“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (Job 5:9).
My sister Kim is married to a great guy named Ken, and he is several years older than her. When they first were dating, I remember the first time I met him, asking him if he had his cane with him (she was 22 and he was 39) He was taken aback, and I laughed out loud, letting him know it was a joke. When they did marriage counseling, the preacher asked her if she was ready to change his diapers, and then she was taken aback. She says, "Well, what do you mean?" He says, "With him being 17 years older than you, the possibility is very real, that he will become old while you are still young, and it's something you better think long and hard about." We have teased about that as well over the years.
Kim is famous for taking on "projects," and Ken is usually drug right along with her, and he has been so giving and loving to see Kim's call to something (or usually someone) and to take up that call himself to help Kim meet the need of her call. For instance, when they were living in Spokane, Washington, Kim drove by and saw an old lady mowing her yard one time. She became sad, convicted, backed up and stopped and asked the lady if she could help her mow her yard. This lady had no one to help her, and she let Kim begin to help with her lawn care - a total stranger. Well, guess who else gets enlisted to help this lady with all of her household chores and needs? Ken began to work alongside Kim as they ministered to this stranger - that's just who they are, and they have been a couple throughout all these missions.
Our friend Sandy who died last year was one of Kim's "projects." She had met Sandy at a homeless shelter and just became her friend and helper, and before you know it, Sandy was a member of our whole family. All of us are blessed by Kim's callings, but Ken does the lion's share of partnering with his wife in adopting people, projects and ministries.
A little over a year and a half ago, Ken began to be short of breath - like really short of breath. Walking to the mailbox was an unbelievable ordeal. He kept quiet about it until it was just too obvious to keep under wraps. He began to seek medical help and ended up getting diagnosed with a disease called Idopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). The doctors pretty much spent their time preparing him for what they consider a terminal disease with absolutely no hope of getting better or even slowing it down or stopping it. The way I understand the disease process is that your lungs just basically start turning into concrete.
As the days went by, Ken's condition progressed rapidly. He began sleeping a lot, spending his days making Kim this instructional book of how to do things when he was gone. He would take a picture of the four-wheeler, showing where the oil and gas caps were, then go inside and print up a document telling her how to change the oil and what the mixtures were. Then he would have to rest. The next day, he would do one on how to light the pilot light on the hot water tank. As I would hear these stories, my heart would just break - it's one thing to plan for your death, but to be making a book for your wife of what to do when you're gone.....yes, helpful, but still awful. Kim continued to go to work every day with a smile on her face and a peace in her heart. Only one time did she break down even a little bit when talking about it, and then her voice just began to crack, but she followed it up with "I have this incredible peace - a peace that passes all understanding. I don't know what the end of this journey is going to be, but I know God is with me and He is going to take care of me."
I lay awake night after night praying for the miracle, the truly God-honoring, fix-ya-up kind of miracle. Wouldn't God give Ken a miracle, to take those lungs that are slowing drying up and hardening and give them life again? As I would pray, I would have a peace also - kind of a "I'm in control, Love God" kind of peace. Ken began to pursue a lung transplant, knowing that was his only hope. He went to the University of Kentucky and had passed all their tests to possibly get on the lung transplant list, only to be told the wait would be too long and there are not enough donors in our area. At this point we knew it was totally up to God to work a miracle.
Ken's determination to "keep living" was inspiring even if he did have to drag oxygen tanks around while riding the motorcycle, fishing, changing the oil in the vehicles or whatever. He had impressed the Kentucky physician so much that he made a call to Duke University in North Carolina to ask them about his possibility of candidacy with Duke. He was then contacted to come for a visit to see if they would consider him for a transplant at 72 years old. Kim is telling me that before they went, Ken went and got a haircut, picked out dress clothes, just was making all these preparations to really look his best. She says, "Why are you doing all this stuff to try to look so good?" He says to her - broke my heart - "Because I need them to see that I am worthy of LIVING, that I'm not some old man who lays around on the couch, watching TV to end out my days - I am a grandfather who babysits by myself, I am a husband who takes care of my wife, I am a pilot who flies his own plane, I am a contributing member of my community, and they need to see that I am deserving of this chance!" Who could turn that down?
They made several trips to Duke, he was tested literally from head to toe, passed each of their requirements and then was asked to relocate. By then, he had done so much planning and exercising and all these requirements, he was getting more and more strength. Watching him "come alive" with the hope of a future was truly incredible. After they moved to Duke, he had a month of rehab and was probably in better shape physically than the rest of the family after exercising three hours a day. Once the minimum requirement of 23 days of rehab was met, he was placed on the national transplant list.
The VERY NEXT DAY he received a call they had a match (which is a miracle itself how fast it happened). He received his new lung (a gift from a donor's family during their time of tragedy) on December 19th. At his age, he was expecting there might be some complications but NONE, NOT A ONE. He came through the surgery and recovery with great speed. Tom and I snuck down to see he and Kim on Christmas Day, trying to sneak into the hospital room while singing "We wish you a Merry Christmas," but I was crying too hard to be able to sing too well. He was sitting in the chair, feeling good enough to go sit in the waiting room and have a little Christmas snack (he wasn't allowed to eat for about a month).
While we were visiting them, their friend Matt (22 years old and deteriorating daily) got his lungs, on Christmas Day! We had the pleasure of meeting his parents and hearing their stories, seeing what all they had gone through. Matt did not do so well - had complication after complication. Pretty much anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, and he almost died several times. Kim was a rock to his family as well as another friend they made who was 49 years old and got his lungs while they were there. She began taking on "projects" even at Duke, staying up all night with these parents and other patients.
Ken had to do another month of post rehab but is now oxygen free and as his granddaughter said "hands free," back home in WV and ready to LIVE the rest of his life because of the generosity of a donor and the prayers of those who believed in FAITH - being the evidence of things not seen. One of the coolest things that happened is the morning Ken got his lungs in the middle of the night (Kim didn't even tell her children in case it was a dry run – and didn’t want them driving in a panic during the middle of the night). We got up to the news that he was in surgery and the lung was a match! However, that very night, our friend Edith Hayes, was woke up and couldn't get Ken off her mind and began to pray for him. Now, mind you, not one of us was woken up to pray - I had no clue - but Edith could NOT sleep, could NOT go back to sleep, was just pressed and pressed to pray for Ken.
About 10:00 a.m. the next morning, after he was out of surgery already, Edith texts me and says, "Is something going on with Ken? I couldn't sleep all night - woke up at about 2:00 and could not go back to sleep for feeling like I needed to pray for him." Wow, wow, wow! Only God does things so good - He has people everywhere! And what a gift it was for Kim to hear that! When she could be feeling alone, like it was only her praying for Ken's healing through this life giving surgery, your friend is lying in her bed, praying the desires of YOUR heart. God is SO GOOD! Praise His Name!
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.