One of the wonderful things that can happen in a small group is that we become 911 friends for one another—people you can call in crisis. That's exactly what happened for us.
Our third child was born in March. Our small group threw us a beautiful shower and brought us meals after his birth. When our son was 4 weeks old, he caught what we thought was a cold. However, he was not improving and his pediatrician found that he had an irregular heartbeat and was having difficulty breathing. The doctor immediately sent us to the emergency room for further evaluation.
At this time, we had three young children with us with no family living nearby. We quickly called dear friends from our small group and asked if they could take our two daughters for the day while the doctors ran some precautionary tests. They immediately agreed and informed our church of the situation, asking the staff to pray for us.
In the meantime, our son was undergoing a bunch of tests. As a nurse I knew the tests needed to be done to rule out bigger issues, but as time passed, we were starting to get very nervous. Then all of a sudden, the room was filled with doctors. Somebody started to explain that several holes had been seen in our son's heart and he would need to be transported by helicopter to another hospital for emergency cardiac surgery.
We were in shock. Somehow I managed to call our friends and asked if they could watch our girls overnight because we didn't know when we'd be back. Our small-group friends assured me that our daughters would be fine and that the whole small group was praying for us and standing by to help with whatever was needed. Then my husband and I sat crying while looking at our son, praying, and trying to keep it together.
A few minutes later, our church's children's pastor showed up at our hospital room door. Given our large church size, we didn't know him personally, but he had heard about our situation from someone in our small group and came to see us. I expected him to give us a hug, say a quick prayer, and then leave. On the contrary, he just sat and talked with us. He made us feel like we were not alone and reminded us we were loved by God, our church, and our group.
Then the room was full of doctors once again. Amazingly, they apologized because they had jumped the gun on the first diagnosis. It turned out that our son had a serious infection in his lungs but it could be treated without surgery. In the meantime, the pastor had called a church member who was a pediatric cardiologist. This busy doctor personally called us to answer any questions we had and even gave us his personal number for any further questions. That was so reassuring!
These were the scariest moments of our lives, and yet we felt the hands and feet of Jesus in very practical and tangible ways. After the procedure, our son spent time in the pediatric ICU. We received numerous phone calls from our group offering help with the kids, driving, food delivery, and oh so many prayers! Several members of our group put together a meal list that organized volunteers to bring us dinner for over a month. We felt like we were literally carried through that time. We are so thankful for our group and our church for supporting us through it all.
—This writer has chosen to stay anonymous to protect the identities of the children and medical staff in the article.