Who Am I?  Part 10

For those who have been following me in this series which gives a rough outline of my major life events, we come now to a pivotal year for both Jill and me.  It was 1987, we had been married for three years, and both of us had completed our studies for our vocations.  Jill received her Nursing Diploma, and I had finished my Master of Divinity Degree.  You can read about these things here.

After a number of years of education, some short-term mission experiences, some practicum work for Jill and some minor ministry experiences for me, we felt like we were ready to go out and make a difference in the world.  While still in school, Jill attended a hospital recruitment meeting and things fell into place, and the next thing you know we were packing a U-Haul to head to Texas.  In addition to this, Jill announced with excitement, “WE’RE PREGNANT!”

Now I must admit that I was more stunned than excited at this announcement.  But as the weeks and months crept along, I began to really warm up to the idea of being a father.  There were a few little snags in our paper work to cross into the States, which caused us to delay and stay with my folks for over a month.  So by the time we finally started out with our U-Haul, there was definitely 2 1/2 people ready for the adventure that lie ahead.

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We arrived in Port Arthur, Texas where Jill would work at a charity hospital (which the recruiter had promoted as a great place to work just off of the Gulf of Mexico).  He neglected to tell us that most of the bay area around Port Arthur was filled with oil refineries which blocked the view of the Gulf and blackened the port and town area around them.

But we were young, and it was an adventure in many ways for us.  And one of the first adventures for us was to find a church to fellowship with.  Having just graduated from a Christian and Missionary Alliance seminary, we looked for one of these in the area, but the closest C&MA church was 50 miles away in Baytown.  This wasn’t too bad, as it gave us time to talk and be together on the drive to and from Baytown each Sunday.

As a result of these visits we made regularly to this church, something very interesting happened.  I was approached one day by the pastor of the Baytown church and asked if I would be interested in helping to start a new church in Beaumont, the large city next to Port Arthur.  I accepted the offer as I saw this as a way to serve God.

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The excitement of this new ministry opportunity was almost immediately crushed as Jill and I experienced the most bitter of all events, the death of our child.  Jill was 29 weeks pregnant in October of 1987.  There was no warning and no indication of anything wrong.  One day our baby was alive and kicking hard, and then the next day there was no movement.

We couldn’t believe anything bad had happened, until finally after waiting anxiously for a doctor’s report, they informed us that the child had in fact died in the womb.  Because Jill was so far along, it was necessary to have her induced to deliver our daughter.  When it was over, we held our little Deborah in our arms.  She was over a foot long and almost looked like she was sleeping, except that she wasn’t breathing.

The doctors have never to this day explained to us what happened.  It was an inter-uterine death, but no cause could be found.  That day in October was the blackest day of our entire lives, and it continued to cast a shadow and have a negative effect upon us for many years after.  One wise person said to us, “The intensity of the pain will never really go away, just the frequency of it.”

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There is no doubt that we were in pain because of this event.  For many days there was a sense of emptiness in our apartment.  Jill took a few days off to recover physically.  The hospital and the doctors were so gracious to cancel our medical bills, so we were not hurt financially.  But the emotional and spiritual impact of this tragedy was very huge.

The church people in Baytown were so good to us.  Some of them visited us, or sent us flowers and cards.  The pastor visited us quite a few times.  And with his support and encouragement, we still went ahead and tried to lay down the foundation for a new church plant in Beaumont.  I think us moving from our apartment in Port Arthur to Beaumont was good for us.  But even after a year of hard work, this church plant also did not get birthed and it was closed down when we came back to Canada.

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Of all the different aspects of this major life crisis for us, there is one memory that stands out the most.  Jill and I had gone to the cemetery where we had buried Deborah.  We knelt down by the unmarked cross and held hands and gently cried together.  Then we sang a song together to reaffirm our faith and hope in God.

But while we were there, another woman came and knelt down by her child’s little cross.  Then she broke out into wailing and threw herself on to the ground and wept in great torment at the loss of her child.  Jill and I quietly left that woman to her grief, but we could leave the cemetery with the song still in our heart.  The song says:

“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow; because He lives, all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because He lives.”

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