors to always know the symptoms, he could not receive pain medication. Neither of us left his side much for those two and one half weeks.
But during that horrendous experience, we also experienced Great Commandment love. In fact it permeated the whole experience. God’s faithfulness was amazingly expressed through so many. We were so exhausted, and although wanting to pray, we had little strength to do it. Thank God for intercessors who held all of us up—near and far! Our state minister, Greg Hall, had just arrived at a meeting out of state but immediately returned to visit with us. Many pastors and parishioners came by to encourage us. The church leaders told us to stay with him as long as we needed to. We made countless trips to the doctor after the hospital stay, but the fees were all waived. A neighbor mowed our yard. In so many ways we experienced Great Commandment love over and over. Shortly after returning home the symptoms began to show again. (In most situations the disease returns but not as strong as previously.) We took him to the altar during the morning worship service and prayed for him. God touched him and the disease never came back.
It was the prayers, presence, and generous acts of kindness from so many that helped us through one of the toughest time in our lives. Transforming Hearts…Transforming Lives!
Dear God, may I serve as a tangible conduit of your grace and encouragement to those who are struggling. Remind me ofthe critical importance ofinterceding for those who have become weary with life’s challenges. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Rev. Ryan Chapman, Credentials Services Coordinator, Church of God Ministries
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