Our family decided to join Christian Healthcare Ministries in 2014 for two reasons: our insurance premiums were skyrocketing and we only had catastrophic medical coverage that didn’t include maternity.
With CHM we’d be paying half as much as we did for insurance, we’d be part of a network of Christians and we’d have access to a great maternity program. The best “perk” was that we could participate in CHM while serving as missionaries in Uganda, Africa.*
We were a little uncertain of CHM because it’s very different from insurance, but it was clear that this was God’s path for us.
We were eager to welcome a new little one into the world, but in early 2015 we were devastated to experience a miscarriage. Just eight weeks later I had morning sickness again and we rejoiced that God blessed us with new life growing inside me. After 10 weeks of 24-hour-per-day “morning” sickness, we visited the doctor and were elated to hear our baby’s strong heartbeat and tiny movements.
We told the doctor that in two weeks we planned to return to Uganda with the children’s choir we’d been touring with in the United States for six months. I intended to give birth in Uganda. We planned to live there as full-time missionaries after 10 years of traveling between the two countries while directing Shaddai Ministries, a missions organization.
The doctor took my hands and said she really wasn’t comfortable with us being in such a remote area without medical facilities nearby. She was concerned about the pregnancy being on the heels of a miscarriage and because I was so sick.
Crestfallen, we sought the Lord’s will on what to do. After much prayer we decided to submit to the discernment of our doctor and remain in the U.S. for the pregnancy.
We praise God that it turned out to be the right decision. I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness). The symptoms persisted for 21 more weeks and intensified to the point that I had to receive intravenous fluids and significantly limit physical activity just to make it through the day. Nevertheless, we were still very excited to meet our family’s new addition.
At 31 weeks gestation I awoke one night with extreme pain and nausea, the likes of which I’d never experienced. I woke my husband, Steven, fearing something was very wrong. I’d had gallstones before so I thought that was the cause.
My condition grew worse by the moment. After phoning the on-call physician we went to the hospital, where doctors determined that I had preeclampsia, eclampsia, and HELLP syndrome. These are serious pregnancy complications and my liver and other organs began to shut down.
We were suddenly thrust into a world we never knew existed.
The baby had to be delivered immediately because we both were in critical condition and faced a less than 10-minute survival window. “It’s way too early for our son to be born,” was all I thought about as I was whisked off to emergency surgery. In the operating room our doctor joined a team of 14 physicians who had gathered for prayer. God’s peace was present in the midst of the crisis, and moments later we heard the tiny cries of our son. Only 16 inches long and weighing just three pounds and one ounce, Joshua Benjamin was rescued from my womb and rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Scared but grateful for God’s provision, I remained in the special care unit for a week and Joshua was in the NICU for the next five weeks.
Three days after the birth I called CHM from my hospital bed. The medical bills seemed to be mounting by the moment. The person I needed to talk to at CHM was in a prayer meeting.
At first I was frustrated, then I chuckled because I realized that probably no one else in the hospital could say they had to call their “insurance” company (which CHM isn’t) back because the staff members were busy praying! That thought was like a ray of sunshine in my room.
That afternoon I spoke with CHM staff member Heather Farmer, who encouraged me to focus on the baby and regaining my health. She said we didn’t have anything to worry about because we are CHM Gold members with Brother’s Keeper.** We learned that to be “covered” by CHM is to also be covered in prayer.
Indeed, one of the first nights we were at Joshua’s bedside, we prayed for him and read the Bible aloud. One of his nurses said, “I can walk through the NICU and tell which of the 100 babies here are covered in prayer. They do better, they go home faster, and the peace they have is visible in their vital signs and temperament. Joshua is undoubtedly one of those covered babies.”
As she cared for our son that night she hummed the hymn, “How Great Thou Art.” I will never forget those words or her actions. It was so difficult to leave our tiny son there in the NICU fighting for his life; however, I had such peace as my husband wheeled me back to my own hospital room.
God continued to “show up” in mighty ways. We explained to the hospital staff that we are missionaries and they were gracious and easy to work with. Our medical bills were over $300,000, but were discounted by over 66 percent! CHM, too, was wonderful and worked to get our remaining expenses shared promptly.
Before Joshua was six months old, we were free and clear of all the medical bills. The health crisis that could have been devastating had a beautiful ending. Today Joshua is a little over a year old and is thriving. God has been good to bring steady healing to my body as well, and I can say that the joys of motherhood far outweighed the physical setbacks and challenges.
What we learned because of our health crisis is that God is truly involved in the details of each and every life. We saw Him work in His provision of CHM, a Christian doctor who encouraged us to remain in the country and a hospital that offered generous discounts.
I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that we were able to remain grateful and in great peace throughout our time of testing and now we share with others how God so graciously met our every need. We praise Him for CHM’s staff and members—our brothers and sisters in Christ. *Editor’s note: For information on how CHM works internationally, please see Guidelines B and J.1 at chministries.org/guidelines.
**To learn more about Brother’s Keeper, see chministries.org/catastrophicbills