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we’re made to be something more — the church

It was the ultimate tragedy. Our 6-year-old son, Robbie, recovering from chickenpox, became agitated and fevered. Rushed to University Hospital, we were told he had chickenpox encephalitis. Already he had lost consciousness.

With Ester Eldred of our Church looking after the rest of our kids and Grandmother Stauffer on the way, Barbara and I settled in at the hospital to wait and watch and pray. As much as we could, we were in his room, but nearby was a small family room where we could take a break. From the start, it was a 24-hour watch.

On that first day the Pickerills were there to offer prayer and support, followed by others of our church family. When night came, they assured us that at any time, day or night, someone from our Church would be in that family room.

They would just sit with us, or talk with us, or pray with us. Most important, they would BE THERE. And they were—always. We could take a nap, get a back rub, go downstairs for a bite, or whatever, but we were not alone.

The days stretched out. Robbie did not regain consciousness. We learned that if he lived, he would almost certainly be blind. Other losses would likely be his to live with. We faced two alternatives — neither one good. He might survive, heavily handicapped, or he might not survive. But whatever was to happen, we were never alone.

A young Japanese couple who had become part of the church, came each evening on their way home from the library to take us, one at a time, to the chapel and to give us a special Japanese massage. Pastors from other congregations came by to pray with us. Several offered to fill the pulpit while I could not. We were not alone!

Robby died, fifteen days later. But not before Barbara had expressed the vital truth that we had learned. “Now” she said, “I finally understand what the psalm means when it says ‘underneath are he everlasting arms.’”

The loss was all but overwhelming. But so was the triumph of faith made incarnate by our Christian family. That’s what “Church” is all about! —R. Fuller