Comfort for Children in Hospitals
Comfort for Children in Hospitals

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Calvary Chapel Pittsburgh: Comfort for Children in Hospitals

Story by Carmel Flippen

Many in the fellowship at Calvary Chapel Pittsburgh, PA, spend their Sunday evenings bringing a meal, fellowship, and joy to families whose children are hospitalized.

In 2004, 10-year-old Noah Ziegler was life-flighted from California to UPMC Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh to await triple transplant surgery. Alone in a strange city, the Zieglers—who belonged to Calvary Chapel Golden Springs in California—reached out to CC Pittsburgh for community. Many church members felt an immediate kinship with the brave boy and his family. “As we walked through the whole transplant process with them,” related Pastor Kevin Mallon, “we recognized a need here not just for seriously ill children, but also their families.” Through the Zieglers—who eventually moved to Pittsburgh permanently—the church began building relationships in the hospital.

Pastor Kevin and his Wife

Pastor Kevin Mallon and his wife Krista of Calvary Chapel Pittsburgh pose for a picture.

After the Ronald McDonald House built a 14-story apartment building connected to the hospital in 2009, Calvary Chapel Pittsburgh asked how they could help. While Ronald McDonald House’s strictly sectarian policy limits their ministry methods, the church has found two avenues nearly everyone embraces: food and prayer. Once a month, the church serves a home-cooked meal to families gathered in the building’s common area. This small gesture can have huge impact on families who have traveled from around the world for treatment at one of the nation’s premier children’s research hospitals. While he has sometimes downplayed the importance of the meal itself, Kevin admitted, “One mom corrected me, saying, ‘While we’re here, we have two sets of bills for everything we do. Not having to buy groceries for one meal is huge for us.’ The meal is the ministry’s front end, but it opens the door to much more.”

During the meal, a church volunteer moves through the room with a clipboard, asking for prayer requests. “Everyone needs to know that we’re coming as a church, and that we’re a praying church,” Kevin expressed. “We ask, ‘If you’d like us to pray for your family, could you share enough information for us to pray with knowledge?’ That opens a door.”

This August’s picnic-themed dinner was almost over when a weary woman entered the room with her young granddaughter. “I felt the Lord was saying, Go up to her,” remembered Kevin’s wife Krista. “As I did, she all but fell into my arms. I said, ‘You need prayer.’ She declared, ‘Yes, I do!’ I warned her, ‘I pray in Jesus’ name,’ and she agreed, ‘All day long!’” Tessie Coley had spent six years in different hospitals, trying to find out why her granddaughter Miracle was going blind. UPMC finally discovered the source—a rare condition causing inflammation throughout her body. A surgery the following month could possibly reverse the blindness. Krista continued, “I told her, ‘We have a powerful women’s group of prayer warriors. We called ourselves the ‘Sisters of Suffering’ because our group was forged by the difficulties we faced. When you learn about prayer through suffering, and God meets you there, it doesn’t fall apart.’ Tessie asked, ‘Can I come to your church? I need to be around Christians.’ We sent a taxi to pick her up on Sunday.”

Tessie shared her story with the congregation, and ten people gathered around her and Miracle to lay hands on them and pray. “I could feel God’s hand on us from then on,” Tessie declared, “and God has taken care of my money problems. At my time of need, the church gave me physical and spiritual food.”

CC Pittsburgh Hospital Team group shot

Members of Calvary Chapel Pittsburgh relax after delivering meals to families whose children are hospitalized.

People of many different faiths attend the dinner, yet in a decade of ministry, only one has refused a prayer in Jesus’ name. The ministry opportunities that have opened through this simple kindness are as varied as the people they serve. Kevin has sat with a grieving mother and comforted her until she was able to release her dead infant into his arms. When a teenager in one of the apartments stopped breathing, church members laid hands on him after calling 9-1-1. By the time paramedics arrived, he was breathing and color had returned to his face. Situations like these have earned the respect of hospital workers, opening opportunities to share Christ with them as well. “Most of the time, we’re ministering on a one-time basis,” said Kevin. “We often don’t get to hear what happens. It’s not a pipeline to church membership, but it’s a great opportunity to share Jesus’ love with people in crisis.”

“See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it.” Revelation 3:8b

Noah Ziegler went home to heaven on December 6, 2018. His church family is grieving, but his legacy lives on in each person they minister to, and through the book The Patchwork Kid, written by his father Roger Zeigler.

 

All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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