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Russ Young: Beating the odds with God

About two years ago, when Brad Schoolcraft, of West Duluth, set out to renew his faith in Christ he was not entirely certain where he was going. He knew that his failing kidneys gave him little chance of living too much longer, and he needed to g...

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About two years ago, when Brad Schoolcraft, of West Duluth, set out to renew his faith in Christ he was not entirely certain where he was going. He knew that his failing kidneys gave him little chance of living too much longer, and he needed to get right with God.

Brad's kidneys, problematic since birth, had deteriorated to the point of needing dialysis three days a week. Unfortunately for Brad, even with dialysis, his body was not doing well. There were days when the dialysis would take so much out of him he could not regain his strength until it was time to go for more dialysis. Other complications meant that even with dialysis his body was not getting rid of its toxins. Worse, his health was failing so rapidly there was little hope he was going to be able to last the three to five years it usually takes to get a new kidney.

Leaving his home one Sunday morning, he set out for a local Methodist church. He was not certain it was where he should go, but through prayer God had told Brad he would know where to go once he got there. While walking along Grand Avenue he was unexpectedly met by an unknown man who was determined to point him across the street to Bethany Baptist Church. Not knowing the full scope of what lay ahead, Brad nevertheless sensed this was where God wanted him to go.

Upon arriving at Bethany, Brad felt welcomed and quickly became a regular part of the congregation, except when he was too sick to make it. Many prayers were offered up on behalf of Brad, and for a donor to be found. While his health did not improve his spirits were lifted, and he began to be at peace with God.

That's when God decided to provide a miracle. It came in the form of one person deciding that praying about something often means they need to be willing to personally act upon such prayers as well. In this case, God was moving Brad's pastor, Jeff Hyatt, to prove his own faith not just in words, as pastors regularly get to do, but in deed.

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Pastor Hyatt first approached Brad about being a donor after a severe setback which sent him to intensive care. He simply asked "why can't I give you a kidney?"

To say the answers to such a question are multiple would be an understatement. I could not find any hard statistics, but the probability of finding someone who could be a match for a kidney transplant is apparently several thousand to one. Add to that a willingness to actually donate a kidney and we can easily understand why waiting lists stretch over years.

But Pastor Hyatt was willing, and he matched. Not only that, he was a near perfect match. In a congregation of around 120 he severely beat the odds.

Brad's response to the wonderful news was understandable. In brief he looked at Pastor Hyatt and said "Are you crazy? Do you know what you are getting yourself into?" Brad was concerned should anything go wrong. He was single, but his pastor had a wife, children, and a congregation.

The decision was left in Brad's hand; the offer was not going to be rescinded. In the end Brad realized that what seemed a very dim hope for him was a small thing for God.

Four weeks ago the surgery was completed at the Mayo Clinic. Despite the complexity of live kidney transplants, both patients were finished in just over two hours, beating even optimistic time estimates. While Brad has recovered in a week less time than expected, Pastor Hyatt has been coming along a little slower. Nevertheless, both have no doubt that God arranged everything.

What at one time looked like just a chance meeting can now be seen more fully as just one more part of God's larger plan.

Russ Young, Christian, free-lance writer and a former pastor, may be reached at russyoung@thelifeline.net .

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