The Bagwell Family: A Testimony, a Promise and Destiny

The Testimony

If you really want to know who we are and why we are in Nicaragua then I need to tell you a story. It’s a story about beauty for ashes, and faithfulness that only our God and Father could write. It begins in 1990 with the birth of my first-born son, Abram. Abram was born with a problem in his intestines. He couldn’t absorb the nutrients in the food he was eating. He presented with many symptoms such as projectile vomiting and diarrhea that had such a high acid content that it would blister his skin every time he went to the bathroom. He was also very low weight and in a failure to thrive state because he wasn’t getting any nutritional value from the food (formula) he was eating.

We took him to every hospital imaginable trying to get a diagnosis and help for our son. At one point he was even taken to the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C. But they weren’t able to help us. Finally, we ended up at Egleston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. It was there that the gastrointestinal specialists ran Abram through every imaginable test they could. They also performed a full-cut biopsy of his intestine. The diagnosis was a disease called pseudo-obstruction syndrome. The prognosis was grim. Basically, that Abram wouldn’t survive his teen years and the symptoms he was having would be with him the remainder of his life.

Even in the face of all these facts, all these medical tests and reports, all these symptoms: I knew my God would one day heal Abram. So began our journey. For 5 years Abram was in and out of the hospital. Most of the time Chris would go in with him while I would stay home with Jacob and try to run my small business. I would visit on the weekends and stay in the Ronald McDonald house on Houston St. And this was our life for 5 years. When back home and at my job my mind was never far away from my wife and son.

Over time my son’s condition required more and more aggressive treatment. It started with the NG (nasal gastric) tube. Several times a day we would have to run a tube down through his nose until it ended in his stomach. Then we would pour this predigested formula in, and that is how he was fed. Abram never took to eating food so a more permanent solution was made for his liquid nutrition. He had a tube permanently installed (for lack of a better word) in his stomach. There was a button on his stomach and at meal time we would open it and connect a tube and pump that would feed him. This would come at a cost of several hundred dollars a day, but by this time we were on every imaginable type of government assistance.

Time went by and this is how Abram received nourishment until he reached a point when this didn’t work anymore. His treatment became even more aggressive. They installed a catheter under his skin, up around his collar bone so he could be fed intravenously. His cost of treatment went from a few hundred dollars per day to over one thousand dollars per day. I had to learn how “stick him” and start his IV every night. This went on for a long time.

At this point, Abram is spending more time in the hospital than at home. We are well into the forth year of this lifestyle and I’m running on empty. By that I mean, all these years I’ve had faith that God was going to heal my son, but I'm watching his condition grow worse and his treatment more aggressive. My faith is wavering. I’m not so sure anymore. I’ve been beat down by 5 years of hospitals, medical procedures and tests, interns with their opinions and watching my son endure agonizing pain and being stuck like a pincushion. I get to where I don’t even care if I go to work anymore. I don’t have an ounce of ambition in life or business. As a consequence, my business suffers, our income dives and I could care less. I’m close to a breakdown.

Then it happens: Abram goes septic. This very substance that gives life (the blood), has now become poison to his body. Late one night Abram begins vomiting blood and the rescue squad is called. He’s admitted to Mary Black Hospital in Spartanburg. All that night, Abram is in and out of consciousness. His temperature reaches 107 degrees. There are what look like strange pattens dancing around under his skin. All the specialists are called in. For a while there is a flurry of activity going on, as doctors and nurses run around trying to save his life and figure out what’s going on. Then as quickly as it began, it ends. Everyone is moving slower, they’re not looking at you anymore. No one is saying anything, and they don’t have to. Their faces are like blinking neon signs. They’ve given up. He’s going to die. They call an ambulance and rush him to Egleston Children's Hospital in Atlanta.

At that moment, I collapsed into the arms of my pastor, Jerry Clevenger. The resignation to my son dying and 5 years of sorrow came flooding out of me. All of these years of praying and knowing that God was going to heal my son were gone. Chris rode with Abram in the ambulance and I went home and collapsed.

This is where the story turns.

I spoke with Chris on the phone after they arrived at the hospital. They had Abram in a room and had started an IV antibiotic treatment on him. The news wasn’t any better from when they left. I hung up the phone and crawled in bed. Now I had always made a habit of praying for Abram before I went to bed, but that night I didn’t have it in me. As I said earlier, I had already resigned myself to his dying. I lay there for a while and then I thought better of not praying. Even though I didn’t feel like it would do one ounce of good. I started praying, because I knew that was the right thing to do. The only thing I can tell you about what happened next was that I had a divine encounter with the Spirit of God. I’m not quite sure how long it lasted, but when it was over, I was covered in the sweetest sense of peace that I have ever known. I also knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my son had been completely healed during this encounter. I slept that night like I hadn't slept in 5 years. I really don’t want to go into details about the encounter because I believe it would challenge some people’s faith to believe it. I still can’t explain everything that happened. But that’s OK. God is a big God. He does a lot of things I can’t understand. And that’s all I’ll say about it. The next morning I called Chris and told her what happened. She didn’t know quite what to make of it. If I hadn’t experienced it, I would not have believed it myself.

Now here are the facts: By the time Abram reached his 5th birthday he had spent over 1000 days of his life in a hospital. That was over half his life, and never a day when he didn't experience all these symptoms.

Since the encounter, he’s never been back to a hospital a day in his life. He's never had one symptom of the previous illness or any other. He is now, the healthiest person in our family. The salvation of our God is absolute and everlasting. God is still working miracles! Praise the Living God!

The Promise

Throughout Abram’s ordeal, I can’t tell you how many times I promised the Lord that I would give Him my life if He healed my son. That promise brought our family to Nicaragua where we serve Him today. And guess what the main thrust of our work is. It’s a nutrition center where we take in orphaned and abandoned children that are suffering from acute starvation and chronic malnutrition. Isn’t that just like God? Beauty for ashes.

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."—Isaiah 61:3.

To read more about the promise and how the Lord moved us into our destiny CLICK HERE