This summer, I visited my family in New Jersey to surprise my mom for her 80th birthday. While there, I shared testimony after testimony of healings and miracles I’ve personally seen around the world. My 11-year-old niece Sophie asked me a number of times if I could pray for Kanen, one of her classmates battling cancer, so Jesus could heal him. She wasn’t going to stop asking until I said “yes.” In case I wasn’t noticing, my sister Debbie sent me a heartfelt text sharing how she tossed and turned the entire night and couldn’t get out of her head, “Just ask her.” So Debbie decided to listen to that voice and ask me early that morning, “Will you visit Kanen and pray with him? That little boy has been through so much and if it’s God’s will for you to help Him do a miracle, I’m not going to ignore that voice I telling me to ask you. I’m not even sure his mother will agree or if we can coordinate a time to meet them, but God can figure that part out; I just have to do what He is telling me to do.”
I said “Yes,” and stepped out in faith two days later and met with Kanen and his family. I didn’t go there empty handed, but full of prayers. I wasn’t confident in my words, but my relationship with Jesus. He’s given me the “right words” time and time again and I trusted Him to give me what I needed for this family.
As I stepped into their home, I was welcomed by a house overflowing with family – mom, dad, little sister and brother, little sister's friend, baby niece, uncle, two dogs, and Kanen (and later his grandparents joined us). Not only did I need the “right words,” I had an audience of ten including my sister. I was expecting an intimate time of prayer, not a three-ring circus, that included one of the dogs relieving himself on my sister mid-way into our prayer time. Distractions and fear disappear with this simple prayer, “Help me, Jesus!”
Before starting to pray, I wanted Kanen to feel safe and comfortable with me. We talked about baseball, Star Wars, legos…favorites of most young boys. He continued by telling me how much he loves history, excels in math, and plans to go camping with his family to the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore in a couple of weeks. Nervousness subsides and a friendship starts to form. I tell him that I’m sure he has a lot of questions (Why me? Where is God? When can I play baseball again? When will life go back to normal?) Difficult is an understatement to life with cancer. Some would even say, it’s a living hell. Parents, teachers, doctors have no answers, but there’s “ONE” who has the answer to every question and who is always with you, Kanen. I wasn’t sure if he knew Jesus or a believer, but in this moment, I knew that he didn’t need religion, but a relationship with Jesus.
Kanen, if God was right here, what would you ask him? Like a true history buff, he asks God, “Why did you come to this world?” I’m astonished at this point by his maturity and of all the questions he could ask, he chooses this one. I hold his hand and Kanen closes his eyes and poses this question to God. We wait patiently and after a minute or so, Kanen opens his eyes and smiles and answers without hesitation, “He gave His life, so that we can have life.” I’m in awe hearing the Father speak through His “son,” Kanen. “Is there another question you want to ask Him? Something more personal?”
Kanen tells me that when he was in the hospital getting treatment, his dog Kona died and he didn’t get to say good-bye to him. I encourage him to go back to Jesus and find out what He has to say about that. Kanen closed his eyes again and went to his newest friend with, “Jesus, can I say goodbye to Kona?” Not only did Jesus answer this question, He let Kanen see and play with his dog Kona in one of his favorite places---the beach and give him a proper good-bye. By Kona’s name, I’m guessing it was a “heavenly Hawaii,” but I’ll let your imagination paint your own picture.
I explain to Kanen that he can talk to Jesus any time and He’s always with him; I’m just teaching you how to do this when I go home. But before I leave, Kanen, is there one last question you want to ask Jesus today? He responded, “Jesus, when will I get to see Kona again?” After a few moments, Kanen tells us a number, which doesn’t make much sense, but clarifies that it’s in dog years. Like a math whiz, he calculates his final response --- 94. I respond, “What do you think that means?” Kanen says, “I’m going to see Kona when I’m 94.” We all assume years and are so encouraged and excited about Kanen’s “time with Jesus.”
I finish our time praying for Kanen’s full and complete healing from cancer. I read a prayer from Emmett, my spiritual son and WWF fighter in the spirit! We curse the name of cancer and command his body to come into heavenly alignment using the name of Jesus. Kanen’s grandparents walk in the door and he runs to them. I encourage to him to share what happened with Jesus. He starts weeping and joyfully shares everything that Jesus showed him. While not one of us are happy with what cancer is doing to this precious son, we cling to the promises of the Lord and His goodness.
A month ago, my sister texts me that Kanen’s health is deteriorating and the family is calling in hospice. I don’t understand and wrestle my thoughts with God: How can this be? You promised him that he’d live to 94. But I trust you God…Is this an opportunity for you to show your glory through a last-minute miracle? Why are not intervening now? Right now? Please…. I may not understand, but I will trust you for you are faithful and true.
This morning I got a text from my sister that Kanen passed away last night. My heart sank but then both Debbie and I thought at the same time…what if the answer to that question of when Kanen would see his dog Kona wasn’t 94 years, but days. I started counting the days from July 12th to October 14th, but kept losing my place. I found a website that would calculate the time precisely between dates: Ninety-four days exactly. Not 93 or 95, but 94 days. Kanen saw his dog Kona in heaven 94 days from when he asked God that last question. While it doesn’t take away the pain, it gives us a beautiful picture of the relationship that God wants to have with each of us---a friend of Jesus.
I have never called you ‘servants, because a master doesn’t confide in his servants, and servants don’t always understand what the master is doing. But I call you my most intimate friends, for I reveal to you everything that I’ve heard from my Father. John 15:15 TPT
As I process this with God, I’m reminded of Joanne Moody’s encounter with God when she died on the operating table in France. God gave her a choice to stay with Him or return back for her son. In my heart, I sincerely believe that God gave Kanen a choice to stay with him and Kona. I believe he wanted to stay in heaven free of suffering but asked God for some time to go on his trip to the Grand Canyon and say good-bye to family and friends. I won’t know for sure until I see God face-to-face, but this leaves me with a peace that is beyond my understanding, steeped in faith, and rooted in a deep, intimate friendship with God. We truly have a friend in Jesus!