Testimonies of Faithfulness
From The Master's Seminary Wives
Many wives were hesitant to uproot their lives for pastoral training. But when they stepped out in faith with their husbands—leaving behind family, friends, and careers for the sake of gospel ministry—they found themselves in a unique season of life filled with the blessings of God’s provision, spiritual growth, and preparation for life as a pastor’s wife. Here are some of their stories.
Seminary Wives Testimonies
Monica is married to Alejandro Peluffo, a 2013 graduate. The Peluffos now serve in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
I became a pastor’s wife when I was 23 years old. My husband, Alejandro, took on the pastorate of a small church in Lobos, Argentina. Fifteen years after we began our ministry, my husband came to grips with the fact that our church was suffering from a lack of sound doctrine in the pulpit and our small-town church was just a taste of what the rest of the country suffered doctrinally. Subsequently, the Lord allowed my husband to attend a life-changing event for our family: his first Shepherd’s Conference. There, the leaders of Grace Community Church would encourage him to study at The Master’s Seminary and then return to Argentina to train pastors and leaders in sound doctrine and expository preaching.
To this day, I remember the phone call he made from across the world to tell me that we were moving to the U.S. to attend seminary. I was thrilled about this opportunity because I knew it would fulfill what he had desired for so long—to have a better understanding of God and His Word. At the same time, I had to wrestle with the implications of such a decision. We would have to move to a different country, learn a different language and live in a different culture with three kids (ages 16, 13, and 5) who loved our current life and ministry. I knew it would be a shocking change for all of us, but I wanted to support my husband through prayer and encouragement.
It took us two years to finally move to the States. Though the process was long, we experienced God’s caring grace in unique ways. I never imagined how much I would grow as we were prompted to depend on the Lord for things that would normally be part of our everyday life: driving a car, but with new traffic laws; filling out important paperwork, but in another language and with difficult terminology; sharing my physical discomforts with a doctor, but with serious language limitations. Even though there were hard moments throughout our transition to the U.S., they became sweet memories. In retrospect, I can see how the Lord was behind all these things, using them to make me more like Christ.
The greatest lesson that the Lord taught me during our seminary years was to enjoy the moments. My husband was not only studying full-time. He was doing so in a language that was not his own, he was working to support our family, and he started teaching a Bible study right off the bat. Responsibilities increased as the years went by. He was very busy, so I couldn’t have high expectations for our time together. I needed to enjoy the moments. In other words, I couldn’t dream of having entire days with him. Rather, I needed to enjoy the hours—or even minutes—we had together. Very practically, I had to learn to enjoy the regular things of life: the meals we had together as a family, getting the house ready for when he arrived, making special food, serving him coffee as he kept studying. Ultimately, it meant adjusting my plans to his schedule, which made me think more of him and less of me. I needed to enjoy the opportunity that I had to serve him. And I knew that serving my husband and family was out of obedience and service to the Lord.
To enjoy the moments meant that I needed to be my husband’s helper and companion,
and I couldn’t do that if I wasn’t depending on the Lord.
My God and Savior is the only one who can fill my life—this became very real to me during the years of seminary. Even though moving to the States meant that I was leaving my church, family members, friends, house, and many other things, I could still experience joy if I depended on the Lord. My satisfaction must come from Him, not the church, the family, our possessions, not even from my husband. When I had that attitude, I was able to enjoy those moments with my husband and family. It was only then that I was able to come alongside my husband and be a loving wife instead of complaining and demanding more time with him. It was then that I would be able to see the blessing of moving and of the Lord taking care of so many details.
After living in the U.S. for about eight years, we returned to our small city and church. Our two older children stayed in the U.S. Now I am a long-distance mother and grandmother. There are many important events in the life of my family that I am not able to be part of. I never saw our daughter date her (now) husband. I have only experienced a few days out of the lives of our grandchildren and one of them we have not met up to this day. Once again, I must choose to rejoice in the Lord, to find my satisfaction in Him, and enjoy the moments. I am amazed at how the Lord has given the ability to enjoy our kids and grandkids at a distance.
A pastor’s wife will experience difficult situations during and beyond seminary life. The ultimate truth for all of us is that we can enjoy every moment of those challenging experiences. This will only happen, however, if we take our eyes off ourselves and depend on the Lord. When we are satisfied in Him, we will rejoice in the life we share with our husbands and we will best serve the pastor whom we have wed.
Mabel is married to Josué Pineda. They serve in the Spanish ministry at Grace Community Church as Josué continues his training in the Master of Theology program. They have two kids, Daniel and Valentina. Watch Josué's Testimony »
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor 12:9).
These words of the Apostle Paul summarize what the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ has taught me during this time in seminary. Throughout my life, before and after I received the grace of salvation, there were many things that my sinful nature and my deceitful heart would cling to—good and honorable things such as family, friends, a job with a secure income, well-known and well-loved doctors, or good health insurance.
My husband longed to be trained for ministry and when the opportunity to attend The Master’s Seminary came, my heart trembled. Not because I hesitated to pursue his calling for ministry, but because it would mean leaving behind everything that my heart trusted in so much. We moved from El Salvador to Los Angeles and our new life began. I knew that my husband wouldn´t have as much time with the family as we would like, but I wasn’t prepared for what was coming. I was not used to being alone with my two children (a three and one year old) all the time, having full responsibility for them, and my house.
I quickly discovered that I did not have enough strength to honor the Lord where He had placed me.
My own training was about to begin.
I wanted my old sense of comfort more than I wanted to serve my family. And while I could keep up with the housework and care for our family on just a few hours of sleep, my heart was not in it and I lacked joy.
In my husband’s long hours of study, I found true safety in the moments when I felt I had lost everything that had once made me feel safe. It’s then that the Lord showed me He is everything I need, the only fount of joy and peace, that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13), that He is my rock (Is 28:16), that He will uphold me “with His righteous right hand” (Is 41:10), and that He “will never leave me nor forsake me” (Heb 13:5).
In seminary the Lord surrounded me with precious, godly women—some ahead of me in the race and others living my same season of life—and I have learned a lot from all of them. Their example and the teaching of the Word have helped to shape my heart and my desires. Attending Sem Wives for three years has been a blessing. I learned that my dependence and joy come only from the Lord. I have been taught what is good, to love my husband and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to my husband, that the Word of God may not be reviled. (Tit 2:3-5).
Taryn is married to Franco Brits, a 2017 graduate. They have two children, Mila and Jace. After graduation, the Brits moved to Louisville, Kentucky to pursue Franco’s doctorate. Watch Franco's testimony »
My husband and I arrived on U.S. soil in July 2015 with our 10-month-old daughter and six suitcases. It was my first time in America, and I was flooded with many bittersweet emotions as we had said goodbye to our loved ones and excitedly looked towards our future at TMS. Our goal was simple—get equipped, finish seminary, and then return to minister to the people of our home and heritage—South Africa! As many of you can testify, the time flew by. Before we knew it, we were facing our final year of TMS. Once again, it was a time of bittersweet emotions as we excitedly anticipated going back to our home in South Africa but sadly thought of saying goodbye to some of the best friendships we have ever had.
My husband started the candidating process with many pastors and churches in South Africa. Our prayer during this time was that the Lord would use us to bring Him the most glory. The waiting game then began. Little did we know that the Lord would choose to have us wait much longer than we desired. Opportunities arose and quickly the doors seemed to be closing. This was hard for us to wrap our minds around as we believed that the Lord really could use us back home. But that was our will and not the Lord’s.
During those times, it was tempting to rely on my emotions. The Lord had us in the waiting room.
Every day was a choice to rejoice in waiting on the Lord for Him to reveal His will, or to get frustrated and anxious about not knowing where we were going. I would often quote a faculty wife in my mind as she said to “shine in the waiting.” But what a tough principle to follow when we were bombarded with deadlines and visa restrictions. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” This verse became my reference in times of doubt and weakness. I’m so thankful for God’s word, which encourages us and directs us in every situation. I am also grateful for the Lord’s leading through this challenging time. He revealed sin in my heart to which I was oblivious. He provided abundantly in ways that we did not deserve.
We did not get to return to South Africa, but the Lord has a good plan for our lives (Rom 8:28).
To look at the next journey in our lives as a second-best option would be to not recognize the Lord’s sovereign provision for us. This was never the way I envisioned our candidating process but it has taught me some important principles.
First, I need to hold loosely to my own plans. Proverbs 16:9 reminds me that my plans are not always the Lord’s plans. The tighter I hold to my own plans the harder it will be if the Lord directs my steps differently. And second, I need to embrace change. Few enjoy change but it is certain in all of our lives. I had dreams, plans, and desires about how it would be to minister in South Africa. My overactive mind got the best of me so often that I refused to look to God for His perfect will in my life. I am grateful that the Lord changed our plans because I know that He wants what is good for our sanctification and His glorification, and there is no other plan that is better than that. I know that this life I live is not my own (Gal. 2:20). I am completely undeserving and inadequate for any good task the Lord gives me. But I am fully adequate in Him. Now I can choose to say, “Lord make your plans my plans and your path the only path."
Oriana Beltran is married to David, a 2018 graduate. They now serve in Colombia. Watch David's Testimony »
At midnight, on December 30, 2014, my husband and I arrived at LAX with two suitcases. We had left everything in our home country of Colombia and were welcomed into California by people we barely knew. At that time, I did not know that the Lord would later give us a family in them. He was guiding our steps and sustaining us from the very beginning of our time at The Master’s Seminary.
That first semester was the hardest of them all. My husband was suffering through his Hebrew class and so was I. At one point, I thought we were going to become the first TMS family to be sent home. Our weakness was great, but God’s grace was greater. Later on, while my humble husband was committed to his studies and work, I struggled to be 100 percent dedicated to my home. I was used to working and studying and had never planned to have an F2 visa (also called the “dependent visa” because you cannot work nor study).
That legal document was the beginning of a process of surrendering my will to the Lord,
acknowledging my sin, and fully trusting in what the Scripture says regarding my role in marriage.
I can’t thank my Savior enough for giving me an understanding of the importance of dedicating my entire life to my family. Now I can say with a joyful heart that my beloved husband and daughter, Valentina, are my first ministry and priority. During these years of seminary, we never lacked anything. The Lord provided for all our needs and we are grateful. Every semester He gave us the provision to pay for the tuition and the living expenses. Even more richly, He provided for our spiritual needs.
The Seminary Wives Discipleship program was one of the means God used to draw me closer to Him. I was encouraged to pray, believe with obedience, and wait with hope. I was challenged to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called as Ephesians 4:1-7 teaches us. I was given practical steps on how to deal with criticism as a pastor’s wife, as well as principles to apply when discipling women. I also learned important tools on how to facilitate small groups and how to go through the candidating process. I am so thankful that the Lord allowed me to be part of Sem Wives while my husband was in seminary. It was there that I learned from the wisdom of other pastor’s wives and made deep, meaningful friendships.
Looking back on how the Lord brought us through this journey as a family brings tears to my eyes. Our sinful hearts and wicked ways received such precious grace. Every trial and blessing was used to prepare us for ministry. Lord willing, we will be returning to Colombia this coming August. Not just two of us, but three! Not with two suitcases but six. Not at midnight, but early in the morning. We are as we were when we first came here, wondering what His plan for us will be. But I remind myself that we don’t need to know what is waiting ahead of us, we just need to trust the One who holds our future in His hands. The glory be to God.
Anita is married to Brian Biedebach, an alumnus, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministries, and a pastor, elder, and missionary at Grace Community Church.
Johannesburg, South Africa, is where I spent my growing up years enjoying a wonderful, carefree childhood while my parents were serving faithfully in their local church. My dad had theological training and became the associate pastor. Later we left that church with a group of people who were looking for “more of the Holy Spirit leading” and went to a charismatic church. It was during this time at a children’s revival meeting that I decided to give my heart to Jesus. Later, at a youth event when I was about twelve, I appeared to speak in tongues and later tried to help my sister who also wanted the experience by telling her that she should just make up some higgledy-piggledy words and then say them over and over and over again.
But God, in His grace and perfect timing, opened my dad’s eyes to the truth. My dad began to recognize several inconsistencies within the charismatic church that we were attending. After confronting the leaders of the church about biblical inconsistencies and being brushed, off he soon decided to leave that church. We started to attend a much smaller church where a TMS graduate served as the pastor. I honestly didn’t like the church. The people who attended didn’t seem like they had the joy of the Lord. There was no hand-clapping, no dancing, no flags, no drama. Just teaching from the Bible.
I didn’t attend very often, but in July 1999, my parents decided to invite a new missionary pastor, Brian Biedebach, to our home for dinner to make him feel welcome in our country. Brian had come from The Master’s Seminary to serve our small Bible church because our South African pastor was returning to the USA to further his seminary training. We had a wonderful time at the dinner table and the conversation between Brian and me was electric! There was a problem though, I had a boyfriend. When Brian found out that I was ‘attached’, he began to back away. When I expressed my disappointment, he quickly stated the obvious. Namely, that if he and I were to pursue any kind of friendship, I would need to break up with my boyfriend. And so, the next day, I did. Brian and I had some ups and downs during our courting relationship, but God is sovereign and after three proposals I agreed to marry him. Brian would argue that fake proposals don’t count, but in my opinion, anytime a guy gets down on his knee with a ring box it’s pretty much a proposal! The third proposal occurred when we were in a hot air balloon and he “accidentally” dropped the ring over the edge. It left me speechless until he got down on his knee and pulled the REAL ring out of his pocket.
When we got married, I instantly became the pastor’s wife, a missionary wife, and I became a member of our church. Our first year of marriage had some challenges, especially as I was struggling with sin. The reality is I am MUCH worse than I think I am! Brian confronted me on some sin issues and I began to realize how offensive sin is to God, who alone is holy!
It is crucial to attend a church that teaches biblical truth. Growing up in a church that didn’t teach sound doctrine allowed for me to have many misunderstandings. I had never really understood why I needed God. I had never understood my need for repentance, my need for change, no one had really pointed out sin issues in my life. In our first year of marriage, I remember crying out to God that I didn’t think that I was saved. I asked Him to save me, to change me, and to take away all my sin. I felt completely broken over my sin and I wanted Him to make me clean. So, there I was, the new pastor’s wife, being saved. I was later re-baptized in front of our congregation. It was humbling to stand before them, but I was convinced that since I had not been saved before my first baptism, and because baptism is supposed to be an outward sign of an inward change, that I should be baptized as a believer.
I loved our ministry in South Africa. I loved serving the ladies in the church, teaching in the children’s Sunday school, and ministering alongside my husband. While ministering in South Africa, God allowed several trials into our lives. When our daughter, Ami, was two years old, Brian backed over her with our car. By God’s grace, she survived. Four months later, our two children and I were held up at gunpoint by three men in our home. Five months after that, my dad was shot in an attempted hijacking at my parents’ home. Though the doctors were able to save his life I remember saying to Brian, “I cannot do this anymore!” I was overcome with fear. In the emergency room hall area, after just having seen my dad covered in blood, I asked Brian if he would consider serving in ministry elsewhere. He told me that if we were to go anywhere it would be to Malawi, where he had once served before moving to South Africa. Malawi, which is one of the poorest countries in the world, is the place that I had told everyone on our wedding day that I would not be moving. By the next year, we were in Lilongwe, Malawi, with three children ages three and under.
We had a tremendous time of ministry in Malawi. I loved living in Malawi. I loved the Malawian people. I loved our church there. I loved living on the campus of African Bible College. I loved seeing Brian training up the pastors at the preaching academy and at the college. I loved it that it was only two hours away by plane from South Africa so I could see my folks often. It became a real home for me where we were raising our children without the materialistic pressures of being in a first-world country. We did go through several medical trials while in Malawi. Our family faced malaria, bacterial meningitis, and other serious medical issues. But I never felt like I wanted to leave. There are still days where I find myself longing to be back in Malawi.
However, God had plans for us to be here in California and I need to trust Him fully in whatever He wills. I have had to remind myself often that heaven ultimately is our home and this earth is fading away. The less we are attached to it, the better. I need to be obedient to what the Lord has called me to—to serve and honor Him, to serve and honor my husband, to serve and love my children, to serve and minister to others, whether that be in South Africa, Malawi, the USA, or even in an undesired (by me) cold climate such as Russia.
There are so many ways that God uses trials in our lives and the way He works through them just astounds me. Scripture tells us, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). Trials keep us humble and dependent upon God. Trials help us to examine our priorities and our hearts. Trials allow us to witness to others through demonstrating trust in God’s sovereignty. Trials strengthen our spiritual character, which prepares us to help others. Trials can be exciting because they help us to see God glorified in ways we would not otherwise see. I am thankful for the trials He has brought our way because I have learned so much as God has brought us through them.
Sarah is married to Ace Davis, a 2017 graduate and pastor at Grace Community Church. They have four boys: Axel, Quinn, Levi, and Weston. Watch Ace's Testimony »
It was about 11 years ago that the Lord softened my heart to receive the gospel. I was saved in a charismatic church about the same time my husband, Ace (then boyfriend), was saved. It was a sweet church with wonderful hospitality that preached the gospel faithfully. I was radically changed after giving my life to Christ and I wanted to grow in my relationship with the Lord as much as I could. However, the teaching at my church was lacking depth and my growth seemed stunted. The Bible was intriguing but hard to understand. When I had questions about things like election, or if a person could lose their salvation, those questions could never be answered with certainty by anyone in my church.
I had more and more questions and desired to have a better understanding of God’s Word and what it taught, but week after week those questions went unanswered. In order to feel like we were growing in our walk with God, my husband and I would place stipulations on our life. No shopping on Sundays, no buying products from organizations unless they were pro-life, no buying Christmas trees because it could seem like idol worship, etc. The more this went on the more I felt like a Pharisee heaping burdens on myself and others that God didn’t ordain. My life was becoming all about works, which seemed to contradict Scripture, but I didn’t know what to do and I felt helpless! After all, if I didn’t put extra stipulations on myself, how could I grow?
This works based righteousness continued for about three years. But the Lord in His mercy and grace was soon going to draw me out of that way of thinking through what seemed like a very long trial. It started around the time our first son was one year old. As a typical one year old, it seemed he would get colds and flu every other week. I used this as an opportunity to listen to a Calvary Chapel pastor at my mother-in-law’s church in California. His teaching was like none I had ever heard. My pastor would only preach topically, but this pastor would teach the Bible line by line. He knew the historical background, which enriched the Bible passage we were reading. Soon, I was looking forward to the days when my son would be too sick for church so that I could stay home and listen to this other type of preaching. At first, this did not go over well with my husband who felt like I was betraying our church (where he served as the youth pastor) by listening to another pastor’s teaching. But he did not ask me to stop listening to the teaching, so I continued. I began to understand God’s Word and my walk with the Lord was finally growing deeper. The teaching I was getting had more depth than I had ever experienced before. I began praying that the Lord would bring us to a different church and that He would work on my husband as the spiritual leader of our family
To my delight, six months later my husband felt we needed to move. At this time, we were still charismatic, so we were following “signs” which we thought were leading us to Ventura, CA where Ace was offered a position with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. We packed up and moved 1,100 miles to what we thought would be a glorious place and position. When we arrived, we lived with a friend until things were figured out, since we were told that it would take a month or so for them to raise the funds needed for Ace’s position. One month led to two months and then Ace was told they could not raise sufficient funds to offer him a position. We were crushed. Ace didn’t have a job, we didn’t have a home, and to top it off I had just found out I was six weeks pregnant with our second child. Although discouraged at what the future might hold, we were happy to be plugged into Ace’s mom’s church and we were making friends. The economy was not doing well and it was incredibly difficult for Ace to find a job, but eventually, he found a part-time job and spent his spare time taking a free Bible class online and reading a book by John MacArthur. Six months later, Ace was offered a part-time position as a youth pastor in Spokane, WA. At the same time, another church was interested in him being a youth pastor in Yelm, WA. My mom lived close to Yelm and feeling it was time to move on from California, we moved to Washington to live with her short term while we waited to see which church the Lord would bring us to for ministry.
The church in Yelm was not a good fit for us so Ace called the pastor in Spokane to accept the part-time position there. But just a few days later, the pastor’s wife called Ace to tell him her husband had just been hospitalized and only had a couple of weeks to live, therefore the position was no longer available. This proved to be the most challenging trial yet. We lived in a rural area, with no job prospects, no friends, no church, and I was now six months pregnant. Ace would spend his time applying for jobs and reading more and more of John MacArthur’s books. I would spend my time praying, listening to sermons on CDs, and entertaining our son, Axel, while watching the days tick by toward my due date. It was a very dark and depressing time for both of us. Week after week, we went to a new church trying to find one we liked.
After a few months, a few more of John MacArthur’s books, and our second son’s birth, Ace became convinced of the doctrines of grace and in the importance of expository preaching. After a long search, we found a lovely little church pastored by a TMS graduate that was only 30 minutes away from where we lived. But that was short-lived because only two weeks later, Ace was finally offered a position as the youth director at a small church in Tacoma. After 14 months of wandering from state to state and church to church, the Lord was bringing us to a new church family where Ace could serve. The church gave our family the parsonage attached to the building.
It seemed like things were starting to go well and that we would be able to settle down. However, after a year of serving the church, Ace told me he thought he needed more training and that he should go to seminary. I knew his heart was to be a pastor, so I encouraged him to apply somewhere. His desire was to go to TMS. We prayed that if it was the Lord’s will, He would make provisions for us to go. I had mixed feelings about moving again and about all the unknowns, but at the same time, I had full confidence that the Lord would provide for us. Sure enough, after one month of living out of suitcases at my mother-in-law’s house, the week before classes started, Ace and I were offered a position as apartment property managers just 10 minutes from TMS. Not only did God provide an apartment for us, but we were also able to go to Grace Community Church. We were ecstatic!
Our road of sanctification has been a winding one. Looking back, we can see that a lot of the trials we went through earlier in our marriage were a blessing. They brought us to sound doctrine, deepened our faith in the Lord, and caused us to be thankful for all the ways He provides, big and small. We have been at GCC for four years. Ace is completing his last classes this year and is scheduled to graduate from TMS this May. He will continue serving in Children’s Ministry full-time for a few more years. Ace still has a desire to be a senior pastor, but we have learned over the last 10 years to go where the Lord leads. We are so excited to stay here with our church family at GCC a few years longer. We have had our share of struggles during our time at TMS, but what shines most clearly is the Lord’s faithfulness in our lives.
Trishia is married to Aaron Filbrun, a 2020 graduate. They recently accepted a pastorate in Carlsbad, CA.
Our journey to seminary began in the spring of 2014 when my husband, Aaron, called me on his way home from the Shepherd’s Conference and said that we needed to talk. He asked me to pray. As I prayed, God graciously helped me understand that however, He was calling my husband, I am to be his helper and not his hinderer.
When Aaron finally arrived home, he told me about the TMS informational dinner which he attended the night before, and how all of his excuses for not going to seminary (such as being settled in a home near our families, having four kids, and an established teaching career at a Christian school where our kids had free tuition, etc.) were completely shut down by other seminarians who had come out of similar backgrounds. As we spoke about my husband quitting his job, selling our house, and moving to LA, I initially felt a strange excitement that surprised me. We prayed, sought wise counsel, and when we received only confirmations from the Lord and others, we made plans to move the following year. We learned that no matter where we live if we are in God’s will, it is the perfect place to be. We could have stayed in our home, near our friends and family, and everything that was comfortable and familiar, and yet our hearts would not have been at peace. How could we rest in knowing we were deliberately disobeying God’s calling? The answer was clear… we must go.
After selling our home in less than two weeks, God graciously provided a rental home in the LA area that exceeded expectations. God also provided a home for our family to stay in free of charge until the move to LA. It was here that our five-year-old son, Austin, fell off his bike into a planter and landed on a broken tile that deeply cut his knee. After a trip to the emergency room and sixteen stitches, we brought him back home. The next day, Austin’s knee had turned black, his leg was swollen and red, and he was running a 102-degree fever. We headed back to the emergency room. Austin was quickly transferred to a nearby hospital where they started antibiotics. We were amazed and thankful to learn that their medical insurance was still in effect though Aaron’s job was over. Each day, instead of getting better, Austin continued to get worse. He was in excruciating pain and the swelling was spreading to his entire body. In God’s providence, Austin was transferred to an Oakland hospital where the top pediatric surgeon was called in to operate on him. After this surgery, Austin’s whole body continued to swell and he continued to be in excruciating pain. After a second surgery and many nights where we feared Austin would lose his leg—or even his life—the doctors discovered that Austin had a very rare bacterial infection. Once they were able to treat this infection Austin, by God’s grace, began to improve.
Every day brought new challenges and I constantly had to remind myself that God was leading us by His love and grace each and every step of the way. God continued to strengthen us as Austin endured multiple surgeries, was weaned off of strong drugs, and struggled through painful physical therapy. When Austin wouldn’t eat or take his medicine, we told him, “It’s for your best, it’s going to help you get stronger and better!” As I was saying that, I knew that God was telling me the same thing. We may not always understand why we have to go through such pain and misery, but God’s ways are always higher than our ways. If we put our trust in God and set our hope fully on Him, He will make us much better and stronger than if things were perfect and happy all of the time.
We met a couple in the hospital whose son had arrived in the PICU the same time as Austin. They were also Christians, so it was really amazing to be able to pray for and encourage one another. When the dad told his son the story of Abraham and Issac on the alter, his son asked him, “So, you mean you’re sacrificing me?” Hearing this story helped us realize that this was the point we had to come to with our own son. We had to completely give Austin to God, entirely release him into His loving hands, trusting in the Lord’s sovereignty and goodness no matter the outcome.
I cannot put into words that kind of heart-wrenching sacrifice. You cannot know what it is like to let go of the control that you so desperately want to believe you have. I can never describe how it feels to totally release your child over to whatever God’s perfect will is. Only God can teach us this amazingly valuable lesson in our darkest moments of despair.
When everything humanly possible has been done, when you reach the end of yourself,
when modern medicine and technology just isn’t enough, when all hope seems lost,
that is when you look beyond the hospital room to where your hope truly lies.
We are so grateful for the loving prayer, support, and encouragement that surrounded us each day as we spent two weeks in the PICU, and another two weeks in the Pediatric Ward. Austin’s doctors and nurses were exceptionally comforting and encouraging when we felt confused and helpless, even buying Austin gifts and taking me to the cafeteria! There were people from all over (Many of whom we didn’t even know!) constantly sending us kind messages, thoughtful cards, gifts, care packages, and continually praying for Austin.
Aaron could not work, so we had no income for over a month, but we were utterly shocked in how many ways God provided for all of our needs and expenses through the kindness and generosity of others! Our generous friends paid for and packed our moving truck, and drove all of our stuff to LA where more kind friends met them at our new house and unloaded the truck—all while we were still in the hospital! There were also many friends and family members who drove all the way to Oakland just to visit and help us, which brought us so much encouragement.
Ultimately, we know that there are many reasons why God allowed us to go through this trial. Medical people are currently processing a case report on Austin and spoke about doing some research on his lab work. Maybe Austin’s case will help save someone else’s life someday. We were able to share our faith with many people, and when some of Austin’s nurses and doctors commented on how “well” we were handling things, we were able to give God the glory.
Another obvious reason for our trial is how much it gave us a heart for other parents going through these same kinds of trials with their children. I know, when exactly three years earlier, I suddenly lost my dad, the people who brought me the most comfort were those who had also lost a parent. As we walked through this valley, it was other parents who had felt the pain of watching their child suffer, who offered us the most encouragement. We know that we will be able to fully minister to the needs of others in such a deeper way now that we can better understand how it feels to care for a suffering child. Looking back, it is clear to see God’s hand of guidance and provision amidst the storm.