WORDS OF THE FATHER
My wife, Agnes, and I were involved in the preparation of the Hosanna Outreach services (English evangelical service), held in Irvine Church in Southern California in 2001. Our lives were smooth at that time. But on the morning of October 7, 2001, the day of the last outreach service in Irvine Church, our lives changed.
That morning, Agnes told me she had a very bad dream. In her dream, she saw Heather become suddenly ill and died. Needless to say, this bothered her immensely; however, I disregarded the dream as one of her maternal paranoia encounters.
Later, Agnes left the house with Heatherâ€™s older sister, Amber, to go to choir practice before the service while I waited for our nanny to come and take care of Heather.
At around eleven oâ€™clock, I found Heather lying on the sofa and I checked up on her and discovered that she was running a fever at 102 degrees Fahrenheit. I immediately gave her some Childrenâ€™s Tylenol and thought the medicine should last until I came back from church around four or five oâ€™clock.
I stayed with Heather for as long as I could to monitor her progress, and I gave the nanny instructions to keep tab on her temperature and to have her encourage Heather to eat and drink whatever she liked or could stomach. And if Heatherâ€™s fever continued she should call us.
At about one oâ€™clock in the afternoon, I left for Irvine Church and told Agnes about Heatherâ€™s fever and asked her to keep Heather in her prayers.
The evangelical service went smoothly that day. Agnes called home and checked on Heatherâ€™s situation and everything seemed well. Agnes went home around 4:30 p.m., and I left Irvine Church an hour later. Agnes called me to buy some take-out and told me that Heatherâ€™s temperature went up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit again. I told her that I would be home soon.
Losing Our Daughter
After I bought dinner, Agnes called me again and said that Heather had lost consciousness. She called 911 for an ambulance to send Heather to the emergency room.
By that time, I was only a few minutes away from home. When I walked in the door, I saw Agnes on top of Heatherâ€”sobbing with the phone in her hand and trying to communicate with the 911 operator.
I thought Agnes was going to perform CPR on Heather but then the ambulance arrived. We called for Heather to respond, but her body remained motionless, and her eyes were rolled up as if she were dead.
I was shocked, traumatized, and at a loss of what to do next. I helplessly stood and watched the paramedics do their work. They first removed Heatherâ€™s clothes and asked me to give them a warm wet towel. I ran back from the restroom with the towel to see what they were doing to my daughter.
I realized that they were trying everything to get her to respond and to cool down, but she still did not react and her eyes showed no signs of movement.
She was completely silentâ€”not even a moan or a groan. The paramedics put an oxygen mask on her and tried to get her to respond. She did not move. I started sobbing silently because I remembered what Agnes told me that morning about her dream.
They put Heather on a stretcher and put her in the ambulance. The paramedics said that Heather was still alive but she needed to be sent to the emergency ward. Agnes went with them, and I stayed behind with Amber to gather things that they needed for a possible hospital stay.
Calling for Help
I promised Agnes that I would contact the pastors in the area and ask for their prayers. I called a pastor who was here from Northern California to assist with the Hosanna Outreach services.
I then called our resident pastor. When I started talking to him, I could not hold it together any longer and started to cry out loud, because I just could not bear the possibility of losing Heather.
After that, I called a couple of friends and family members to ask for their prayers. I kept sobbing, thinking about what Agnes had said to me that morning. Every detail of her dream was coming true and I was losing control of myself.
When I gained my composure, I was thinking more clearly and decided to leave Amber with my sister, Mary, who lived close by. Then, I went straight to the emergency room of the hospital where they took Heather.
As I drove to the hospital, I started to think about my faith and wondered if I had what it took to deal with the consequences. I was so overwhelmed by this incident that I didnâ€™t even cry out to God for help. Why did I not think of turning to God for help? I realized how weak my faith was.
I began to understand that this experience was from God and realized that if God wanted to take Heather back, I should stop feeling helpless. I should be thankful for His mercy in bringing her to her heavenly home if that was His will.
But was this Godâ€™s time? Was God allowing Satan to try our faith to see if we were able to stand? If God allowed this to happen, would the membersâ€™ faith be shaken? I said to God, â€œMay Your will be done.â€
When I arrived at the hospital and found Agnes and Heather in the emergency room, I saw Heather lying on the gurney with nothing but her diaper on, smiling at me as I approached.
It was then that I knew everything was going to be fine. Her time had not yet come! Thank God. I immediately felt the presence of members who prayed for my daughter, and I believe that the Lord heard their prayers.
Life is So Fragile
After the nurse checked on her, I heard Heather singing This is My Fatherâ€™s World. She sang it verbatim for about three quarters of the first stanza. I couldnâ€™t believe she was praising God and showing us about Godâ€™s love and power over life.
Tears rolled down my eyes while I listened to this three-year-old singâ€”it was amazing how God was letting this little girl experience something that I wasnâ€™t experiencing. When she finished, I asked her how she knew that hymn: â€œDid mommy sing it to you earlier?â€ She said, â€œNo.â€ I later confirmed it with Agnes.
Life is so fragile. We have learned that we should not take things for granted. At times like these, Agnes and I feel that nothing else matters because Heather is our beloved child, for whom we would sacrifice our lives to save.
As I held Heather, I asked God why He allowed this to happen. What did He want me to learn from this? I immediately heard a voice in my heart saying, â€œIf you love Heather this much, can you love my sheep just as much?â€ I was stunned. I couldnâ€™t stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks. I believe this is a question we all need to ask ourselves from time to timeâ€”to keep ourselves humble.
The Lord instructed us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but our practices are so far from Godâ€™s standard. Do we really love others as ourselves? Until we can love someone whom we can see, how can we say that we love the Lord Jesus whom we cannot see?
I truly thank God for everyoneâ€™s prayers and the love they showed Heather and my family. We are deeply touched by the love of the family of believers in Christ Jesus.
WORDS OF THE MOTHER
A Disturbing Dream
The night before the last Hosanna Outreach service in Irvine Church, I had a very disturbing dream. In my dream, Heather, our second child, looked at me with dimming eyes and told me she was losing her sight. I didnâ€™t respond to her right away and very soon after she was gone.
I cried to God and asked why Heatherâ€™s life was taken. All of a sudden, I woke up and saw Heather sleeping safely next to me. I held her close to me and thanked God that it was only a bad dream.
The next morning, I told Dave about the dream and tried to get it out of my mind. I then went to Irvine Church for the choir practice. Around noon, Dave called and told me that Heather was running a fever. I usually would not worry too much, but because of the bad dream the night before, I became very concerned.
Although we had arranged a nanny to baby-sit Heather while we were at church, I still wanted to go home to take care of her. However, since we had invited our friends to the service, I encouraged myself that God would take care of Heather because we were doing sacred work in church.
After our friends left the service, I went home to check on Heatherâ€™s condition. I arrived home around 5:40 p.m.; the nanny told me that Heatherâ€™s temperature had risen again.
I checked her temperature and it was close to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. I thought Dave had given her Motrin, which would have lasted six hours (but later I found out he had given her Childrenâ€™s Tylenol, which lasted for four hours). Our girls have managed higher temperatures before, so I wasnâ€™t too anxious.
After the nanny left and Dave was on the way home, I knelt down to pray for Heather and I was filled with the Holy Spirit in that prayer. Afterwards, I decided to play some hymns for her. She lay on the sofa in the family room, while I was in the piano room next to it.
While I was singing and playing the piano, I heard Heather telling her older sister, Amber, that she was feeling better already. I felt comforted. Amber gave her some soft candy, and they were talking and laughing. After a few hymns, I thought I should sing some hymns for Heather, so I brought my hymnbook and sat on the floor facing her.
A Turn for the Worse
As I sang the second verse, Heather was still smiling at me. Then suddenly, she stopped smiling and became very serious. Then she started to jerk as though something had hit her nerve, and she looked dazed.
I called her name but it seemed like she did not hear my voice. Her eyes were fixed on something distant. I tried to open her mouth to remove the candy she was chewing on, but she wouldnâ€™t cooperate and her teeth were clenched so tight I couldnâ€™t pry them apart.
It sounded like she needed to regurgitate, so I quickly picked her up, took her to the bathroom, and leaned her face towards the toilet bowl. By this time her body was soft like jelly.
Suddenly, she started jerking again, and images of my dream flashed across my mind. The look on her face was like the images in my dream. I kept calling out to God and begged for His help because I was not ready to accept the fact that Heather would be taken away or would become paralyzed.
I cried to God not to take Heather away from me. I looked at her lifeless body and kept saying, â€œNo! No!â€ I simply could not believe my nightmare was coming true and even doubted if God was there for me.
I tried calling a sister to pray for Heather, but she had not returned home from church. I held Heatherâ€™s lifeless body and called 911. In my panic, I asked the 911 operator to send some help as my lips uttered, â€œGod please help us!â€
She asked me whether Heather was still breathing, and I said I didnâ€™t know if she was still alive. I could not feel her heart beatâ€”just my own. The 911 operator told me not to hold her but to lay her down, undress her, and put her on her side.
She suggested that I should calm down and continue to talk to Heather because she might still hear my voice and that I shouldnâ€™t let her sense my fear. I calmed myself down, touched Heatherâ€™s body and told her that I love her. I noticed that her eyes and mouth twitched slightly and responded when I spoke to her.
Shortly after, the ambulance came and the paramedics began administering oxygen. When they took her temperature, it had already risen to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. In the ambulance, I gazed at her tiny body laying on the huge stretcherâ€”holding onto the teddy bear the paramedics gave her, and all I could think of was my childâ€™s life and well-being.
While all this was going on, Dave was contacting church members and asking for urgent prayers. One of the calls was to the Garden Grove Church. A USGA meeting was taking place, and all the participants stopped the meeting to pray for Heather. I was deeply moved and thankful for their love.
God is the Giver of Life
In the emergency room, the doctor diagnosed Heather with a viral throat infection, which caused the sudden high fever and resulted in the febrile seizure. After some medicine and observation, Heather was sent home to recover.
Later, I discussed with a doctor friend about Heatherâ€™s symptoms and was told that it is not rare for children under five years of age to have febrile seizures caused by sudden spikes in body temperature.
Looking back, I realized that it was my negligence that caused me to lose Heather in my dream. If not for the instructions of the 911 operator, I would not know how to deal with the situation effectively and safely. Worse, I might have aggravated Heatherâ€™s condition.
I learned a lot from this incident. I truly experienced that God is the giver of life and that spiritual warfare is also inevitable as we learn to serve the Lord. I also learned that we should never take our childrenâ€™s lives for granted but to cherish every moment with them. Now, seeing Heather being her usual self means more than anything in the world to me.
May all the glory be given unto God.