How a Son’s Health Challenged a Father’s Faith

Shattered Prayer book

Kenneth Ching lived a comfortable life—with a great job, a big house, and an easy faith. He went to church and believed in God’s goodness. But when his son is born with a serious and rare genetic condition, his life is thrown into terrifying chaos.

In his honest and raw memoir, Shattered Prayers: The Testing of a Father’s Faith, Ching brings to life his experience of letting go while learning to truly trust the Savior he claims to know. Ching doesn’t shy away from asking the hard questions: Why does God answer some prayers but not others? How does prayer work? Is God even listening?

Shattered Prayers is ultimately a story about recognizing God’s presence and faithfulness in the midst of brokenness. And how one man thought God ruined his life by giving his son a terrible disease, but eventually realized God was actually fighting to save his faith and his son’s life.

Enjoy this excerpt from Shattered Prayers:

Suddenly the gynecologist is holding our baby. His tiny body is covered with bloody fluids. His face is mashed up. His eyes are closed. To me, he looks a little blue, but the doc­tor says his color looks good.

“Ten toes and fingers,” she says.

She offers me scissors for cutting the umbilical cord, but I decline. I don’t think I can take seeing all the blood and guts, and I definitely don’t want to cut anything that’s com­ing out of Erin’s abdomen, so I ask the gynecologist to do it. The nurse wraps Joshua in a towel, puts a little cap on him, and hands him to Erin. Erin cradles Joshua in her arms, as a smile of joy and relief spreads across her face.

We quickly notice, however, that Joshua’s breathing is la­bored. The nurse gives us a blue bulb to suction goop out of his mouth to help him breathe. She doesn’t seem wor­ried. She says we can spend some time with Joshua, but then she’ll take him to the nursery. She leaves, and the room be­comes quiet.

Erin tries to nurse Joshua, but he doesn’t seem able to suck. Erin doesn’t seem worried. She read that babies some­times need a couple of days to learn how to properly latch.

Joshua falls asleep. Erin is exhausted but happy. I’m hov­ering around the bed, and Erin asks me if I want to hold him. I kind of don’t. I’m not sure how to do it. He’s so small, and I don’t want to break something. But Erin lifts him into my arms, and I hold him close to my chest. He looks like me, with his big, round head—a tiny Charlie Brown.

“Hey there, little guy,” I say. His breathing is ragged, so I insert the blue bulb into his mouth and try to suck out some congestion. Nothing comes, but I’m sure his breathing will even out on its own.

The nurse returns to take Joshua to the nursery. I go with her, and we enter a pink and yellow room full of nurses and babies. The nurse sets Joshua in a little bed under a heating lamp, giving him a tag on his leg and me a bracelet to iden­tify me as his father.

One of the nurses turns Joshua on his side. His rib cage is straining against his skin as he breathes.

“You’re really struggling, little guy,” the nurse says.

“The doctor said he needs to clear some fluid out of his lungs,” I say.

“Hmm,” the nurse responds and crosses her arms.

As I’m leaving, I hear a nurse say she’s going to call the re­spiratory therapist, but no one seems worried.

Back in the hospital room, I fall into a chair next to a nap­ping Erin. I’m so relieved. Everything went fine. The peace­ful feeling of finishing a hard day’s struggle pervades the room. I doze for a few minutes, but I wake when an attendant enters with Erin’s breakfast. She doesn’t have any food for me.

“Only the mother gets breakfast,” she says apologetically.

“That’s fine. I’ll go to the cafeteria.”

On my way to the cafeteria, I drop by the nursery to see Joshua. There’s a large observation window, and families are gathered around to look at their babies. I have to squeeze through the crowd to get to the window. Then I see something strange.

The babies’ beds are lined up in a row along the wall, but one is missing. I look up and down the row several times. I can’t find Joshua. He’s gone. Wires and cords dangle from the wall where his bed had been.

I stare at the empty space. My baby is not where I left him. He’s been taken somewhere, and it must have been in a hur­ry, because no one has had time to tell me what’s going on. Then I remember: He wasn’t breathing right. Something is wrong.

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Create More Engaging Services with Free Online Church Bulletins

engaged congregation
Every week, your church uses an ancient technology to collect contact information and track attendance: paper bulletins.

In addition to supporting the recycling and waste management services in your community, those paper bulletins create a lot of tedious work for your staff (or a very patient volunteer who deserves some appreciation). Someone has to collect all those bulletins and manually enter the information into spreadsheets—because what good is all that information if it isn’t organized?

That’s why Faithlife just made your bulletins digital. Collecting and organizing that information gets a whole lot easier, and your congregation stays more connected.

While you may not be ready to ditch your printer, technology is becoming increasingly valuable to churches. As of a year ago, about two thirds of your congregation has smartphones. The epitome of convenience is filling your pews every weekend. Your church can use that to your advantage.

Digital bulletins turn smartphones into assets, not distractions.

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How to Create Your Own Digital Church Bulletins

Church bulletins now lets you create digital bulletins your church can access online—before, during, or after your service.

Every week, churches print off thousands of bulletins—most of which never actually leave the building. It costs money, wastes paper, and fails to remind most of your congregation about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and the key takeaways from your service.

Digital bulletins leverage smartphones to keep your church more connected.

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15 Ways to Read the Bible with Fresh Eyes

Fresh start
Reading the Bible regularly can be hard. Sometimes it can feel like it takes too much work to understand what Scripture is really saying. And the last thing you want is for your Bible reading to become stale, or to feel forced.

If Bible study matters to you but you’re struggling to keep going, try some of these techniques.

Here are 15 ways to read the Bible with fresh eyes:

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The Church Media Bundle for People Who Don’t Like to Choose

best church media brands

If you’ve been shopping around for church media, you probably noticed there are more than a few choices out there. You could wade through dozens of church media brands before you find what your church needs (or what you can afford).

Maybe you’ve been getting your church media a-la-carte, so you get exactly what you want and don’t pay for more than that. But buying sermon illustration videos, motion backgrounds for worship, church countdown videos, and still images for 10–15 bucks a pop adds up fast—and your church has a budget.

Proclaim Church Presentation Software is here to help.

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5 Things Every Church Presentation Needs to Do

welcome slideWhen someone new sets foot in your church, what happens?

A greeter hands them a bulletin as they walk through the door, an usher helps them find their seats.

Now what?

Maybe your regulars introduce themselves and strike up a conversation. Maybe they don’t.

This is where your screen comes in. It’s an anchor for regulars and a lifeline for newcomers. With the right slides, newcomers can wander into your church and feel like they’re exactly where they’re supposed to be.

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Watch Highlights from Awana’s Vantage Conference

Ed Stetzer Vantage ConferenceAt the end of April, leaders from across the country gathered at Awana headquarters to get equipped for youth and children’s ministry with Sean McDowell, Ed Stetzer, Dan Lovaglia, and others.

Vantage Conference is all about relational children’s ministry, and each speaker shares a different aspect of how leaders and ministries can facilitate discipleship.

If you missed the live event, you can still get a ticket to watch it on demand.

Experience the conference with your team or on your own, from home, the office, or wherever. Watch it all at once, or break it up across several meetings. Since it’s on demand, it’s on your schedule.

Catch some highlights from Vantage Conference in the video below:

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7 Things the Bible Says about Orphans

Psalm 68:5

The Bible has a lot to say about orphans. The Hebrew word for orphan is yatom—usually translated fatherless. It describes a child who lacks the protection and provision of a family.

The best modern equivalent for this type of person is a foster child—a child whose parents are either unable or unwilling to care for them.

Let’s see what the Bible has to say about them.

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27 Christian Quotes about Happiness

christian happiness quotes aw tozer

At the heart of Randy Alcorn’s latest book, Happiness, is the simple belief that Christians, having a direct relationship with the source of all happiness, should be happy.

This isn’t a call for delusional ignorance of the terrible things that happen all around us, or the sinful embrace of all things that may produce some fleeting glimpse of happiness. Alcorn spent three years compiling hundreds of pages of research to demonstrate that God does desire for us to be happy, and that Christians have historically embraced that Christianity leads to happiness.

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