While waiting in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit to see my friend Laura and her son Wesley, I watched this scene unfold before me. As another family learned their son was gone, it was almost more than I was equipped to handle.
Wesley Pitts, the boy I was there to visit, is an active member of my church. He had also been involved in an accident and had spent the previous days fighting to stay alive.
I met Wesley a few years ago when he, his mother, sister, and several members from our church trained for a 10k charity race. Meeting for breakfast after training each Saturday, I was continually impressed by the polite, gentle boy who obviously adored his mother. He would laugh at our jokes and enjoyed being there with us. It didn’t matter that we were a bunch of boring grown-ups.
Wesley has a contagious, all consuming grin - a rarity among many teenagers toughening up as they embark on their adolescent journeys.
Wesley is not smiling or laughing today, and we boring grown-ups are telling few jokes. Last week, after enjoying takeout with his dad, Wesley decided to ride his bike. Moments later he crashed into the back of a car.
Shortly after being air-lifted to the hospital, doctors reported that they believed Wesley was brain dead. Laura trusted the doctors, but turned to the Ultimate Physician for Wesley’s life and total healing. The family requested more prayer, and the chain in our church began.
I got the call just an hour or so after the accident. On my knees, I brushed away tears and began to petition on behalf of this dear family and their only son. Not two miles away, more than 150 people gathered at the hospital. The security guard was overwhelmed and stopped counting, so the exact number is not known.
Recalling the moving scene, a pastor told me that while the church’s ministers were praying over Wesley at his bedside, members of the church, including many from the youth group, were sprawled out over the floor of the waiting room. The hospital chaplain expressed the unusualness of the outpouring of support for this incredible boy.
A close family friend set up a website through caringbridge.org. To date, there have been close to 14,000 visitors and more than 700 guestbook entries. Logging on, I expected to read many familiar names from church, but what I found was prayer and encouragement from people everywhere, and some remarks from people who don’t even know Wesley. Churches, schools, clubs, friends, and Bible study groups are in prayer. Regardless of age, location, or denomination, the body of Christ is coming together.
The woman who updates the online journal daily remarked, “It is so amazing to watch Christians from Virginia to California to Germany to Florida praying for Wesley… People are thanking me, but I want to give God all the praise.”
Doctors said he was brain dead and the prognoses for survival were dim, but the Lord was at work and people were in prayer. Shortly after reports were relayed, Wesley began to respond to light, and continued to show small signs of improvement. That first night, he even squeezed his father’s hand. As my pastor said in church on Sunday, there have been setbacks and concerns but there has also been miracle after miracle.
Maneuvering my way around his bed to give his mom a hug, I took a deep breath and prayed that I could remain strong as I took in the trauma room scene. Before me I saw a leader among his peers, a missions volunteer and athlete hooked up to machines and tubes. Laura gave me a brief update and shared how she is praying. She is confident that God is at work, and glorified through this situation. After quoting a verse from Psalms that says our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases, she said, “I’m praying that ‘If it pleases you God then please grant Wesley total healing.’”
I internally began to compare this scene with what I had just witnessed in the hallway. I don’t know that other family, and I don’t know if they know Christ, but the shell-shocked hopelessness I saw in their eyes was a sharp contrast to the assurance expressed by Laura and her family from the very beginning. She and the rest of us are clinging to Christ, continuing to pray that God be glorified in our prayers, through our actions, and ultimately through healing Wesley.
We don’t know the outcome, but we know the One who knows the beginning and the end. We know the One who loves and not only knows him, but created and planned a life for Wesley. We have no idea what the days and months and years will be like for this family, but we know that God can be glorified in any situation.
Bill and Laura simply asked for prayer. They received prayer, the support of their church family, community, and miracles along the way. What happened in the hours and days after this horrific accident is a great testimony to the power of prayer, the unity of the body of Christ, and the love of God.
It’s often easy to get frustrated or discouraged with what members the body of Christ are doing or not doing, but how could God not be glorified watching His children come together over one of our own… or more accurately, one of His own?