We Kneed Each Other: A Missionary Family’s Testimony of God’s Provision
By Abby Torgeson
In early March, a few weeks after learning that last year’s knee surgery had failed, Jason traveled to the United States to meet with a doctor who recommended him as a candidate for an osteochondral allograft, essentially a bone-and-cartilage transplant from a cadaver. Costa Rica has wonderful health care but does not maintain that kind of cadaver bank, so the procedure had to be done in the U.S. The doctor performed a preliminary surgery for four tears in the meniscus and to confirm the dimensions needed for the transplant. The waiting game for the donor knee began.
As time passed, we began to get concerned about when the surgery was going to happen, how long he would be away, and whether he would be able to recover sufficiently before our summer home assignment. The doctor told him he needed the operation by mid-May to have a chance to do our upcoming travel so, as April passed, we got increasingly more concerned. It was strange to pray for a cadaver part, but it was a very real “kneed.”
More and more people started praying for our family. Abby is part of a moms’ prayer group at Josiah’s school, and they prayed fervently. Our friends and family, the Costa Rican pastors, and all the people Jason saw in the U.S. mobilized in prayer. It was a humbling thought to know how many were on their knees, lifting up our kneed.
The last week of April, I was preparing to take a group of ladies on a trip to another part of Costa Rica. Pastor Irma MacLean had been invited to share at another church’s women’s retreat, and she asked me to drive her and her intercessory team there. The night before the trip, I was praying for Jason and, once again, expressing my frustrations to the Lord. I felt the Holy Spirit say very clearly, “Pray for the donor.” I had already felt strange praying for a cadaver part, so I found this prayer to be a particularly difficult and uncomfortable task.
I thought about this person, most likely a man of similar stature to Jason, someone young enough to have healthy knees. I wondered whether he knew he was approaching the end of his life or whether it would come as a surprise. I prayed for him as he lived out what time he had left, that he would live well, enjoy his family, and make sure his heart was right with God. I prayed for his family, as they prepared to grieve. It was humbling to know that we needed this man’s life to end so ours could get back to normal.
“But,” I reminded God, “if you just went the route of divine healing, everyone would be happy. There would be no surgery, no recovery, and no one would have to die.”
On Friday night, after we arrived at our destination, I decided to ask Pastor Irma and her team of intercessors to pray for Jason. They tend to lift up bolder prayers than we do, declaring their strong faith in a God who heals, and they have seen miracles in their midst. I really wanted to have a similar testimony. When I explained the situation, I expected them to pray immediately for a miracle. Instead, one of the ladies looked at me and said, “I am going to pray for this man to get his life right with Jesus Christ before his time comes.” I was shocked. I again explained my preference for divine healing, which she agreed would be nice, but continued to focus on praying for the man, his life, and his soul. On the following Wednesday afternoon, Jason got the call.
On this side of heaven, we will never know what transpired and when. But we know it cannot be a coincidence that the prayer team and I had felt the same prompting of the Holy Spirit, even when we really wanted a different answer. Because it takes a few days to get the part in place, surgery was scheduled for May 16, nearly two weeks later—and pretty much the last day he could have it. Jason decided to fly home to Costa Rica to wait, see the family (especially the kids, who were badly missing Daddy), and finish up a few things that needed to be addressed before his lengthy recovery. As his plane was touching down, we got a call and learned that the insurance company had denied the procedure. After several hours on the phone, Jason learned that they were missing a document from his MRI. By this point, it was Friday afternoon, and the doctor’s office was informed that they had to resolve the situation with the insurance by Monday afternoon, or they had to release the part to the next patient.
That kicked off a long, anxious weekend, when no progress could be made, even though we found another copy of the missing document and pleaded for things to be expedited. On Saturday morning, my devotional included Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all your needs….”
OK, yes, that’s true. He did it once. He can do it again.
I left an hour or so later to attend a training for the Costa Rican pastors about biblical finances. All the pastors asked about Jason and how he was doing, and I relayed to them the latest twist in the saga. The presenter did an incredible job framing the topic of finances and focusing primarily on surrendering our lives to God and trusting him to provide. Before the presentation, she divided up about fifty Scripture verses that she would cite that morning, handing out slips of paper with verses for us to take turns reading. What verse did I get? Philippians 4:19.
“My God shall supply all your needs.” OK, God, I get it.
Thanks to the intervention of a very patient and persistent orthopedic surgeon, a man with a heart for the Lord and for medical missions, the insurance company approved the procedure on Monday morning and gave the green light for surgery. Jason flew back to the U.S. a few days later and went under the knife. As it turns out, the donor knee was an even better match than expected. Matching two of the four access points on the donor knee is considered medically acceptable, and matching three is excellent. In Jason’s case, we got all four! It was truly the perfect provision at just the right time.
The recovery process has not been without its challenges, but we are grateful for your prayers, as well as those of our family, the Costa Rican pastors, our ministry colleagues, and so many others that have walked alongside us, on their knees, during our time of kneed.
Learn more about the ministry of Jason and Abby Torgeson, regional connectors to Latin America for Global Strategy, at chogglobal.org.