I am very pleased to hand the blog over to my friend Bruno Kondabéka this week. Bruno and his wife Joanne are great friends of our family and are also the pastors of Chichester Family Church.
Some years ago, their son (who was then 7 years old) was struck by a terrible illness, but God did something remarkable.
It’s an incredible story of God’s power at work. Bruno will share what happened next.
My wife Joanne and I have three boys, and as pastors of a church in Chichester, our lives are often busy. About two years ago, I was preaching a sermon series on the issue of suffering. I remember asking our church, ‘When trouble comes, will you stay the course?’ We didn’t know then that soon ‘trouble’ would visit our home and put our family to the test.
It began without any warning, when one day our youngest son Samuel started to feel unwell. He had a slight fever but didn’t seem too ill, so we gave him Calpol, and he stayed home from school for a few days to recover.
Five days later, Samuel started to get visibly worse: his temperature went up, and he was complaining that his head and neck were hurting, so we rang NHS Direct who advised we take him to the emergency doctor. On Sunday, the hospital checked him over, but they felt satisfied that it was probably a virus and in time it would pass. However, by the middle of the week, Samuel was still not any better, so we took him to our GP, and that’s when things became very worrying. Samuel was very agitated that day, which was not like his usual cooperative self, and he seemed to be in pain and was very confused. The GP rang the paediatric unit at the hospital, and the consultant suggested we take him straight there.
We were greeted at the hospital by the consultant and his team, and we started to realise that this was maybe very serious indeed. Again Samuel was very agitated and confused. He had become light sensitive, so he was sedated in order to calm him down so that he could be examined and given a CT scan.
After the scan, our son’s condition deteriorated rapidly. He was finding it hard to wake up, his heart beat was erratic, and he was not responsive to anything we said to him. The results of his CT scan were passed onto the specialists in Southampton Hospital, and because they were concerned with what they saw, they arranged for Samuel to be transferred by ambulance to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit in Southampton. To stabilise him, he was put in a drug induced coma, and he was quickly taken to Intensive Care.
After further tests, we were told Samuel had Meningoencephalitis – a very rare and potentially deadly infection on the brain, caused by mycoplasma (a cross between a virus and bacteria) which causes the brain to swell. As parents, our hearts were broken, and the tears flowed as we watched what was happening to our little boy, but we did what we could to hold on to God and to trust Him to take us through this.
I remembered that just a short time previously, I had asked our church family if they were able to ‘stay the course’ when suffering came, and now we were facing that exact situation ourselves. We felt all the emotions you could expect – we wept and we worried, but we were also encouraged by remembering words spoken over Samuel’s life when he was dedicated as a baby by our friend, Pastor Brian Downward, from Bournemouth. The words at that time were that God had a purpose for his life, and it was a good purpose. He was to be a man of God.
I was also aware that our friends in Angers, France, were holding a week of mission at their church. I lived in France for some years, and the church there had helped to sponsor me in my theology studies in South Africa. I had a phone call from David L’Herroux, who told us that the church wanted to pray for Samuel. David felt it was important that the church prayed together during one of their services, and so that night at 8.30pm at the hospital in Southampton, we connected by phone with the church in France (as David paused in the middle of his preach). We laid hands on Samuel as David prayed, and then because we were in the ICU and couldn’t make too much noise, I went outside the ward and continued to pray (with my arm outstretched toward my son’s bed), while the church prayed that God would heal Samuel. That day had been particularly hard as we watched the nurses struggling to get Samuel to wake up out of the coma – they were not succeeding. So, we were encouraged by this prayer and support, and it gave us courage to believe for a miracle.
I walked back to the ward and we continued to sit beside Samuel’s bed, and literally just 30 minutes later, we had the biggest surprise of our lives when Samuel just opened his eyes. He had been unconscious for 3 days. The nurses rushed to see him and confirmed he was conscious – they removed his breathing tube, and from that moment, he started to make a full recovery.
The next day, he was moved from the ICU, and 14 days later, he was discharged from the hospital. The neurosurgeon who had worked with Samuel took us to one side and said that although she was amazed at his recovery, we should also expect the worst, as there could be long term damage.
But just over two weeks later, Samuel was back at school part-time, and the following week, he went back to school full time. He will soon be celebrating his tenth birthday and has suffered no ill effects whatsoever.
We thank God every day for the amazing miracle he gave us for our son.
Bruno’s story is a wonderful reminder to us that God is very much at work in the world around us. At UCB, I encourage the team to keep being expectant and believing for the impossible. We live in a world which is bound by fear, but I believe God wants to set us free in every area of our lives. I trust Bruno’s story has encouraged you to believe for more. We serve a mighty God!