At nearly midnight, on January 31, 2015, what should have been a moment to celebrate after an emergency c-section, morphed into fear and uncertainty when first-time parents, Caleb and Kimberli Chunglo, discovered their son, Noah’s, heart defect. Noah’s struggles and trials caused a flood of prayers as a community came together to help a young family.
After his birth, Baby Noah was diagnosed with Truncus Arteriosus on February 3 and airlifted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Grandparents, Pastor Guy Deckard (Grace Baptist Church) and Shelli Deckard, described the moment:
“It’s been a long day full of medical terms you’ve never heard before and emotions you never wanted to feel. But through it all we know that God is faithful. His love, and the love shown to us all through friends and family has been enormous. Times like these stretch and grow us and give us all a clear focus on what matters most.”
Truncus Arteriosus, “is a rare heart defect that’s present at birth (congenital). If your baby has truncus arteriosus, it means that one large blood vessel leads out of the heart. Normally, there are two separate vessels coming out of the heart. (Mayo Clinic)”
As doctors began discussing surgery possibilities, the communities of Chino Valley, Arizona and beyond increased the intensity of their prayers and support. Krissy Basham, Noah’s aunt, created a Facebook Group for updates. Email, phone, and face-to-face prayer chains and groups kept Noah and the Chunglos at the top of their prayer list.
Social Media was abuzz with stories of Noah’s progress. From tee-shirts, hashtags, and bracelets, people kept tabs on Noah’s recovery. Organizations across the county were praying with their staff for Noah.
The doctors brought Noah into surgery to add a new valve to his heart on February 23. Prayers intensified across the nation and around the world as Kimberli reported on February 24 the first hiccup in the healing process following surgery:
“Their big concern right now is that his heart beat isn’t consistently steady. He keeps going into bouts of “VTACH” which essentially means that his lower half of his heart is beating faster than the upper half. This then causes his heart beat to increase and his blood pressure to decrease. Although this is normal considering what he’s been through, they are watching closely. If it continues and doesn’t correct itself like it has been they will need to start CPR. They are starting him on a medication today to encourage his heart to beat normally.”
She continued on a more thoughtful thread:
“Once his breathing tube is out and he is stable, mommy and daddy can hold him again.”
Noah’s grandparents made countless trips from Prescott to Phoenix, Arizona to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. People left encouraging notes and photos on the Facebook group. Noah came home to the Chunglo’s house on March 7. He continued to struggle, and eventually gained healthy weight, went off oxygen, and is finally doing tummy-time. His legacy is the impact his little life made on so many people.
Here are their stories:
Amy Durham is on the worship team of Grace Baptist. She says, “Being able to finally cuddle Noah help put stuff into perspective for me. I often times get caught up worrying and stressing over little things but why? I was holding a real life miracle in my arms. God showed up in a big way. He is mighty and Sovereign… He cares so I just need to let Him lead! I pray every time I look at Noah [that] I remember how big God is and how small I am. The creator of the universe cares for me. I am His child… I got nothing to worry about!”
Anna Popescu ardently prayed for Noah:
“I don’t recall who started the #prayfornoah movement, but how it traveled so swiftly throughout the world amazed me. It shouldn’t have, though, because the power of God is not limited by borders. He heard and honored the prayers of thousands of people. Probably the sweetest thing to me is how Kimberli and Caleb’s faith increased as they fully put their trust in God to handle every single tiny detail. Yes, you can feel the emotional struggles they had during this time but what shined through most of all is their belief that God was constantly surrounding them with His comfort and love.
I live with several chronic pain illnesses and have a lot of faith in God to carry me through each and everyday, but witnessing Kimberli and Caleb’s faith and trust in such a precarious situation increased my own faith and trust that God’s plan is always right and good. I am so thankful to have been part of the worldwide team of people praying for sweet little Noah.
‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” –Hebrews 11:1‘”
J and Carolyn Mendl said:
“I just wanted to say that My husband, J, and I are close friends with Kim and Caleb. The best part of this whole thing has been watching them cling to each other and cling to God. Their relationships have changed in such a strong way. They fully rely on the Lord for His provision and His perfect timing, even when it’s the hardest thing. They will tell you that they felt like they had no other choice than to trust in the Lord, but so many in their situation could have/would have done the opposite. So I thank the Lord for him using this to prosper them and to become even closer to Him.”
Pat Knight wrote her thoughts how Noah left an imprint in her life:
“As I prayed frequently for Noah, my imagination often revealed angelic chatter in heaven. Astonished by the high volume of intercessory prayer for a newborn, the angels inquired among themselves, “Who is the infant Noah? He must be incredibly precious to all the people on earth.” Indeed, he is to all of us, and to Jesus!
An alternate scene revealed Noah snuggling with Jesus in a loving embrace. Jesus whispered assurance to His bundle of joy, “A miracle was planned for you before you were born. It will teach many truths about my character to the people who pray for you. You are never too young to carry my name throughout the world.”
Prayer is a power tool entrusted to Christians; prayer is a catalyst of two-way communication with our Father in heaven; prayer challenges the believer to stretch his faith; prayer affects miraculous results from Almighty God; prayer is the conduit that connects the finite to the Infinite; prayer encourages us to “carry each other’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2, NIV); prayer is an invaluable investment in Noah’s life; prayer is a phenomenal gift for those who believe.”
Krissy Basham shared how deeply her nephew, Noah, has changed her life:
When I envisioned being Noah’s Aunt I thought I’d be the one teaching him some things about life.Instead, in Noah’s first month of life he taught me some mighty important lessons. Noah’s journey has made me far more trusting of God’s good and perfect will for our lives. Through Noah’s journey I have seen numerous answered prayers (both big and small), so many I could never doubt Gods existence or His love for us. Many things happen in this life that I will never understand, but that does not change the fact that God is love and He is incredibly powerful.When especially hard situations like Noah’s come along we want to know why, this situation was no different for me. Around the time of Noah’s surgery I was shown John 9 where Jesus comes across a blind man and the disciples ask Jesus why the man is blind.Jesus’ response is “Neither this man or his parents have sinned, this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” and then Jesus healed the blind man. I combine that with the truth of Romans 8:28 that says “all things come together for His good” and I find comfort in knowing that God did not do this to Noah or his family as punishment but that He turned Noah’s situation around for His good, so the work of God may be displayed in Noah’s life to change many lives, including mine. My faith has been made stronger.
And finally a word from the Grandparents:
Shelli Deckard said,
“The adventure of Noah has given me a richer grasp of God’s love, the intent and purpose of The Church, and providence–going backward to forward, providence.
God showed His providence to our family in countless ways. The moment Noah was born via c-section, He began to reveal it. The condition of Noah’s heart was detected early on, but had Noah been born traditionally, one of two things may have happened. Either he may not have survived child birth, or (without the c-section) Kim and Caleb may have been sent home before a more full picture of the severity of Noah’s heart was understood. Providence.
God used friendships (some that hadn’t been cultivated in a while, but were strong from the past, and some that are so near and dear that they are like family) to give help and support to Kim and Caleb while they were in the hospital in various physical and material ways (some were not even Christians)–Providence.
God placed Guy and myself in a healthy church five years ago that valued us and therefore also valued our daughter and her husband. Because of that, countless church friends blessed us in prayer and loving support of all kinds. Providence.
Which brings me to my second thought: the intent and purpose of The Church.
The Church is a family. A family of believers in Christ established to, among other things, encourage and admonish one another in brotherly love. Our church family fully and completely embraced this reality in how they loved on and supported us through this adventure. They did everything right. They prayed, they hugged, they sent cards, they gave, and they loved us in the most beautiful way. And what’s more, the extended family of God, through Facebook, loved, prayed and supported us just as much. Folks from around the state, nation and some from other parts of the world, reached out to us and prayed for Noah and the Chunglo’s. I have never been part of something so beautiful and meaningful (as well as Christ-filled in expressions and true support) as what we experienced through Noah’s adventure. It took me to the core of my faith, and became beauty from ashes, if you will. Something wonderful from something so difficult and heart breaking.
Because of all of that, I grasped even more so, God’s love. Not just His love for me, but how He uses “all things to work together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.” God’s love is in the details. The providence. The church.
Pastor Guy Deckard (Noah’s Papa) further emphasized:
I have been a pastor for many years now and I have walked with families through difficult times before. I have cried with some and cheered with others. Being there for families as they experience loss can be one of the most difficult things in ministry. Many times when ministering to others – you find yourself being encouraged by those that you were attempting to encourage. People’s faith has always amazed me.
Over the last several months I have been ministered to by God’s people. Folks from all over this nation have sent encouraging words and have let us know of their unyielding prayer for Noah and his family. I have never seen or experienced anything like it. I have been brought to tears countless times by the love and grace of His people. Our church and brothers and sisters in Christ from churches in the area have been phenomenal. My brother’s and sister’s faith have amazed me.
Witnessing my children – all of them – as they go through this experience together has been heartwarming. You raise your children with the hope that they will never have to experience the hard things in life that you have had to. But when you witness one of your own go through something much harder than you have had to endure – it can be gut wrenching. All of them – in spite of me – have been golden. I have watched them huddle together in prayer and in tears. I have watched one of my daughters who has walked away from God reach out for Him. I have watched my oldest, who once was rebellious, hold her hands over baby Noah to pray for his healing from her God. I have seen the faith of all of my children stretched to the breaking point, but God held them together. My children’s faith have amazed me.
I have witnessed the power of God many times in the lives of His people. I have seen miracles, marriages healed, hearts mended, and lives restored. Over the years I have seen hundreds come to Christ, and each time my heart leaps as it did the first time. But I have never seen so much love, prayer, kindness, and grace from His people. I have been astounded and left breathless by believers. We are all called to encourage one another – to build one another up. And I have seen Him through His people. I have been amazed by His people.
If you wish to know more about this kind of faith, feel free to connect with me. Let me help you find a church home. Let me pray for you or connect you with a local pastor. It’s not good to be alone in the world. If you are struggling, in pain, or grieving, talk to your pastor about joining a small group or a support group. There are all kinds of churches out there, like small groups, house church or a traditional church. Let me help you find a place you can grow.
If you feel led to help the Chunglo family with their ongoing medical expenses as Noah grows, click here. Noah continues to get medical help as he grows, but he is doing well, Praise the Lord!