(For part 1 of this story, go to: Two stories diverge in a broken world…
It was only one week after the wedding when J.’s wife began having issues with her pregnancy, landing her in the hospital so that she could be monitored. It was 2001, and until this point, J. had lived a fairly enjoyable life as a musician. When his girlfriend became pregnant in 2000, they decided to get married. The sudden hospitalization was not the easiest start to a marriage, but as J. tried to fix up their newly purchased home, he eagerly anticipated the coming birth.
After three months in the hospital, his wife gave birth to healthy twin boys, and J.’s euphoria knew no bounds—new wife, new house, and two new baby boys. Three days after their birth, one of the twins caught an infection, tragically dying two days later. For J., nothing would ever be the same. Grieving and restless, he began to question the meaning of life—what had been the purpose of his tiny son’s brief life and death? He asked his friends, priests, and family, but nobody could satisfy his yearning questions.
One day a friend invited him to some English classes at a local Protestant church, and although he was leery, he desired greater proficiency in English. Much to his surprise, he discovered the church to be small and innocuous; moreover, he was amazed to observe his American teacher’s knowledge of the Bible. A nominal Catholic, he heard verses he previously never knew existed.
So began three and a half years of a conversion process in which he developed a friendship with the pastor, began attending various church activities and even went to church camp in the summer. After his first camp experience, he went to a bookstore to purchase his own Bible. When his surviving son turned two, his personality as they knew it began to disappear—eventually he was diagnosed with autism. This did not deter J. from continuing his journey toward Christ, however, and in 2006, he was baptized. Soon after, his wife gave birth to their third child—a healthy boy. J.’s family story, rife with hardship and tragedy, now moves in a new direction, one of hope and new promise.
As I listened to J.’s story, I reflected upon my own. My parents, converted in their late teenage years, effected a u-turn in my family story—permanently altering a family tree so that it could burst into new growth while stretching towards Him. And because of Him, the Great Interrupter of family trees, here were J. and I, two people of the same age from opposite sides of the world, remembering the past and moving in parallel paths toward the future.