It's been a couple of days since the last update on my father's condition. The initial procedure he had was to fix a hiatal hernia. He aspirated when he began eating because his digestive system wasn't rebooting. This led to septic shock and the spiral downward. When he restabilized he tried eating again and the same thing began happening all over again except we were able to react quicker to minimize aspiration. The last several days he has improved. The latest test show that his stomach is still not functioning properly so they will be inserting a line through his side to feed him to allow him time to strengthen and time for his stomach to begin functioning. The surgeon just told him he should be able to attend Teagan's (our granddaughter & his great granddaughter) 1st birthday party coming up in two weeks. That made him very happy. In a month or so the medical team will consider the next step to get him back to normal. We're pretty happy about this considering we've given him final goodbyes twice in the last two weeks.
A huge thank you to our friends all over the world who have prayed and encouraged us.
Vicki and I are actually on the Outer Banks of North Carolina right now for an annual gathering of her side of our family. The doctors told us it would be fine for us to go since his recovery will be a marathon, not a sprint and we must pace ourselves.
This is a letter we recieved from the National Coordinator for Food for the Hungry in Dominican Republic who responded to the latest crises in Haiti with food from Youthfront's Something to Eat Initiative.
This is one of the many leader moms we trained on how to
combine foods for better nutrition. The Youthfront food packs were used
to do the demo and then given out to share with the poorest families
trained through cascade. We will send a report next week.
I walked into my father's ICU room at 9:00am this morning. As soon as I entered the room he began to choke and aspirate. Over the next 30 minutes I worked with the medical staff to try to insure that the fluid coming from his stomach didn't go into his lungs. For a couple hours he was in serious distress trying to breathe. His breathing turned shallow and rapid with his oxygen levels dropping quickly. Jessica, our daughter, who works in ICU reminded me that we had reversed his "Do Not Resuscitate" status when he improved over the previous two days. This action is quite extreme and in his weakened state would be almost totally futile. We called a family meeting and decided to reinstate DNR. The medical team agreed and thought we should also consider a "Do Not Intubate" decision. We asked for consultation from his lead doctor before we would make that decision.
As all the family gathered for the second time in ten days to say goodbye, we circled his bed, prayed, read Psalms, sang the hymn "I Come to the Garden Alone" and I anointed him with oil and asked that God would answer all the good prayers for him from around the world in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. My mom began to whisper in his ear that we all loved him and we understood that if he was too tired he could go and we would see him again on that wonderful day of resurrection. As she whispered to him, we literally watched his panting for breath at 60+ times per minute slow to 22-24 deeper breaths per minute along with a rise of his oxygen level back over 90. Over the next two hours he stabilized and the doctor helped us to make the decision to return him to the ventilator if he needed to. After a couple more hours he improved enough that we did not have to put him back on the ventilator.
All day friends came by bringing prayers, love, food and hugs. Tonight, Lexi, our six-year-old granddaughter and one of three great granddaughters finally talked me into showing her grandpa on Facetime because she couldn't go into his ICU room. She knew grandpa was close to death but she insisted. I took my phone into his room. He hadn't been responsive for nearly 20 hours. As I was showing Lexi grandpa on my iPhone, he opened his eyes. I said, "Look daddy, Lexi wants to say hi." "Hi Grandpa." Big smile, "Hi Lexi." Lexi, "Love you grandpa." Grandpa, "Love you Lexi. Are you still swimming?" "No, grandpa, I'm finished until the fall but I won two medals." "Love you, Grandpa." "Love you Lexi." "Night, night."
I walked Lexi to the car to go home and sat outside a bit to enjoy a rare rain shower. Vicki called from the room, "Where are you? Your dad wants you to turn on the Royals game, he knows it's time for the game." The earliest connections I remember with my father were around baseball. I told him that the Royals have played great since he has gotten sick. He wondered if he should stay sick a little longer.
In the days and months ahead I have a lot of theological reflection to do about life and death but mostly about prayer. What is going on when we pray? What is the intersection between God's action and our action? My father is known as a Man of Prayer by all who really know him. I believe with all my heart that prayer is transformational. My father is a testimony to this, not necessarily by what has happened to him on this day, July 25, 2013 but because of who he is all the time.
This is a prayer one of my friends and youth worker colleague's shared with me today and is also a part of our Youthfront prayer liturgy.
"Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."
And finally, here is the prayer for the completion of this day. I invite you to pray it with me.
Calm me, O Lord, as You stilled the storm. Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm. Let all the tumult within me cease. Enfold me, Lord, in Your peace.
Father, bless the work that is done, and the work that is to be.
Father, bless the servant that I am, and the servant that I will be.
Thou Lord and God of power, shield and sustain me this night.
I will lie down this night with God, and God will lie down with me; I will lie down this night with Christ, and Christ will lie down with me; I will lie down this night with the Spirit, and the Spirit will lie down with me; God and Christ and the Spirit, be lying down with me.
The peace of God be over me to shelter me,
under me to uphold me,
about me to protect me,
behind me to direct me,
ever with me to save me.
The peace of all peace be mine this night
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
the last 28 hours we have seen an amazing turnaround for my father, Dave
King. He's pictured here with our daughter Jessica. He has been removed from the ventilator and maintained strong
vital signs throughout yesterday. We had to coach him all day to
maintain steady and deep breathing, hard work for him and those of us
working with him. Today he was removed from several more tubes and is
sitting up, talking and joking. An hour ago they tested his ability to
swallow. He passed and just had his first food in nine days. Thank you
for prayers, visits and encouragement.
It has been six days since I returned from New Zealand. Based on the prognosis it was doubtful that I
would make it home to see my father alive. But he's been fighting hard to live.
The last couple days have been a series of two-steps forward, two-steps
back, one half-step forward… we are holding on to hope for a quality
recovery. Finally, the pneumonia
is beginning to subside and we will try again today to wean him off the
ventilator. We’ve tried a couple
times but he fell short of it being sustainable for him to breathe on his own.
My mother is doing well and is surrounded by my three
sisters Tammy, Lea Ann and Tracy; her sons-in-law Jamie and David; 12
grandkids; three great-grandchildren; around 150 friends and extended family
who have come by; plus Vicki and me.
He has had many times of clarity and full
consciousness. Those who’ve come
to visit him, pray with him, talk with him, and even sing to him have inspired
and encouraged him. Several times
when someone has said, “I will pray for you,“ he has mouthed, past the tubes, a
very discernable, “pray now.”
He wants to get out of bed. He wants to know what’s happening to him and is often
frustrated. Several doctors have
told us that he does not have the body of a normal eighty year old but a much
younger body. This has contributed
greatly to his survival.
The day’s fly by in the hospital and it has been hard to
accomplish anything other than managing what’s happening here. We’ve been amazed and blessed with the
messages, emails, texts, stories and calls from people whom my father has pastored, loved,
prayed for and ministered to. They
are beautiful testimonies about a life well lived for Jesus. Thank you all for praying and caring.
I made it home last night at midnight, Vicki picked me up and we got to the hospital at 1:00am. My mom, sisters Tammy and Tracy, my son Micah and nephew Patton were waiting for me in dad's Intensive Care Unit. It was a bit overwhelming to see him connected to so many tubes but the fact that he was still alive was amazing given the reports we had on Tuesday. He acknowledged my presence by squeezing my hand, opening his eyes for a few seconds. Micah asked him if he knew I was there and he shook his head yes. We prayed for him and quoted Psalm 23 over him.
He is still in critical condition but his kidneys are working again, his blood pressure is stable but he has pneumonia which is a big issue affecting his potential recovery. He comes to every now and then and responds to questions by shaking his head and squeezing your hand.
The first memories I have of my dad is playing baseball with me. We've always had a deep connection around baseball. Our friend Ryan Lefebvre, the Kansas City Royals radio and TV broadcaster came by an hour ago. I told dad that Ryan's here. Ryan told him to get better because he wants him to come to some more Royal's games. Dad opened his eyes and gave us all a big affirmative shake of his head.
Two Youthfront staff members, Harrison Tedder-King and Kurt Rietema were just here and dad expressively acknowledged their presence. We have a long way to go. The doctors are amazed at how good and strong his body is for his age declaring that this gives him a fighting chance for recovery.
I'm so thankful for my family, extended family and friends. We so appreciate your prayers, love, concern and kind words of compassion and hope.
When I left home for a two week speaking tour in New Zealand my father, David, was in good health. Last weekend, while speaking at the Salvation Army National Youth Workers Conference, Vicki texted me to inform me that dad was going to have unexpected surgery because his stomach had ascended and was intruding on his lung function. Shortly after the surgery things started to go wrong. Thirty-six hours ago, Vicki called me in the middle of the night in Wellington, NZ telling me to get home as soon as I could because my father had taken a serious turn for the worse. This has been almost unbearably painful.
All our family and close friends are gathered at the hospital in Kansas City and I've just landed in Los Angeles trying to get home as quickly as I can.
My father is a great man. He has worked at Youthfront for approximately 15 years since his retirement from Deutz Allis. He is a pastor to our elderly donors. I've never known a man who prays more than my father. He is a great friend, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, but most of all a man of God.
Please pray for him and all of us that love him dearly.
Emmit Berry, a supporter of Youthfront for sixty-plus years, passed away last week. Emmit was a tremendous man of God and a passionate cheerleader for youth ministry. Recently, my father Dave King, who had become a dear friend of Emmit, and Moree Scofield visited Emmit and wrote this story published this month in the 70th Anniversary Edition of Youthfront News.
Emmit Berry recently turned one hundred-one years old. Around the living room of
his apartment are photos of his nine grandchildren, eighteen
great-grandchildren and one rather striking photo of his four daughters
from years ago. This past month Dave King and I had the pleasure of spending time
with Mr. Berry and his youngest daughter, June Davis.
It seems that though Emmit and his late wife, Christine, raised four
daughters they never let life and business of their family distract them
from pursuing lives committed to Christ. When I asked June how her
family got involved with what was at the time, Youth For Christ (YFC),
“It started out with my oldest sister Emily. Emily attended YFC Club
in the early 50’s. She went to the Raytown High School YFC club. She
went to all of the rallies, and when YFC had the club meetings on the
bus, she went to those meetings, even with the pianos on the bus.
My sister was very involved and knew a lot of kids from Central Bible
Church. She was well acquainted with YFC and she was the one who
introduced our family to YFC. So although the three of us younger
sisters were all 9 years
younger than Emily we started attending YFC
events in junior high. We lived in Raytown and we would attend events
in Shirley French’s home. We always went on Saturday night to rally.
Mom would take us up to Fox’s Drug Store in Raytown and we would wait
for the bus there to get a ride to rally. We’d go down 50 Hwy to Van
Brunt, pick up the kids from East High School and then down to the rally at
Grand Avenue Temple. We sang songs from Singspiration and the pianist,
Albert Lane, played so well. He could play better than anyone you’d
ever known! Daryl Freely was the song leader, we sang hymns and choruses
– it was like going to church with all your youth friends. Us four
girls were all singers and eventually we came to be known as ‘The Berry
Sisters’ and we sang at the YFC Rallies and events.”
June and her father Emmit sat in his apartment and continued to
reminisce. Emmit, a long-time friend of Youthfront came to love the
organization as much as his daughters did. He spent many a week working
at Circle-C Ranch (Youthfront West) building cabins and developing what would be a legacy
– many summers spent with Christ for generations to come.
Emmit, his wife and his daughters, have given their time, talents and
financial resources to help make Youthfront what it is today. The memories of this
man, now over a century old, and the legacy he helped create for his
daughters and generations to follow are what make this organization,
this ministry so unique and so blessed. Thank you to the Berry Sisters,
the Berry family for all you have been to Youthfront.
One of the coolest parts about having been around the Youthfront
community for nearly ten years is that I get to see the impact that
growing up in this ministry has on youth. When I was a Cabin Leader at Youthfront LaCygne in 2005, I had a 7th grade girl in my cabin named Connor Spriggs.
I remember sitting with Connor outside the Snack Shack that week,
probably eating ice cream and just talking life, but I never thought our
relationship would continue beyond that. Several years later, I worked
on staff at West for the first time and reunited with Connor, who was
then on Teen Staff. Last summer, I had the privilege of spending a
whole summer with Connor as we both returned to West on Summer Staff,
and we will work together once again this summer.
Connor’s faith first became real for her as a camper, and her
experience on Teen Staff took her faith to the next level as she learned
what it meant to serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus. And as for
why she continues to be a part of this ministry, Connor said, “My desire
is to join with the Youthfront team in creating that same
Christ-centered environment I experienced years ago, so that students
may come to know the vast love of our Father and begin pursuing a
life-changing spiritual journey.”
We don’t always get to see where our campers go after they leave a
week of camp, so it’s been a blessing to get to see Connor grow through the ministry of Youthfront and want to now give back so that others can experience
Christ in the same way. It’s a reminder to me of why we do what we do.