Kristen Marsh kept returning to the prayer.
In her moments of deepest concern about Andy – her husband who was fighting for his life in the hospital – she pulled out the words Rev. Joann H. Lee had written and read them in silence.
O God Our Great Physician,
Be with Andy as his body recovers and heals. Restore to him a full and timely recovery. Be with his medical team as they move him towards that healing. Grant them wisdom and guidance as they use their scientific knowledge and skill.
And be with Kristen, Josh, and Katie, Barbara and Pete. Strengthen them as they support Andy through this. Give them courage when they are afraid. May they feel your loving presence when they feel alone. Sustain them with your grace.
Andy, 44, had first arrived at a Kaiser hospital two months earlier. He had severe acute pancreatitis, a sudden inflammation of the pancreas that became life-threatening as bacteria spread through his body. Only about 10% to 15% of people survive.
Kristen was at the dentist with their children – Josh, 7, and Katie, 4 – when Andy first fell ill. He was put in an ambulance at his office and hurried to Kaiser. When she got a call from his colleagues, she stepped outside the dentist’s office to cry.
It was the first of many tears she shed during a seven-month ordeal clouded by doubts and an unshakable worry: Would Andy make it?
Kristen, who joined Calvary shortly after moving to San Francisco in 2005, needed support to manage her concerns. The words Rev. Lee provided, the hospital visits by Rev. Victor H. Floyd, and the encouragement of the congregation helped her through the seven-month trial.
Deacons delivered meals to her house. Rev. Floyd prayed with her at the hospital. And perhaps most importantly, Rev. Lee and others at the church helped organize a blood drive one Sunday in Andy’s name.
The blood drive sprouted out of one of Andy’s darkest days at the hospital. As doctors sought to drain an infection from his body, a stent they were using hit a blood vessel. It triggered major bleeding and doctors needed several blood transfusions to keep Andy alive.
As Kristen waited outside the intensive care unit, she sent an email to Rev. Lee and three friends at Calvary asking for their prayers.
“Is there anything else we can do?” one person asked.
“Give blood,” Kristen replied.
The blood transfusions Andy received at the hospital saved his life. A few weeks later, more than 30 people filed into a blood mobile outside Calvary and gave blood in Andy’s name, hoping it would help save the life of someone else.
Andy returned home last October and went back to work in January. He’s put on weight and is living life much as he did before he suddenly became ill.
Kristen, who gives to Calvary annually, has developed a deeper appreciation for the church. She knows that if her family ever finds itself in a time of crisis again that Calvary will be there for them.
“There’s something about church friends,” she says. “You can bear your fears and share your feelings more freely because there’s an understanding: You’re meant to support each other. You’re part of a church family.”