As a faith-supported missionary, I try to open up my life to our supporters with regular letters* like this one. The toughest parts of our lives are sometimes hard to share, but our need for prayer outweighs our need for privacy. I write letters like this one knowing that many of you struggle with issues no less painful. Please be praying for Leah today & tomorrow.
Sunday evening, Karen got Leah into the car and took off for Thomaston, GA to attend a week-long healing conference at a church there. Ever since God gave us Leah nearly 20 years ago, we have sought him for her healing. At first, it was for hearing. She had terrible problems with ear infections and scar tissue that built up. We prayed and one day her hearing was miraculously restored.
But as she grew up, Leah’s other physical issues became more apparent. She was always at the doctor. She had a shortened palate that made it difficult for her to articulate. She had scoliosis. Several years ago, she began having seizures and the doctor prescribed medicine for epilepsy. She also struggles with processing things more slowly than normal.
Ultimately, we found out the root issue: Leah has a rare malady that causes a variety of symptoms that are often worse than the ones she has.
Karen, especially, has poured herself into helping Leah live as normal a life as possible. One of the reasons we moved to the country was to give her an environment where she and the other children could experience farm life. Along the way, we’ve hired any number of consultants and tutors and specialists to give us guidance with her special needs.
Of course we’ve prayed. I’ve taken Leah places to have her prayed for. We’ve gathered friends to help us pray. And at some point, I suppose we became more and more resigned to the reality that we’re living with. All Karen has heard from God is, “Let me use her.”
And he has. She brings life to many through her sweet spirit. Recently, Leah graduated from high school. She can read and write and text on her new phone. This next year she’ll be entering a program to work at the local hospital with other special needs children. She loves God and is a good servant. She loves to volunteer in the AIM kitchen during our training camps. We all love Leah just the way she is.
Still, we seek God for her healing. We wonder how independent she’ll be. At 19, she still needs our help. Other parents of special needs children understand the constellation of issues that you deal with. What about driving? What about providing for herself? What will happen when we’re gone? The questions go on and on.
And where is God in all this? If he intends to use Leah, what is our part in that? At what point do we settle for reality and make the best of it?
So this week Karen and Leah are attending the healing conference. Emily and I have stayed behind and are praying that God sees all our hearts and touches Leah in some new way that will bring glory to his name. I have a friend who was radically healed of a degenerative heart condition through this ministry. Many others have had cancers disappear. Prayer works.
We know God heals. Last week our Kenya team returned with a report of praying for a boy whose blind, white eye became clear. They prayed for another girl with a terminal disease and saw her healed as well. Kids who were agnostic about healing have become believers.
God is in the healing business, though his timing and choices are inscrutable. And we want to impart a relationship with a God of power and compassion to a generation of cynics. Yes, we have plenty of reason to be cynical ourselves. But we have seen too much of the goodness of God to go there.
As, through AIM’s ministry, we attempt to disciple people to live radically for Jesus, we recognize that life has few easy answers. In this season of economic struggle and diminishing expectations, maybe you’re struggling with your own set of questions you’re asking God. As you do so, we pray that you find the faith that our family is still clinging to for Leah’s healing even as we (and maybe you too) face a reality that is often discouraging.
One thing we’re convinced of: God loves Leah and he loves us. We’re resolved to trust him for the answers that we don’t have. And we pray that whatever you’re facing, God shows you his goodness and gives you the faith to trust him with your problems too.
Seth and Karen
* Let me know – I’d be happy to put you on the list.