Editor's Note: John Van Voorhis is a member of GPTS Board of Trustees and holds a Master of Ministry for Ruling Elders degree from the seminary. He is an elder and member of Covenant Community Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Taylors, S.C.
By John Van Voorhis
A certain family had a baby born to them several decades ago. After a long labor he was born on a late winter’s night – chubby and cute as all babies are. A few months later a friend noticed that he seemed very chubby in the neck area. Their pediatric doc agreed and he was sent for X-ray. A massive tumor was discovered throughout his entire chest, encompassing his vital organs such as heart, lungs, etc.
His parents were very concerned, and enlisted the prayers of those in their church and of old friends up and down the east coast. The day of his surgery was extremely stressful. His parents were praying almost constantly through the four-hour surgery it took to remove the tumor. It was found to be benign, however. The parents returned to their house late that night and found that the baby’s older brother had come down with a case of roseola and a temperature over 104! It had been a very long day for them, but now things seemed under control.
Because the baby was being breast fed, his mother had to stay in the hospital with him. In a few days he developed an infection and had to be returned to surgery. Once again the prayer warriors were summoned. His chest looked like it had a very long zipper but in a few weeks he began to recover. But during that period, another incident occurred. A technician appeared at the door and announced he had to give the baby a shot. The mother grew suspicious, for she had not been told of any medication to be given. It turned out that the identification bracelet had fallen off the baby’s tiny arm and the technician thought he was in the right room and that therefore, the child must be the one to receive the shot. The hospital never revealed whether that shot might have endangered the baby’s life. The mother saved him by demanding to know why a shot was to be given. Of course, the technician had the wrong child!
The baby took months to recover completely because there was a hole in his chest and the parents had to feed gauze into the cavity daily while the wound healed from the inside out. It was painful for the father to restrain the screaming child as the mother carefully poked the gauze into the opening. Eventually, the wound healed. The baby had residual effects from the cutting of a nerve which prevented him from sweating on one side, making one eye a different color from the other, and giving him a droopy eyelid. Corrective surgery was done a few years later to improve the eye problem and unevenness of his chest.
Despite those traumatic events, the child grew to be healthy and athletic, and academically well above average. He became a Christian, married a wonderful Christian wife, and has prospered in his business.
So why am I writing all this? Because that little baby whose life as an infant seemed to be in great peril became one of Greenville Seminary’s largest contributors. We who have supported the seminary in its work should give thanks for the prayers of God’s people on that day of surgery, and for months thereafter. And there is another story of prayer even decades earlier, but I shall withhold that perhaps until another time.