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Real-life stories: Wracked by illness or disability

When Their Son Was Born With A Life Threatening Illness, They Faced Their Greatest Challenge

Following Jesus Christ can include dramatic experiences and moments of quiet faithfulness.

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 Andy Humphries’ story does not feature illegal drugs, drink, violence or crime. His story shows how God cared for him and his family as He does for others facing the illness of a child.

Andy was born in Clacton-on-Sea in 1967. He had a happy though non-religious childhood.

'None of us actually went to church,' Andy recalls, so the events of the summer of 1979 when he was 12, were surprising when he became a Christian on a school camp.

'I didn’t go to church afterwards, but the camp experience stuck with me. I knew right from wrong but what I didn’t know was the relationship with God that I was missing out on.

He was more interested in listening to and playing heavy rock music. He later had some success with his musical career, including recording an album at Abbey Road. But he says 'I still felt incomplete inside.' It was around this time that he met Kathy.

Before long they became very close. Disillusioned with the music business they decided to settle down and married in 1990, moving to the suburbs. Andy commuted into the capital by coach.

'One particularly bad day on the M1 we were stuck for three hours and the bus driver’s choice of music was awful!,' "I don’t think I can take much more of this!", the guy next to me said.'

'We started to talk about music in general; what he was doing at the weekend. He suggested that I go along to a games evening at his church. That was really how it started as both Kathy and I went to that church the following day.'

For Kathy church held different memories. 'I was brought up Catholic and went to church right through my childhood, she says, 'more through being made to go, than wanting to go! I was one of six children so Sunday morning was my parents’ time off!'

Before long Andy and Kathy made a commitment to God. When their son was born with a life threatening illness, they faced their greatest challenge.

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'Prayer was the mainstay throughout it all,' says Kathy. 'Our son Daryl was diagnosed with severe heart problems when he was seven hours old. We were told when he was five days old that he probably wasn’t going to live. Our minister’s wife prayed with a group of people right through the night. The next day Daryl was taken to Great Ormond Street Hospital (in London) and had his first major surgery at ten days old. Daryl had heart failure at five months because of an infection from the first surgery. He was in intensive care for two months. During that time they thought that he would be brain damaged and not be able to see. He was on a feeding tube for two years.'

With Daryl under constant medical care, and with more operations ahead, Andy and Kathy drew strength from their faith. Andy remembers the months in hospital and the response of other parents.

'It’s all very well to say “touch wood” if you want your car to start but what if it’s the only spiritual hope you’ve got to get through such a crisis? We saw many parents crying their eyes out; parents divorcing because of the stress. It’s difficult for any couple. We didn’t question where God was because our faith was all we had. The other parents were asking us to pray for their children.'

'I’d become a Christian when I was 24,' says Kathy, 'just before we got married. Daryl was born the year after. We were very young Christians. The church was fantastic.'

Once Daryl started eating normally, Andy and Kathy decided to try for another child even though there was a 3% chance of similar abnormalities.

'We knew when I was 18 weeks pregnant with Jenny that there were problems,' recalls Kathy. 'They scanned me again six weeks later and her heart had deteriorated so they offered us termination. They told us that she would die at birth. That point was my lowest. We believed that God would and could do miracles. We had a praying church behind us but even so I questioned my faith. Throughout we continued to go to church, even if I didn’t want to be there. We prayed over the image of the scan. People had visions of a little girl with long blonde hair. They said “this baby will be fine.'

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It took years of medical treatment but today both Daryl and Jenny are in their teens and fit and well - as is their younger sister Amy (with long blonde hair).Andy took up his music again, only this time he would sing for Jesus. All the proceeds from his latest album ‘That’ll be Jesus’ are being donated to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.

Andy’s day job also links to the family’s past. 'I’m a web manager for a group of hospitals within the NHS. It’s great having gone through that experience, to be able to work with and help other people. So really even in my work life I feel like I’m working for God.'

Andy and his family are now all living in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire where he helps to lead worship at Leighton Christian Fellowship.

Andy Humphries, 2009

Check out Andy’s music at www.myspace.com/andyhumphries and www.youtube.com/user/humphriesa

Story and photos by courtesy of Challenge Newsline

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