Worshiping in the difficult place – an interview with Jon Curtis
In a neonatal ICU room in Manila, Philippines is the tiniest of baby girls named Shiloh Jubilee – AND the sounds of worship. Worship – in a room where this precious bundle fights every minute to defy the odds.
Jon and Anna Curtis
We know that stories are important – the Bible full of them cover to cover. In Worship and the Word I examine many of them that teach and encourage us regarding the worship of our amazing God. It’s also good to hear how He is still drawing us and still responding to our worship today. So reading the daily updates from our friend, Jon Curtis and his wife, Anna (missionaries in Manila, Philippines), and being inspired by how often worship is mentioned as part of their routine visits with their little Shiloh, I quickly knew it was a story that needed to be shared. So read on – see the hand of God and be encouraged!
(NOTE: Read to the end to find two ways to engage more with this story and receive a free eBook of Worship and the Word!)
Pam: Jon, give us a brief overview of Shiloh’s medical situation. Jon: Our daughter Shiloh Jubilee was prematurely born on December 27, 2013, at 29 weeks 5 days, weighing 1 lb. 4 oz. at 13” long. She was diagnosed with Edwards Syndrome before birth. Doctors told us that statistically our daughter wouldn’t be able to sustain life and would die within a few days. She was born with bilateral clenched fists, clubfeet and no nose holes within her skull. She was born with underdeveloped lungs and two holes in her heart. She was on a ventilator from birth until February 7th when it was removed. She has been breathing on her own ever since. It has been 51 days as of today (February 15, 2014) and our baby girl has defied the odds of medical science. She has only one hole now in her heart now. She has two nose holes, and her lungs have developed to be able to sustain her breathing. She is so strong and a fighter. She continues forward on her journey to wholeness.
P: I’ve been very moved reading the accounts of you and Anna worshiping with Shiloh. What compelled you to start doing this? J: Honestly, we were compelled to worship because we know that all we need is found in His presence. We are both well versed in the Word, so the Holy Spirit brought to recollection the stories of Joshua and Paul & Silas in their worship experiences. We needed peace and wisdom for our hearts. And we needed healing and wholeness restored for our daughter. So we worshiped. We invited His presence to move and invade our situation.
P: If you would allow us to eaves drop on your worship with Shiloh, what does it look like? J: Our times of worship were special in that we used songs that have personally touched us in our own personal times of worship. Songs from artists we know that really garner the presence of God. We spent time in the Word and spoke and declared it over Shiloh. “O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens. You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength..” – Psalm 8:1-2 (NLT) We spoke words of life over our daughter from the deep wells of our heart. (For a list of some of the songs they use, see my comment under this post on this blog site.)
P: How have you sensed God moving as a result of those times? J: God truly became all the more real to us in our times of worship. His tangible presence was there in the NICU and with us as we worshiped in the car or at home. The days we received a discouraging report, we would just dive deeper into His presence. In the natural, we acknowledge the reports of the doctor, but we stand on the report of the Lord. We would recall the Scriptures that were buried in our heart and pray them out loud. We would just worship, reminding our hearts of who He is. We would sing praises of what He has done and is doing. These times were special to us. Our hearts were completely focused on Him. His voice was so clear.
Also, most times we worshiped we would see a dramatic change in the atmosphere of the room. Shiloh’s vitals would stabilize and she would respond to the words we were singing over her, whether it was opening her eyes and turning towards us or moving her hands and legs. When the doctor said that Shiloh was born without nose holes in her skull, we prayed and worshiped, laying hands on her. We anointed her with oil. The next day the doctor said that she discovered an opening in her left nostril, and the opening in the right nostril followed the next day. God moved on our behalf with a miracle. Our doctor was left speechless.
P: You mentioned that Shiloh’s doctor was left speechless. Have there been medical personnel around during those times of worship? What results have you seen as far as others in the hospital acknowledging that your God was at work? J: Yes, there are always nurses and doctors around when we worship in the NICU. Because of our visits we have been approached by many of the nurses and doctors with questions on faith. We’ve prayed with several and invited a few to church. The medical staff is amazed by our faith and how grounded we are in spite of the circumstances. One nurse mentioned to Anna, “Daddy’s prayers are strong and with power. They are really working.” Our doctor said most parents don’t fight, but choose to let “nature” take its course when it comes to diagnoses deemed terminal. She admired our faith and our desire to provide an opportunity at life for Shiloh. It has softened her heart towards God as each day Shiloh defies the odds. We are thankful for the opportunity and humbled at the same time. God is good!
P: What would you say you’re learning as a result? J: Worship is a vital aspect of each day. It sets the tone and prepares the atmosphere not only in the natural, but also in our own hearts. We never know the storms, situations or circumstances that will come at us, but we can prepare for them. Time in His presence keeps us grounded, focused on who He is. It allows us to be sensitive and led by His Spirit and not led by the circumstances or our emotions.
P: What encouragement would you give to others regarding worship in the midst of difficult times? J: Just worship. However that may look like for you. Get in His presence. Speak the Word. Declare it by faith. Soak in His presence. Surround yourself with people who will worship with you. Do it regardless how tired or uncomfortable you feel. It’ll free you for the greater things of God. Breakthrough comes when we just step in without limits. We dive headfirst into the deep things of God. Once you’ve done it, you’ll never want anything less than your last experience. From glory unto glory!
Update: Today (2.21.14) Shiloh tipped the scales at 2.8 lbs!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read the Curtises’ worship story. I’d encourage you to pray for Shiloh Jubilee as God brings her to mind – she has a long road ahead of her. I believe so strongly in both the power of their story and in the power of our prayers towards Shiloh that I want to invite you to SHARE this story on Facebook so others can hear and engage as well. In fact, if you share this story I will send you a free eBook copy of Worship and the Word, which will take you on journey exploring what the Bible teaches about God’s call to us to be His worshipers. (Note: Please message or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you share this post, so I know to send you an eBook – in case I don’t get a notification.)
Also, Jon and Anna Curtis have NOT asked me to do this, but I would personally like to invite you to pray about contributing to their great financial need for Shiloh’s medical care. They pay weekly for the treatment/tests she receives, and it’s a huge burden on their ministry income with a lack of additional help. So please pray to see if God would have you be part of helping with their financial burden. And just like the share, if you donate to Shiloh’s medical care, you will receive a free eBook of Worship and the Word. You can donate to Shiloh’s medical care through PayPal here: Shiloh’s Medical Care Expenses (Note: Please message or email me at email@example.com if you donate, so I know to send you an eBook.)
God’s glory. That’s what this is all about – remembering who He is and lifting Him up in all situations, because God is fully God wherever you are. And then watching Him respond – with a greater revelation of His who He is, an increased sense of His indescribable presence, and the mighty touch of His transforming power. And the highest goal of all? His greater glory – which is on full display around Jon, Anna, and Shiloh Jubilee Curtis. To God be the glory!
What if we all responded to what life hands us by worshiping our God? How has this story challenged you?
UPDATE: Shiloh Jubilee Curtis left this earth to join her risen Savior on Tuesday morning, April 22nd – the day her parents were excitingly waiting for to finally bring her home. I invite you to read the follow-up story, Shiloh’s Legacy, and pray for Jon and Anna’s broken hearts and continuing needs.
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