Phillip and his Love Bears
On November 10, 1991, in the early hours of the morning, Phillip, was born at Duke Medical Center. I distinctly remember the neonatal personnel sweeping our newborn baby out of the delivery room with great urgency. Angela and I knew there would be complications; the doctors told us months before that the testing demonstrated serious issues, but we had no idea the extent of the difficulties all of us were about to face.
Months went by in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as Angela and I watched our "little Phillip" lay under an oxygen tent with tubes and wires all about him. I remember how painful it was for Angela yearning to hold her baby; But that was not possible, not yet.
After some months, Phillip had an incident where he stopped breathing. This time, it was our turn to be swept out of the room as they began emergency intervention to keep Phillip alive. I remember the hospital Chaplain telling us that the only thing we could do is pray; and pray we did.
We returned to Phillip's room that day only to find our Son worse off that before. I can distinctly remember the agony and pain we felt in our heart. I wished, with all my heart, that I could take his place under that tent, but I could not.
The Doctors told us that Phillip had a rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi Syndrome and that his muscles were under-developed. Phillip's breathing tube had collapsed due to this condition. The doctor, using a pencil and paper, drew out a series of rings explaining that a breathing tube has these rings of cartilage to maintain stability so air can pass through it. These rings, according to the doctor, were not developed in Phillip's breathing tube. The only solution was an emergency tracheotomy. The doctor told us that we had until morning to give authorization for the procedure.
That night, Angela and I cried out to God in the little Chapel on the first floor of Duke Medical Center. We asked God to help Phillip get through all of this. We prayed and prayed until we felt we could not pray anymore. We did not know what was going to become of our Son, but God did.
The next morning, the doctor came into the room with a somewhat bewildered look on his face. When they tested Phillip that morning, the rings of cartilage were developed. We asked God to help Phillip get through the surgery and He cancelled it; how glorious.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV).
Phillip is now twenty-four years old. Many hospital stays and numerous surgeries later, Phillip is doing well. Not that there are not problems and issues, but Phillip is our gift from God. We have learned, through our trials and tribulations, that it is not God's primary purpose to make us unconditionally happy; it is His primary purpose to make us Christ-like.
Since that time, God has given Angela and me two more beautiful children (Victoria and Nicholas).
After Phillip's last surgery, he let Angela, and I know that he wanted to begin doing something to help hurting children feel better. As a result of Phillip's request, we started Phillip's Love Bears. Phillip and the rest of our family began hand stuffing Teddy Bears to send to hospitals and orphanages. Since the inception of this ministry, thousands of Teddy Bears have been prepared and shipped (free of charge) to Churches, Missionaries, Hospitals and Orphanages all over the world.
But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness". Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 1 Corinthians 12-10 (ESV).
In a period of fewer than three years, God has done remarkable things with this ministry. Phillip's Love Bears has sent Teddy Bears all over the world, including many regions throughout the United States, South Korea, Israel, India, The Middle East, Belize, Kenya, Costa Rica and Panama. We will soon be sending bears to Poland, Tanzania, Egypt and many more servants of Christ Jesus.
We wanted to share with you the story of Phillip and his Love Bears to assure that all understand that God is worthy of our praise and that it is He who is to receive all of the glory for Phillip's Love Bears. The Teddy Bears are simply a reflection of Christ's love for his children.