Please go HERE for Kev's Chapter 9, then return for my point of view. If you have just found our story and are interested in reading the rest, we are both linked on my sidebar.
Kevin came home from the hospital after many days on I.V. antibiotics of the highest strength possible, after two surgeries on his elbow, after much soul searching on his part. As I mentioned in Part VIII, everyone who came into his room seemed to be sent by God to uplift him and encourage him, as well as to aid in his physical healing. I met with the after-care coordinator, who was wonderful. She did a lot of research on places he could go. I was doing research on the Internet at the same time. It was difficult to find a good program. We'd already tried one that didn't work. We couldn't afford to do another expensive program, especially when the first one didn't work out.
But the first order of business was to get Kevin completely well. The elbow was still oozing some infection. He went back to the surgeon several times, and the only option was to re-open the wound and do more surgery - not a viable option with the cost and lack of great insurance. Kev was really emaciated when he went to the hospital - he weighed around 150 pounds on his 6 foot + frame. He spent days on the couch, recuperating, eating Mom's food, getting stronger and better every day. After a couple of weeks, we packed up his things and headed to the program we'd been in touch with. It was very close to home, and in retrospect, would have not worked well - even if it had been a good program. It was supposed to be a Christian based program. When we got there, I got a really bad feeling. I've learned to rely a lot on my "gut" feelings. I believe it is often discernment from God. We took his things to a dark, dank basement of a house. There was no room for anything that he brought. There was no heat down there. The beds were scrunched together. We insisted that he stay, but I didn't feel good about it. The young man who was to be his "mentor" could not answer our questions about the focus and structure of the program. In fact, he told us he'd gone home the week-end before to visit his mom and had "scored" while he was there. Relapse was part of recovery. That was also the philosophy of the expensive place we had sent him previously.
The next day, Kev was brought back down to our hospital emergency room because of his elbow. He called me from there and asked me to pick him up. It went against what I wanted to do, but could not deny the bad feeling I had about that place. I picked him up, went up to get his things, was given a lecture about "rescuing" from the above mentioned young man. Nobody ever called to find out why he left. I felt good about "rescuing" him from this situation.
So we began again. Shortly after that I called him from work one day and asked him to call my friend (well, he was a former boyfriend who had broken my heart - I talk about this in my 100th Post, #97), whose son had completed Tēēn Challenge (henceforth referred to as TC) and was a changed person. He actually did it right away - R called his son at the Chicago airport and asked him to call Kevin right away. They were immediate kindred spirits - in fact T, the young man, told his dad that Kev's story was his story. He began encouraging Kev to get busy on getting well and to get far away from home.
It was Christmas time, there were some legal things to take care of, nobody was in their offices, and things came to a standstill. But God was not taking a vacation, and He was working things out. Kev continued to heal, continued to gain weight (he gained 25 pounds during that six weeks at home), and continued to realize his need of getting to TC as soon as possible.
If I had time to tell you all of the barriers that fell in this process, it would be several more posts. Suffice it to say that T was able to find him a bed in New Haven, Connecticut. It was a longer program than others, and very intense. As Kev mentioned, we went to Denver to meet with the director there, who had been asked by New Haven to interview Kev and ascertain if he was really ready to do this - they didn't want him coming that far and bolting for home at the first tough moment. In the midst of this process, Kev decided he'd like to go to Florida instead. There were tense moments as he awaited a call from the director down there. It never came. But Sunday evening, before he was to leave on Monday, God came to him and he relinquished his will and made up his mind to follow through with the plan to leave for Connecticut the next morning.
In the meantime, Sema had returned from her Christmas trip to Germany to be with her sister who lives there and her parents, who were able to get to Germany when they were not allowed into America. She had been able to distance herself from the situation and her anger had mellowed. They were able to spend that Sunday night together and mend some things before he left. She moved in with us and stayed the entire time he was gone, working full time and earning a second degree. I hope someday she'll write her side of this story.
We borrowed the church van and made a huge event of taking Kev to the airport with the whole family going along. It was a great moment, and a poignant one, when we stood above the security line and watched him head down the concourse by himself - off to start life anew. (For an idea of what he was facing, you can go to this post for information.)
TC is not for the faint of heart. It is hard work. Kev spent countless hours in study and days in fund raising outside of stores all over the East Coast. He sang in choir on the week-ends - that was such a kick for me, because he hadn't had any interest in singing since the 6th grade when they had a really pretty music teacher the boys called "Barbie." He was not allowed to call us for 30 days, and then could call once a week. It wasn't a smooth road - there were some detours along the way that required some discipline. His elbow was still infected when he went - we prayed diligently that it would heal, because he could not afford to leave that place once he was there. God heard our prayers - in a week-end retreat with guys from all over New England TC, they prayed for healing for him. God answered those prayers - the next morning the infection was totally gone. What a wonderful miracle to bolster Kev's fledgling faith!
I don't remember the exact timing, but it was in this time period that God reached down and grabbed Kevin's heart. He finally saw his need of the Saviour. He repented, accepted Christ's forgiveness and love, and has never been the same. He likes to say that what he experienced was not rehab, not recovery, not even restoration, but DELIVERANCE.
I believe it was in April that he took a huge step. We would have loved to be there, but had to settle for this picture.
This was taken in upper New York, early spring, and the water was very cold! But what a thrill for Kevin to make this public profession of his newfound faith.
We began to get requests for larger clothes. He was gaining so much weight and was so healthy that nothing fit him any more. The guys would "bless" each other with things they could not wear any more, and he did this with his outgrown clothes. I was so excited to see how good he looked.
This was taken in front of the church they attended when they were in town for the week-end. Most week-ends they were traveling, sharing their testimonies and singing for churches all over the Eastern seaboard.
The program in New Haven required the guys to go to a different location for a few months. Kev went to the Boston area for awhile. It was during that time that we were privileged to visit him. Sema had been able to go while he was still in New Haven, and another time when he was in Brockton. We went for the Harvest Festival. We told Kevin later that as long as he had to get into this situation, it was sure nice of him to go to a place we hadn't visited before so we could see something brand new. We had an awesome day going up the coast to the tip of the U.S.A., up Cape Cod and back until we could get together with him that evening for the banquet. We had a great time with him and met so many wonderful young guys whose lives were being transformed. We were amazed to see how many really sharp young guys could get so snarled up in such a destructive lifestyle. But the glory of God was evident in their faces. What a blessing to see before and after pictures at the banquet presentation. Their eyes were so devoid of life before Christ came into their hearts - the transformation was absolutely breathtaking.
As he indicated in his latest post, Kevin left much of his heart in New Haven, Connecticut. This is a city of contrasts - wealthy Yale students on one side of the city, and abject poverty on the other. TC is in the poorer part of town. They need somebody to give them a lot of money for improvements! But it was not the buildings that made New Haven TC what it was. Here is a look at some of the facilities that Kevin worked and lived in.
The facilities in Massachusetts were much nicer, but Kev was very happy to get back to Connecticut for the last few weeks of his time in TC.
On June 14, almost a year ago, our prodigal son returned home. What a glorious day that was for us.
It was just at this time that I "met" Diane at Partners in Prayer for Our Prodigals. Kristen, my daughter, introduced us, because she felt we had so much in common and absolutely had to be in touch. What a wonderful friendship it has become. Even before I started blogging in late June, Diane hosted a "Welcome Home" event for Kevin. You can read those HERE, HERE, and HERE. What fun it was! I became acquainted with many of you because of Diane's excitement.
Kevin's life was spared at least 5 times in two years. He was kept from incarceration through miraculous circumstances. There is a reason God has kept him alive and, as I told him when he came home from the hospital that Saturday, it is his job to find out what that purpose is and get busy doing it.
Kevin is currently a junior in social work, in the very program where I work with the grad level students. He is excited about the possibilities of international social work. Please continue to pray for him and Sema as their future unfolds.