by JiYoung Lee
Before I start my story, let me tell you about myself briefly. I was an atheist for over 30 years, and I grew up under atheist parents who were influenced by Buddhist teachings and many cultural superstitions. Also, I am married to an atheist husband. I felt hostile to Christians because I was surrounded by bunch of atheists and thought that only weak people believed and depended on God. And most importantly, I doubted the existence of God. This is all you need to know about me before starting my story.
In December 2011, I attended Michelle’s Focus group in Suji with my one-year-old son, even though I was neither a Christian nor a member of the Nations church member. One of my friends, Yuri, invited me to that group, and I joined it once as a trial. To be honest, I only wanted fellowship and a free opportunity to learn English. I was not interested in the Bible study at all. All the ladies there were so kind and friendly, and I felt the warm welcome of the group. But as a non-Christian, I felt guilty about participating in the Bible study only for the fellowship and free English lessons, so I never returned to the group.
Six months later, I was invited to another mom’s focus group, and I had such a good time agin. I was moved by these devoted ladies, and I decided to give it a try to go to to church and see how it goes. I wondered and became curious about what on earth made these moms with their young babies and kids, so devoted and faithful to so called “God”.
In June 2012, I went to The Nations church for the first time, and I attended the church on and off since that day. The sermon was too difficult for me because of my lack of knowledge of the Bible. So I spent most of my time in the family room connecting with other moms with babies, and I got to know some more moms and connected with them.
My life was still so peaceful and successful on a smooth road without any difficulty, so I didn’t need God yet. Even if God had spoken to me back then, I would pushed Him out of my life like an unwanted solicitor. I was so arrogant. God needed to humble me. God needed to break my life which was built on the foundations of this world, so He could save me and rebuild my life on His foundation. I was His precious lost one, and He needed to bring me back to his arms.
In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away
Then all the walls around my safe castle collapsed in September 2012.
They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
At the 28th week of my pregnancy, we visited the ob/gyn for a regular pregnancy checkup, and something went seriously wrong. My husband and I were so happy to see our long awaited daughter’s blurry face through sonogram and excitedly talked about who she looked like. Then the doctor called us back to her office and announced that my baby’s lungs and brain were filled with water. It was called hydros fetalis ( 태아수종).
To make matters worse, I was diagnosed with hydramnion (양수과다), which means I have too much water in my belly, 3-4 times more than normal pregnant women. My doctor recommended us to visit Seoul National University Hospital in Bundang for more accurate examination and treatment. Doctors in that huge hospital were even more pessimistic and scary. They told us that this pregnancy was dangerous to keep for both my baby and me. And even if I decided to keep this pregnancy until the due date, there was a 50/50 chance of a stillborn baby. Also they warned us that even if my baby survives, she would have breathing problems due to water in her lungs and the possibility of developmental disabilities due to the water in her brain.
But what can we do? My baby was already 7-8 months old and we already shared so many memories with her. In a heartbeat, we decided to keep this baby, and I was admitted to the hospital and had surgery to remove water from my belly and my baby’s lungs with a long needle. It was more painful than the actual labor. But the worst pain was not the physical one. It hurt so much to think that I might lose this precious baby, and also I missed my first son so badly, who was missing me at his grandparents’ house for a week. Since the birth of my son Noah, we had never been separated until this time, and I felt guilty not being with him. I cried in the hospital bed, and my son was crying in my parents’ house.
During one of those painful days, Pastor Jo and Danelle, a lady from the church Bible study visited me at the hospital. Pastor Jo and Danelle listened attentively to my agony and prayed for my unborn child and my family. I didn’t understand her prayer perfectly due to my lack of biblical knowledge back then, but it comforted me a lot! And an unexplainable peace came to my mind.
How can the prayer that I didn’t understand bring me such an amazing peace of mind? I didn’t know the reason back then, but I do now. The prayer was not for me to understand, but for God to hear. And God heard and answered the prayer.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
God had sent workers to rebuild my life, and this time – life in Christ.
Also they told me that many church members were joined in prayers for my baby and my family. To pray for a stranger who attended church for only a few months? What an act of kindness! I was impressed and encouraged by these church members.
Since the prayer and the visit of faithful ladies, I regained my tranquility, and read the mini prayer book for moms over and over. And instead of crying and looking for the best hospital and best doctors for this calamity, I prayed. The prayer didn’t change the situation right away. The baby was still sick in my womb, and I was still suffering physical pain, but no longer suffered from mental pain anymore. I somehow had the confidence that my baby would be fine.
As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.
Long story short, I gave birth to my second baby one month before my due date, and this premature baby’s lungs and brain were still filled with water, but she survived! She breathed well with her premature lungs filled with water. I was relieved that she breathed by herself, even though I wasn’t able to hold her in my arms and wasn’t able to meet her as much as I wanted. As soon as she was born, she was transferred to the NICU right away, and we were only allowed to see her face through the incubator glass once or twice, only about 10 to 20 minutes.
But God gave me the confidence that my baby would be okay if I didn’t lose faith. I kept reading the mini prayer book and praying for my daughter’s quick recovery. Thankfully, her recovery was faster than the doctor expected. After she was in NICU for two weeks, she finally got discharged from the hospital. However, the doctor assured us that she should be checked monthly for her developmental problems. There was still water in her brain and lungs.
Do you think we went back to the hospital every month for the baby’s checkup? No, we didn’t. The whole process of CT and examination was too much for the newborn, and above all, I had the confidence that the health and future of my baby was not up to the doctors. I’ve never checked my second child’s lungs and brain until now without doubting God’s provision for my family. And so far, my second child, as many of you already know, is very healthy!
God broke down all the walls of my happy and smooth life because it was built on the wrong foundation. He broke it. Then He sent workers to rebuild my life on His foundation. I still remember God’s faithful workers who helped me with earnest prayers during those hard rebuilding times. So now, I pray for those who suffer. I pray for those who suffer great pain due to the collapse of the walls of their lives. Prayer is the strongest weapon and God loves to hear our prayers. Also God wants us to pray not only for ourselves, but for other people, as our church did for me 9 years ago.
Then I said to them, “ You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “ Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.
Have you ever experienced a life breaking moment in your life? Have you felt that God works in your life through that difficult moment?
1. Seek for God’s plan when you face any hardships in your life. Trust that God breaks our walls to rebuild us in his foundation, and He has good plans for my life as Jeremiah 29:11 says.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen.
2. When you see, hear, meet anyone who suffers from hardships, pray that God uses those hardships as a spiritual training for the person to grow in faith.