- (Photo: Facebook/AndrewsAngels123)
A couple from Phoenix whose son suffers from cerebral palsy and needed out-of-state medical treatment last summer, received help from a church in Mission Viejo, Calif., after its members learned that the family was feeling helpless and in need of financial assistance.
"In an act of desperation really, after reaching out to folks through social media with no solution, I sent an e-mail to 20 churches in the area of Mission Viejo, Calif., where the clinic is and I asked if they knew of any affordable private living situation that would meet our needs," Kellie Burkhart said, the mother of the boy.
The Burkhart's 6-year-old son, Andrew, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy two years ago and after countless treatments with top notch doctors in the Phoenix area, and realizing their son's health was deteriorating, they decided to take on homeopathic treatments instead. Stem cell and hyperbaric oxygen treatments were part of the medical attention he needed which called for isolation from public contact leaving the Burkhart's with no choice but expensive private lodging as their only option.
"Of the 20 churches that I reached out to, only three replied. Two of the three said that they could not help, but would be praying for Andrew, which we very much appreciated," Burkhart said. "Rock Harbor Church's pastor, Brian Hill, replied and said, 'I don't know yet how we are going to help but I know that we will help your family,' and help they did!"
Rock Harbor not only decided to help financially, but upon hearing of the couple's situation, a member of the church decided to temporarily move out of her home in order to house the Burkhart's during their son's medical treatments.
"I sent an email to some of the leaders in our church and explained the situation and asked if anyone knew of a place that might provide a low-cost solution. I also asked, not really expecting it to happen, if anyone wanted to move out of their place for a month and rent out their home," Hill said. "A few days later one of the women on that email list replied and wrote that she was considering moving out for this family! I called her and we talked about it for a while, and she eventually said she wanted to offer her home for the entire time the Burkhart's needed to be here and she wanted to do it for free!"
Hill then called Kellie with the good news that helped put an end to her desperation.
"When I explained what the woman in our church wanted to do, all Kelly could do was cry and repeat, 'Thank you' over and over again. It was one of the best phone calls I've ever had the privilege of making," Hill said.
In addition, other members from the church rounded up funds to provide the couple with gift cards for gas and groceries during their stay in California.
"It was an unbelievable outpouring of help at a time when we really needed it. They were the hands and feet of Jesus to our family in the most necessary way," Burkhart said.
This past summer, the Burkhart's had to travel to California once again for Andrew's bone marrow and stem cell transplant, staying many weeks due to the length of his hyperbaric oxygen treatments, and for the second time again, Rock Harbor Church lent a helping hand.
"Again, our now dear friend moved out of her home for several weeks so that we could move in and again, she would take no money," Burkhart said. "She has stated that she wants all the glory to go where it deserves to be, with God! She [also] stated that she was just being an obedient servant, nothing more."
The couple, who live on a "modest teacher's salary" have had to face emotional and financial difficulties, however, Burkhart explains their journey has deepened their faith.
"After three years of these treatments for our son, even with doing extensive fundraising and being helped by many, we are going through the lowest 'financial valley' of our lives right now," Burkhart said. "However, we are not disheartened as we likely would have been in years past. Through all of this, we know that God will continue to provide for our financial need in is His perfect way and in His perfect timing. We have been shown this time and time again."
As for present plans, Burkhart explained they will continue to make the yearly trip to California for as long as they are able to see Andrew's medical condition positively progress.