Several years ago at a June conference at Bethel Church in Redding, a family brought their 18-month-old daughter to me for prayer. Emma had, since birth, never been able to drink normal fluids due to some problems with her pharyngeal reflex. This was a complication of her Down’s syndrome. The night I first met her, I sat in a seat next to her and her mother and grandma. I asked them what Emma’s most distressing symptom was and they told me about the swallowing and that she had thickened fluids given to her using a spoon.
I had learned to ask about the worst symptom a few months before when I started the healing teams at Bethel. My very first ’client’ was a 19-year-old young man with Down’s syndrome. When I first met him I asked what he wanted payer for and he told me that he wanted to speak better. Over three days of prayer sessions, Jared received prayer and also prayed outloud himself in response to directions which God gave me each time we met. Jared’s family reported to me 10 days after their visit that his speech had dramatically improved.
Now I was praying for Emma. Emma was a lively young girl who jumped onto my lap as if she had known me her entire life. She repeatedly tried to get her arms around me in a game which resembled using my belly as a mini trampoline. After the conference and our time of prayer together, Emma went with her family to a local fast food restaurant and drank a milkshake through a straw. This was an amazing breakthrough. I have from time to time followed up with the family and Emma’s ability to eat and drink has increased, as have her general social skills.
Upon hearing Emma’s testimony the Sunday following that June conference, pastor Bill told me that he believed that I had an assignment to pray for Down’s syndrome. The series of unusual circumstances was, he noted, what he calls the language of the spirit. Two more events in the following months would confirm to me that God was talking and giving me an assignment.
I have continued to pray for healing with those born with Down’s syndrome and those diagnosed with Down’s syndrome while still in their mother’s womb. I have seen improvements of major symptoms, but I confess that I have not yet seen all that I believe for. But I am not stopping. I have heard stories of other ministers seeing physical characteristics, including a total transformation of appearance, and have eagerly had those ministers pray for me to receive an impartation.
This blog is written to encourage families with their challenging assignment of raising a child with Down’s syndrome. From diagnosis in the womb to the shock of an unexpected diagnosis at birth, these families experience so many emotions. Once born, these joyful people become so loved and a part of each family and then present more emotions in the family’s pursuit of healing, which for some represents a rejection of the identity of their child.
I am looking forward to a growing exchange on this blog of how families cope with these emotions. I hope that there will be great encouragement for all who post comments here.
I will continue to pray whenever I have the opportunity: pray and encourage and gather testimonies, of which there are many.
What I do know is that Down’s is not God’s plan, but like all crises in our lives, He will use if for His glory. I know He loves these precious ones and that somehow, especially through their often extravagant love and joy, He reveals a characteristic of Himself in unusually rich measure.
One day, I was at the front of the church praying for a little boy with Down’s syndrome. As I did, I was prompted to look up Matthew 21:21, knowing that Down’s is caused by an extra 21st chromosome. Isn’t it just like God to hide a special verse for these! Matthew 21:21 reads; “If you have faith and say unto this mountain be removed and cast into the sea it shall be done.” Downs is, in my opinion and that of many others, a modern day mountain that looms with fear over so many and visits unsuspecting families who are thrust into an entirely different way of living– expectations for their children to someday marry or leave home being suddenly shattered.
I will run with this assignment for the rest of my days. It began with the first patient I cared for in my pre-nursing preparation and has included many unusual circumstances since, including being in a meeting with my good friend Leif Hetland where we prayed for at least 15 children with Downs syndrome. This blog is for every family caring for children with Down’s syndrome and those who love them. I hope that it will be a source of great encouragement and, through testimonies, will lift our faith.