Updated: May 26, 2020
In a time that is a little darker than we would like, it is so important to look for joy. We know that God is still at work every day. He is at work all across the world, including Sierra Leone. To spread a little sunshine, we want to introduce you to Gabriel. Gabriel is 14 years old. He came to our center in June of 2018, and by the end of this post, you will see not only what a miracle Gabriel is, but also how faithful God is.
Before we share how far Gabriel has come, it is important to first understand part of his story. Sometime around January of 2018, Gabriel sustained an injury that crushed a vertebra in his neck and nearly severed his spinal cord. The exact history of his injury was unclear when he arrived at our center in June 2018, but we were told he fell, lost control of all of his bodily functions from his neck down, and was completely paralyzed. He joined the Hope Apartment where he could receive the best care possible from our wonderful aunties in that apartment who had the training to meet his specific needs. Dr. Nicole McCauley, The Raining Season’s medical liaison, worked alongside nurse Sylvia Mansary to coordinate a care plan for Gabriel. Dr. McCauley also connected with other travelers to support Gabriel. He received chiropractic care as well as therapy in the early months after coming to our center. Gabriel began to notice small movements in his toes and his arms. Though stiff, he could move. If you have met Gabriel, it is no surprise that he quickly accumulated a loyal following of TRS supporters who were sponsoring and praying for him. He has a team that has been cheering him on through the ups and downs, and after today, we are guessing that there will be even more people rooting for him.
About a year after Gabriel’s injury and several months after he had been living at The Covering, TRS finally received an old x-ray of his neck that was taken after his accident. The films showed evidence of an infection that had caused two of the bones in his neck to all but disintegrate. When he fell, those two vertebrae in his neck collapsed. It had been about a year since the x-ray was initially taken so updated films were necessary to evaluate how his condition had changed. It was imperative that Gabriel receive updated radiographs to include x-rays and a CT of the cervical spine, and with the new information, he would need radiographs of the thoracic and lumbar spine as well, to reevaluate his injury and update his care plan. In February of 2019, Gabriel went for bloodwork, a biopsy, x-rays, and CT Scan. He returned to the radiology facility the next day for an MRI of his thoracic and lumbar spine. The results of his labs determined that the infection was still present and medication was administered. Reconstructive surgery in his neck would eventually be necessary. The body's innate, God-given, intelligence had already begun to stabilize the area. However, he would need help overcoming the infection to be ready for surgery. This was expected to take at least a year. A year where he would be bedridden, paralyzed and in need of constant assistance.
Over the next several months, our staff, as well as teams, were able to witness Gabriel begin regaining movement in his extremities, then one day he sat up by himself. Shortly after, he was able to stand with the help of his caregivers, and his catheter was no longer necessary. He began gaining weight with the help of regular supplements and protein shakes specifically designed to target his nutritional deficiencies.
Through the help of our outstanding staff, Gabriel was able to be privately tutored and cared for from day one. Over the past two years, the healing that Gabriel experienced has been nothing short of a miracle. Slowly, he was able to be moved to a wheelchair for short outings around the center grounds. As he continued to heal and began to take his first steps, he was able to spend more extended periods of time outside of his apartment while using a walker. Eventually, he began attending devotions and even school. In October of 2019, Gabriel was healthy enough for an outing away from the center. He attended a pizza and swimming party with some of the other older boys when Dr. Shari Aultman was in-county. As you can imagine, the opportunity to just be one of the boys and to participate in an outing was a pretty special experience.
There is no medical explanation for how Gabriel went from complete paralysis below the neck to being “one of the boys” with only his Aspen cervical collar to remind us of his plight. This is nothing short of a miracle. He is a literal walking miracle, and we are so honored to walk this journey with him. Matthew 17:20 reads, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Gabriel has faith! Gabriel’s faith, along with the many prayers from others, and outstanding care he has received, has healed him. He is walking! Gabriel recently moved from the Hope apartment to the big boys' apartment. Uncle Sorie reported that he can walk freely without the help of a walker, and he is happy to be in an apartment with his friends. Gabriel began attending school at the center, and he is preparing for the National Exam that will allow him to go to secondary school outside of the center next year. Gabriel's medical needs are ongoing. Please be in prayer for Gabriel, as he is due for another scan. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, his scans have been delayed indefinitely.
Gabriel shared that he enjoys playing card games, reading books, and watching movies. He loves playing the drums, and he is learning to play the guitar and keyboard. When he grows up, he wants to be a medical doctor and a pastor. He has even led evening devotions at the center. We look forward to continuing to share Gabriel’s journey with you. We are certain that his future is bright!
Thank you, Jesus, for being faithful. Thank you for moving mountains and renewing our faith in You. Thank you for the work you have done in Gabriel’s life and for the healing he has experienced.
The Raining Season
Are you interested in being a part of Gabriel's journey? You can help support his medical journey and help him achieve his hopes and dreams of becoming a doctor and a pastor through sponsorship. Click here to learn more.