Miraculous birth at Foothills Church, members rally to support child with cerebral palsy

By Jan Kelley, Foothills Christian Church, El Cajon, Calif., and Joy Spriggs, CHM Group Membership Advisor 

From the September 2018 issue of Heartfelt Magazine.

Jan Kelley: Our Foothills Christian Church (FCC) staff has nearly 130 employees and about 50 more that make up our pre-kindergarten through high school education ministry. I oversee employee benefits and a few years ago I sought to counteract our church’s ever-increasing healthcare costs.

CHM’s ability to serve groups intrigued me; I spent a great deal of time researching more about the program and asking questions. The potential savings were significant, but we also wanted a healthcare program that would better serve our staff.

Joy Spriggs: Switching to CHM’s Gold program would save FCC roughly $100,000 annually and those funds would be redirected toward numerous ministries within the church, is what you told our CHM staff. Still, you indicated you were most encouraged by the prayer and spiritual support employees would receive.

Jan: If you would have asked me back then what I liked most about the “nuts and bolts” of CHM, I would have said it’s because members can receive treatment from any doctor or hospital, they don’t need pre-approval for treatment and that they’re in charge of their own healthcare decisions.

While those assurances have blessed our staff, another—and more personal—reason now comes to mind: a miraculous birth and how CHM rallied to support one of our very own, Ryden Hoffman. His dad, Neil, is one of our pastors.

Joy: I remember first hearing about the complications surrounding little Ryden’s birth. His mother’s uterus ruptured during labor, which caused severe brain damage. He was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for three weeks and for four months he was under hospice care with little chance of survival.

Jan: He was unable to eat or swallow and doctors didn’t expect him to return home. But God had different plans: One of the most reputable specialist doctors in the United States heard about his condition and donated her time to perform a stem cell transplant. She offered to do the transplant in an ethical way that doesn’t violate Christian beliefs: by using umbilical cord blood stem cells from Trey, one of Ryden’s brothers.

Our church staff and members were nervous and prayed Ryden’s iron levels would climb high enough to undergo the procedure. Through prayer and God’s amazing grace, he underwent the transplant as an outpatient.

Though he takes more time to do things than other kids, he loves books, sits up, and is even crawling now. Today he is a thriving four-year-old boy and proof that God does indeed still perform miracles.

Joy: As a benefit to FCC employees, you prepare and submit to CHM medical forms and bills on their behalf, correct?

Jan: That’s right. Ryden’s birth was our staff’s first medical incident and I felt a great responsibility to the Hoffman family and my church. I also wanted to be the best steward of members’ money when I spoke with Ryden’s healthcare providers. CHM gave me advice for each step of the medical bill sharing process and taught me how to obtain the best possible price.

Joy: I know that at the time of Ryden’s birth CHM members shared almost $48,000 after $14,000 in discounts. Since then, CHM shared bills for brain disease and cerebral palsy—a total of $224,000 after more than $268,000 in discounts. The ministry has also shared medical costs for other families under the FCC group membership, including bills for cancer, kidney stones, hernia repair, anemia, injuries, allergies and more.

Jan: I really appreciate the relationship we have with CHM. It’s one that feels mutually supportive—a friendship in which we pray for one another. All ministry staff are eager to go the extra mile to help and express their love for CHM members. In fact, at one point you were in the El Cajon area and took the time to visit our church. It helped put a face to a name and was also another expression of CHM’s care and support.

Editor’s note: CHM has hundreds of participating groups of varying sizes. To learn more about the advantages and unique requirements of CHM group membership, email our groups team.

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