Relational evangelism is a term that I originally heard about 15 months ago. It was the theme of the church I had began attending with my friend, Kristi McKown. Little did I know at that time, but God was setting up my life so that I would have the strength I needed to get through the toughest obstacle I have ever (and hopefully never again) will work my way through. In January of 2011, I began attending Springdale First Assembly of God with Kristi. I had visited a few times before for programs and such, but I had decided that I wanted to raise my son in church to reinforce values that I think are very important. Griffin was about 8 weeks old at that time. I attended every Sunday sitting with my friend, learning how "this church" worked. I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church, so this was very different for me. I just knew that it felt right for me to be there and I always felt at peace when I left.
At the end of April, I received news that will forever change me. Dr. Knecht from ACH told me that Griffin's original echo had been vastly different from the echo they had just completed. That in fact instead of a harmless VSD (ventricular septum defect) he actually had a quite large hole in the Ventricular wall and had atrial stenosis (the artial valve did not open and close properly). It was a condition call Double Outlet Right Ventricle. In short, G's heart was pumping un-oxygenated blood through his body. He was growing and developing appropriately, which is rare for this condition. The Dr. told me that surgery would need to take place soon to close the hole and repair the valve. I was devastated. Trey had stayed home to sleep because he had been working the previous 3 nights, and we thought this appointment would be the same as all the others. Luckily my dad was with me......he took Griffin on home, and I returned to work. Not much work was completed when I got back. I am one of those people that you can read all of my emotions on my face. All my friends immediately knew something was wrong. My Assistant Principal, Lynda Hicklin, immediately got Griffin on the prayer list. Kristi also began working on this as well.
That Sunday and all the following Sunday's until Griffin's procedure we brought him to the front for prayer. After doing this I immediately began to feel a calming relief. I can't explain it, but I felt at peace with the whole situation. Our first day at ACH (which I call the scare the crap out of you day) I began to lose some of that calm feeling. That night when I began to pray, I knew that it was going to be OK. I was eerily calm. The doctors were telling us that he would probably be in the hospital for 2 weeks up to a month. We were prepared for the long haul. Griffin had his Open Heart Surgery on June 9, 2011. He did exceptionally well. So well in fact that on June 14 he was discharged from the hospital. We were only there 5 short days. I knew that this was a direct result of all the prayers that Griffin had been receiving. We returned to church the next Sunday with a smiling healthy baby.
So.....how does relational evangelism play into all of this? I was brought to church by my friend. I continued to stay there because of the warm feeling, and the outpouring of kindness and love that we felt from the members of the church. That is what relational evangelism is.....bringing people in and serving as an example and support to them. It was God's plan to place me in this church so I would have the strength I needed to make it through this......and it worked.
Now one year later, my 18 month old cute monkey boy is as healthy as ever. We go next week for his one year post surgery echocardiogram and cardiologist appointment. Wish us luck! :)