I want to express my sincere thanks for the concern and prayers that many of you had made related to our unborn daughter. I cannot fully verbalize what the prayers of the saints have meant but I can share a story. Yesterday, I went to a local coffee shop to do what I do best, and I met a young man who identified himself as a believer of Jesus Christ. He then proceeded to tell me that as I sat next to him he “felt” that I had some serious prayer over me. Either the spirit of caffeine was speaking or the Holy Spirit but I honestly believe this was a “God moment.”
The journey to this point has been one of the most spiritually deep and theologically challenging times of my life.
Since I last wrote, much has happened both concerning the condition of our daughter’s heart as well as my own. We have found out that our daughter’s heart defect is called pulmonary atresia, a closing of the pulmonary valve stopping blood flow from the heart to the lungs. If things go as planned (do they ever?), our daughter will need open heart surgery soon after birth to graft in a pulmonary valve. As her heart grows, she will need to continue getting new pulmonary valves grafted in. However, other than open-heart surgeries, our daughter will be able to live a “normal” life. In a strange way, I am looking forward to our daughter getting open-heart surgery. Also, the journey to this point has been one of the most spiritually deep and theologically challenging times of my life. I have shifted from telling God what he must do for my daughter, of course in Jesus’ name, to “reminding” God of God’s faithful resume. In reminding God, I am actually reminding myself that the fate of my daughter is not in my hands but in the One who “got the whole world in his hands.”
Even deeper than my remembrance of God’s ability is the way that the Lord has put me in position to remind others of the nearness of Jesus. Last Wednesday, my wife and I took a tour of Children’s Hospital to meet our daughter’s surgeon and tour the floor where our daughter will be spending her newborn life (possibly for a month). As we met with the surgeon, I asked her is she would be offended if we pray with and for her. With her permission, we held her hands and reminded her (and us) that another pair of hands is involved in this process.
As we met with the surgeon, I asked her is she would be offended if we pray with and for her. With her permission, we held her hands and reminded her (and us) that another pair of hands is involved in this process.
We confessed that these mighty, nail pierced hands, held the power of life, death, and everything in between. Before we left the hospital, we found ourselves praying with two separate families that have become “neighbors” due to their children have critical congenital heart defects. As we stood in the “Sun Room” holding hands in prayer, I became increasingly aware that I was supposed to be exactly “where” I was. I have stopped trying to answer the deeper question as to “why” I was there. So, we continue to fight. We, those hurting families’ across the world, need to be reminded that God is not only present in our pain but active within it. We fight to not allow that fear and negativity that abounds around us, and often with in us, to control us. We fight to not allow our present circumstances to define us but the present memory and presence of a God who refuses to let us go.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3:1-2, NIV).
The Rev. Keith Kaufold ’07/’12 is the lead pastor of a circuit that includes United Methodist Churches in West Homestead, Swissvale, and Millville; pastor of Community United Methodist Church in Aspinwall; and founding pastor of Eighth Avenue Place—a church plant and Christian community that confronts the ignorance that perpetuates racism and lives and ministers together in the name of Jesus Christ. Keith is currently enrolled in the master’s in social work program at California University of Pennsylvania.