Ryan White Story

We were just finishing supper when the phone rang. The voice was filled with emotion. Could I come please right away and anoint the baby in the pediatric intensive care unit at Portland Adventist Medical Center?

Mindful of the James 5 promise and counsel, I thought first of Elder Mel Rees and asked him to accompany me. Knowing the grandfather of the baby was also an ordained local elder, I was aware we would have three "elders of the church." We would "pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord."

As we stepped out of the elevator near the pediatric ICU, we heard a voice on the intercom calling a Code Blue. We watched through the viewing window as several hospital staff gathered around the incubator of the baby, tending to his urgent physical needs — doing everything medical science knows to bring healing to a struggling new life.

Some minutes later, with the immediate crisis past, we were allowed to gown up, including face masks and gloves, and go stand around the infant — so tiny, so pale, so vulnerable as he struggled to live. We each prayed, first asking God to clear our hearts and lives of any unconfessed sin so that through God's grace we might be open channels through which He could work. We prayed that according to God's will this baby would be healed and live a life of blessing to his family and his church. I reached my gloved hand into the incubator and touched the baby's forehead with the oil as a symbol of our desire to reach out with an extra measure of faith in God's power to do this miracle.

As the last voice finished praying, we lingered briefly, just watching the baby, hesitating to leave after experiencing a special sense of the Lord's presence with us. Soon the nurses stepped up to check again the vital signs and the baby's pediatrician arrived to check on him. The doctor commented that the baby's color seemed to have improved and perhaps he had turned the corner.

On Sabbath, our Woodland (Washington) Church family joined with Terry and Carol White, the parents of the newborn, and the rest of the White family in offering praises to God and thanking Him for answering our prayers on behalf of baby Ryan.

Now some thirty years later, I serve on the board of Portland Adventist Medical Center. Not long ago, while I was walking down the hall of the hospital on my way to the boardroom, a physician in green hospital scrubs approached me. With a friendly smile, he stuck out his hand and said, "You probably don't know me, but I feel like I know you. I'm Dr. Ryan White."

October 01, 2011 / Editorial