This year, working at home one April morning, Ryan Savageau received a text message from his friend, Steve, with unsettling news. His wife, Jennifer, had received a grim diagnosis. She was dying of liver failure—and Steve had been instructed to call hospice.
Friends since meeting in the Marines 31 years ago, Steve knew of Ryan’s faith and was desperate for anything to help Jennifer—even prayers, since Steve and Jennifer were not believers.
Turning To Prayer
Ryan ran upstairs “We need to pray,” he told his wife, Sheila, who was also working from home. But praying together was something they’d only recently begun doing. Prayer was a biblical practice they’d been uncomfortable with until going through Rooted, a small group biblical study at Seacoast Church just that past January. Now they knew it was exactly what they needed to do.
It was hard to imagine Jennifer, also a Marine veteran, so ill. They began to pray, knowing Jennifer needed a miracle. “I knew in my spirit, it [death] was not today,” Sheila said.
Prompted by their faith, Ryan and Sheila urged Steve not to call hospice. “God wasn’t done with her yet,” Sheila said.
Sheila, while worrying about her friend, was reminded of a liver transplant doctor in Rochester, MN that she’d met years earlier at a healthcare consortium. Although they hadn’t connected in two years, Sheila reached out to the doctor, Chuck, and he offered to provide his expertise and assistance on the transplant process. After Chuck reviewed Jennifer’s records, he helped arrange for Jennifer’s transport from Charlotte, NC to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, an answer to prayer to put Jennifer in the right place with the best expertise.
“God activated us to pray, and we’ve seen so many unexplainable miracles.” — Sheila
Even as Jennifer lay in the hospital bed, frail, and barely able to speak, God was weaving a plan together.
Not only did they have Chuck’s knowledge on their side, but Ryan and Sheila already had plans to travel from Charleston, SC to Rochester, of all places, that week to attend their son’s soccer tournament.
During their visit to Mayo Clinic, Sheila told Jennifer “You know, “Jesus loves you.”
Jennifer quietly responded, “I’m so unworthy.”
Staying at Jennifer’s bedside, Sheila talked with her about Jesus and prayed for her healing.
Within a week of Jennifer being admitted to Mayo Clinic, she received a liver transplant. Typically, the wait to receive a new liver takes 30 days to five years, depending on the urgency of need. Jennifer was approved for a transplant on a Monday. By Thursday, she had a healthy liver.
“When you’re truly rooted in your relationship with Christ, there is nothing that breaks it.” — Sheila
Now four months later, Jennifer is making a full recovery.
“Our word for the year has been ‘faithfulness,’” Sheila said. “To see them [Steve and Jennifer] now, two people whose hearts have been transformed. After truly seeing the power of prayer, they see that this is real.”
Rooted In Faith
Jennifer’s health crisis and the heart transformation of their friends reinforced for Ryan and Sheila the power and importance of prayer—especially together. Before joining Rooted, they only prayed individually and if they had time. But one of the Rooted exercises forced them to push past their discomfort. It required meeting at the Mount Pleasant Campus to pray for two hours: thirty minutes as a group, and then alone, talking to God.
“I tried to use one of our son’s soccer games as an excuse, but that got canceled,” Ryan joked. “I can’t sit for two hours normally, let alone, sit and pray for two hours.” But, as he sat in silence, the conversation with God began to flow, and Ryan filled multiple pages in his journal. After two hours, he and Sheila both desired more time.
“When you’re truly rooted in your relationship with Christ, there is nothing that breaks it,” Sheila said. “It’s a conversation with God. It’s that relationship that you grow so much deeper in. God activated us to pray, and we’ve seen so many unexplainable miracles.”