We explore the stories of two local families in crisis, their faith and how they found prayer partners on Facebook.
John Thomas Rogers is in the fight of his young life. The Western Kentucky University students is battling back from a bonfire accident just after Thanksgiving. It left him with second and third degree burns over more than half his body. "I started to pitch the gas on the fire and for some reason the flame came back into the gas can and it exploded," Rogers said.
Rogers was airlifted to Vanderbilt in critical condition. It was there his mother used her smartphone to reach out to Facebook friends for support.
"Okay Facebook world I need you like never before. Please pray for John Thomas. He was in a bad accident tonight," her first post read. "This is all about praying. There's not anything you can bring me that's going to help me or help John Thomas. I just need you to pray," said LaDonna Rogers in an interview from the family's home in Glasgow, Kentucky. And pray they did. Friends, friends of friends and thousands of complete strangers -- lifting up Rogers' son asking for healing. It was powerful medicine. "When I got my phone back I went on Facebook and I had a ridiculous amount of notifications of people writing on my wall, praying for me," said John Thomas Rogers.
Almost every new post generated hundreds of likes and dozens of shares. Within days, the Rogers believe God answered all those prayers. "The phone rings in the waiting room and it's the doctor and he says I don't know how to explain this. He said I'm not doing any skin grafting today. He said this child is regenerating new skin in even the worst places. He said, you know I've never seen this. He said this is nothing short of a miracle," said LaDonna Rogers.
"It was absolutely the hand of God that did this. Even the nurses would tell us, we've been in the burn unit for 5, 6, 7-years, we've never seen anything like this," added J.T.'s father John Rogers.
"In its basic essence, prayer is just communicating with God," said Dr. Bruce Chesser, pastor of Hendersonville First Baptist Church. He says scripture is clear, God wants us to bring our concerns to him. But pastor Chesser says it's important to understand God doesn't just fill orders. "Sometimes the answer to our prayer is yes. Sometimes the answer to a prayer is no. It's still an answer. It's not maybe the answer we were looking for but it's still an answer. And sometimes the answer is just not now"
Patrick Froehling's family began praying for healing last Spring when their youngest son was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. "It's one of the worst things you can ever imagine," said Patrick's father Keith Froehling.
Keith and his wife Erin would spend the next four months in the intensive care unit at Vanderbilt. Each day seemed to bring a new medical challenge for Patrick who became known as the little warrior.
Like the Rogers, the Froehlings turned to Facebook for prayer partners. Within weeks, their page Prayers For Young Patrick F had more than 12-thousand followers. "When we heard from perfect strangers from across the country and world that were praying for us. It just really gave us additional hope and strengthened our faith and reinforced everything we knew, that God was in control," said Keith Froehling.
The Froehlings say many prayers were answered. Patrick lived longer than any of the doctors said he would.
Utlimately, however, Patrick would not survive. He died July 15, 2012. But the Froehlings say their faith is not shaken.
"The prayer that we had, God was preparing us to be able to share and help people with keeping and building their faith while they're going through fires," said Patrick's mother Erin.
Doctor Chesser says God doesn't promise Christians won't suffer, only that his grace will see us through. "We really demonstrate our faith when things don't go the way we envision. We have the crisis and yet through that we trust the Lord."
Like the Froehlings, John Thomas Rogers and his family believe their ordeal is part of God's plan. LaDonna Rogers says, "It changed who I am today. I don't know what its changed me to but its changed me. Because I know that there's something bigger in this and that John Thomas has something big to do."
The Froehlings believe God used their son's illness to bring people closer to him. And they believe God has something for them to do to. They're starting a foundation in their son's memory to help the families of other sick children.
Scott Couch, firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @scott_couch
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