Living With Billy ... but truly sustained by the Hand of God
Journey for a new heart
My youngest child, Janelle, needed a heart transplant at the tender age of 6. Not only that, but we would only be able to get treatment overseas.
That is because before a transplant, the patient needs to go on a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) - which is an electromechanical heart that assists the failing heart in its function, while the patient waits for an available organ. Unfortunately, paediatric VAD and heart transplant programs are not available in Singapore.
And so on November 21, 2016, with a referral in hand, my wife Judy and I flew to Taiwan with Janelle. Throughout the preparation period, we tried our best to explain the process to Janelle. She handled the news with courage beyond her years. We prayed earnestly for God to lead us all the way and grant Janelle the ultimate healing. Looking back, I can only say that God indeed, has been faithful all the way in providing every need, beyond what we imagined and asked for.
God met our basic need
Once in Taiwan, we knew that hotels were untenable for long-term stays. We finally found a service apartment in Tamsui, a district in New Taipei City. As it turned out, the owner was a Christian lady. She learned about our situation and compassionately offered us a smaller apartment with lower rent, one-third of the original rental. During Chinese New year or special festive periods, she would frequently bless us with food, and red packets for Janelle. For a country that has less than 5% Christians, God sent His angel to take great care of us. This was one of the many signs of grace we experienced.
God arranged the best medical team
Janelle had her VAD surgery on 26 November. It was a major surgery, and we hit some bumps along the way but by God’s grace, she started to recover and adapt to life with “Billy”. She named the VAD, which was the size of a photocopy-machine, Billy. We were really thankful that she was in the hands of one of the best surgeons and a strong medical support team. They were extremely dedicated and skilled in their work.
God's providence abounds
We were foreigners and without insurance coverage. Janelle’s condition was complicated, requiring her to stay in the ICU ward the whole time. The medical costs, as expected, began to skyrocket. The budget we had set aside was rapidly depleted. We resorted to using a crowdfunding platform called GIVE.asia to raise funds to meet her medical expenses.
Philippians 4:6 says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
The truth is, we were very anxious. But God’s faithfulness is beyond description.
Upon Janelle’s discharge from the hospital, all her medical bills were covered. Not only that, Judy and I are now looking at how we can help families in a similar predicament, with the excess balance. Indeed, we experienced the miracle of five loaves and two fishes. Praise God for His blessing.
God sent praying angels
God settled our housing and financial needs. But God is concerned about details too. Up to that point, it had been just Judy, myself, and a few family members who took leave to come and take care of Janelle. But being overseas, as much as we were grateful for loved ones flying in, the physical support understandably was limited.
We arrived as strangers, but God graciously connected us to Julia and Serene, two fellow Singaporeans in TIC, a local church. They rallied families to support us with home-cooked meals (a relief for us from daily hospital food) and spent time with Janelle. Judy even joined their Bible study group, which truly helped her both spiritually and emotionally. We appreciate each and every one of these angels, in Taiwan or from Singapore, who prayed, ministered to us in person and through comforting messages. We drew great strength and comfort knowing that we were in everyone’s thoughts and prayers. Indeed, God is always present and caring.
Looking back, I can only say that God indeed, has been faithful all the way in providing every need, beyond what we imagined and asked for.
God sustains Janelle
During almost one and a half years’ stay in the hospital, Janelle had to grapple with frequent infections which needed IV medication, or the occasional wound infections which required minor surgery. Once her machine needed a pump change and she had to undergo a procedure under general anaesthetic. Another time, the machine broke down and she passed out.
We thank God that He kept Janelle well and protected her no matter the circumstances. She remained strong, trusting in God. Every meal, she would pray, unlike her parents. Every night, she would pray for a good night’s sleep without nightmares. Those became our routines.
God’s perfect Timing
The wait was difficult, as we went from weeks to months to years. Friends would almost always comfort us, “Be patient, it is all in God’s perfect timing.” In reply, we would say, “Amen” but in our minds, we asked, “When?”
On 11 May 2018, Judy and I were at Mike’s place, another fellow Singaporean based in Taiwan, for our cell meeting. We were looking at John chapter 9, where Jesus healed a blind man from birth. In that Scripture context, Jesus explained, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” At the end of the session, the cell members prayed over us. It was a very intense prayer and I could feel the cries of their hearts. We were so blessed, experiencing God’s love manifested through the body of Christ, the church.
The next day, on 12 May, when we broke the news of a donor match to Janelle, she started crying. We asked, “Are you afraid?” And Janelle said, “No…. these are tears of joy”. On the following day, 13 May, Janelle’s new heart started beating inside her.
The surgery was not without complications. She had a harder than usual recovery. We were desperately trying to wake her up, and then Mike walked in. Within minutes, outside the ward, together with everyone, our doctor declared, “No risk of brain injury,” and everyone shouted “Amen”. We prayed and gave thanks. In the following weeks, she met other medical challenges related to her liver and kidney. But week after week the church prayed, and each week she got better and better.
We thank God that Janelle is now such an active and joyful girl. She loves dancing, drawing, watching Youtube. As a family, we are now able to drive to various parts of Taiwan again, after two years.
Hallelujah, all Glory to our Lord God most high. Our heartfelt gratitude to those who have prayed with us and for us. Yes, there will always be storms in our life but we have Jesus in the boat with us. In His perfect timing, He will see us through, till the end.
In great joy, Edwin and Judy Lim never cease to testify of their daughter’s recovery miracle, and are especially grateful for members of Taipei International Church (TIC).