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Dad's Testimony

"Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it."  Psalm 127:1

It was 6 June 2002 and it seemed like a normal day. I went to work and ate lunch with several coworkers. I got a call from Deb saying she had scheduled an appointment with a local doctors because Matt had another headache, worse than the others. Prior to this, we had taken Matt to our regular doctor because he had been having mild headaches, only in the morning, for a week or so. I was concerned but not terrified. That was to come shortly.

I took him to see a local doctor, not our family doctor, because he wasn’t available. The good doctor suggested an CT scan. We had it done immediately. That evening, we were just starting to eat supper with friends when I got a call from the doctor. Matt had several masses in his head and the doctor wanted us to go to Gunderson Lutheran Hospital immediately. I feared the worse, I almost fell apart.

We took Matt to the hospital. They were ready for him. He had a MRI and went through one test after another from about 9 PM till 1:30 AM with little waiting in between. The doctors were very thorough. He was put in ICU and the three of us spent the night in the hospital.

We found out the masses were not tumors but did not know what they were. They had to sample the masses by basically drilling a hole in is head and then culturing the samples. He got through that fine. He was put on IV antibiotics. It was very trying. The concern had grown to panic and fear. The MRI showed 19 masses of various size. Three were large, the rest were small. After the culture returned, it was determined they were aspergillosis, a bad form of a fungal infection. He had always been healthy. No one had any idea why a healthy then 7 seven year old boy would have 19 brain abscesses like this. After one week, we were sent home with help from a visiting nurse so Matt could receive at home IV antibiotics. We were only home one night. The headaches got much worse, It was truly terrible. We took him to the local ER and were sent back to Gunderson Lutheran Hospital getting there, with friends who drove, about 2:30 AM.

After about 18 hours of horrible suffering it was decided he would have emergency surgery to put in a temporary shunt to relieve the pressure in his brain causing the headaches that even morphine did not touch very well or very long. After this was done, the headaches disappeared but the problem of the masses, and what to do about them, remained. We were there for three weeks with doctors from Gunderson consulting with specialists from other areas.

While at the hospital I spoke on several occasions with Chaplain Tony. We prayed together. Matt met Chaplain Lori who sat with him and prayed with us. Despite the best treatment, the abscesses kept getting larger and they were being measured with MRIs every two weeks. We met Dr. Firary, a young physician who specialized in infectious diseases. She was a Godsend in many ways as were Chaplains Tony and Lori. And nurse Teresa who still prays for us.  While at the hospital, I was standing outside, one night, at a little after midnight. I was as low as I have ever been in my life. It came to me that Hell is a place where there is no hope. I remain convinced that Hell is a place where there is the total absence of hope.   It is a poor place to visit.  You do not need to go there because Jesus has already paid the price for your salvation.  For Saving Grace, click Saving Grace.

We were sent home again with a referral for a visiting nurse to help with the IV antibiotics. The abscesses continued to get larger even with the best medicines that could be prescribed.

At home, our visiting nurse, named Jean, was yet another Godsend. She came to our home four times a day seven days a week, including 7/4/02. We had a lot of support from friends and neighbors who visited at the hospital. Pastor Jim and Pastor Brian both visited and prayed with us. The King family was there for us and helped in to many ways to count.

Sister Jan was praying for us and believed she heard the message that Matt would be fine but we should have a healing service through our church. This was arranged and Pastor Brian held the healing service at our church. We were supported by many friends and family, including many of my coworkers.   There was a laying on of hands along with prayer and praise. This was in July 2002. We had a 4th MRI shortly after the healing service. Praise God the masses had gone from getting bigger each and every time to shrinking 25 to 30%. All though this Matt was in the prayers of our church, and continues to be to this day.

My wife Deb was strong throughout all the time at the hospital. I, on the other hand, was a basket case. When I returned to work in July 2002 it felt as though someone was standing on my chest. If I had not known this was from stress, I would have ran to a ER for medical treatment. But it was not my heart, it was my situation. There were so many, many things that could have gone wrong. Too many to even contemplate. I digress here to talk about my faith walk prior to all of this. I was in my early 50s, went to church every week, and considered my self born again. I had never really had anything like this, this bad, happen to me before. But still I was a Christian mostly on Sunday and really didn’t live it the rest of the week. I mean I looked to myself, and friends, or professionals, for answers to problems.

The summer of 2002 slowly went by. I had pain in my body from fear. Although I could do what needed to be done, there was no joy in my life. None. Every day was a struggle. I turned more and more to God. On 10/15/2002, I was driving North of Decorah in an area of rolling hills and timber. It is truly beautiful. The leaves had changed and the sun was shining. I became thankful and thought I’d say a short prayer. While I was thanking God, the Holly Spirit spoke out loud to me. This is the first and only time this has ever occurred. It was like another person sitting there talking to me. His voice was not like a voice I had ever heard before. It had no accent. I am not sure if the voice was masculine or feminine. His words were distinct. He said not to worry about Matt, he would be all right. He told me to take my mother, who was in a nursing home, for a ride Sunday. I tried to talk to him but the voice was gone. I was dumbstruck. Was it my imagination? Did I hallucinate? Did I hear what I wanted to hear? I was not sure but I was hopeful.

On Sunday, I took my mom for a ride with my wife Deb. The people at the nursing home didn’t think it was a good idea. She could not walk, was demented and almost hit me, not knowing who I was, when I put a light coat on her. She was disoriented and distrustful the first couple miles. She was not sure who she was with. We talked. She figured it all out. She had a wonderful time. We stopped at our home and our two boys, Matt and Joe, came out and talked to her and gave her a hug. She was with it, knew who they were and just really enjoyed the whole experience. I was more hopeful than ever it was actually the Holly Spirit that had talked to me.

Then in December 2003 University of Iowa doctors diagnosed Matthew with CGD. Here we were lead to Dr. Goldman and other fine doctors.  This is an inherited disorder that causes his white blood cells do be empty. It is very, very rare. Normally, when there is an infection, white cells rush to surround the infection and the stuff in the white blood cells basically eats and destroys the bacteria. With empty white cells, his only do half the job.  It explained the masses in his head.

Living became easier for me. It is not that I never worried or felt any doubt but I had joy in my life again. We had a second healing service, again at Decorah Lutheran Church, with Pastor Brian, with a laying on of hands by all present including our entire family. Ryan, our oldest son, had missed the first healing service because he had been away at college at the University of Iowa. He was home, during Christmas 2003, for the second healing service. It felt right to have our entire family present. Matthew continues in the prayers on our prayer chain and in the prayers of our church. Our church also has prayer warriors who meet and pray weekly. Our request for total healing is always before God the Father through his Son, our Savior, Jesus.

As I write, Matthew has had over six months of wonderful health which allows him to be a 10 year old boy doing all the stuff 10 year old boys do. And maybe a little bit more. He accepted Jesus answering an alter call at a Benny Hinn Crusade in Minneapolis in early September 2004. It is a blessing.

I thank anyone who has read this long and perhaps rambling story. But it is our story, every word is the truth, and our situation has moved us all closer to God in all his glory. Prayer is very important to us and I do ask that you stop and take a minute to say a prayer for Matthew and our family. Matthew’s situation has also moved several close friends, and perhaps yet others, closer to God.

During our travels we have met many wonderful people. Too many to mention. They to are a part of God’s gifts.   Matthew has had three brain surgeries, has been on multiple strong drugs, he had 19 brain abscesses.  He could have had brain damage, he could have had reactions to the medications, he could have had seizures from the abscesses.  The list of things that could have gone wrong is almost endless.  Instead he is 100% sound, with a great attitude toward life and a quiet courage.  Truly, God's grace through answered prayer; hence Healing Grace Ministies is born.

We are updating as of 10/2005.  It has been over three years since this all started.  I remain steadfast in believing in God's Grace and His Mercy. 

It is now April, 2006.  We thank God for His mercy and healing for Matt and our family.

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Stand firm in the faith; Our hope and our future is in Jesus Christ.