by Philip and Melede Meinzen
Photo of Micah Meinzen courtesy Philip and Melede Meinzen
Amid all its blessings, spring brings an annual migration where young men and women walk across the graduation stages of our nation’s colleges and universities and receive their diplomas. They then walk into their futures with great expectations.
One of this year’s students has already navigated a path of overwhelming obstacles. And his walk across the stage to claim his degree was nothing short of a miracle, in what has become a lifetime of miracles.
Micah was just two when we learned he would face a struggle for his life. We were called into the doctor’s office on a Friday evening around 5:30.
“Your son has a golf-ball-sized cancerous tumor on his brainstem,” the doctor said. “I have him scheduled for surgery on Tuesday.”
Micah endured 14 hours of high-tech brain surgery that day at Loyola University Hospital in Maywood, Ill. We sought God’s mercy in the days leading up to the procedure that would determine life or death. We asked God to take the tumor away, according to His will.
The first in a series of miracles came that day. God answered that prayer. The surgery nurse for neurosurgeon Dr. Douglas Anderson came to the waiting room and told us, “Micah’s tumor, which normally would be a hard mass, has begun to soften, allowing the doctors to suction much of it.” This blessing allowed the removal of more than ninety percent of the tumor, while limiting neurological damage to the brainstem typically associated with this kind of procedure.
Aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed. The treatments, intended to save his life, created neurological and physical deficits that would challenge Micah’s physical and cognitive development in the years to come.
But God continued to provide miraculous intervention that helped Micah beat the odds.
Micah has a God-given spirit of determination and compassion, along with a strong sense of God’s presence. We watched with amazement as God gave His favor to him during the cancer treatments. As a boy not yet three years old, he lay motionless on a hard radiation table for more than three hours without sedation. Angels were definitely attending him. Even the radiologist was amazed.
During his elementary and high-school years, God gave Micah the determination to spend four hours doing homework at night in order to keep pace and overcome a nonverbal learning disability caused, in part, by the surgery and radiation.
Micah’s growth was nourished by Christ’s presence, our love, and prayerful families who accepted him without exception. His three siblings—Rachel, Christa, and Matthew—provided an emotional support system.
Certainly, the blessings of caring Lutheran congregations and schools, plus the nurturing environment of Concordia University Wisconsin, also brought him to his graduation moment.
During his college years, Micah discovered his gift for working with children, spending summers at LCMS camps and traveling to India four times to minister to orphan children. His independent-study major combined early-childhood development and missions. Micah hopes to link his love for children with work in missions and ministry.
For all who walk the graduation stages of our nation’s institutions of higher learning this spring, Micah’s story can illuminate the miracles in every person’s life. As they take their place in society and live out their vocations, all have been rescued from the clutches of death for a future and a hope. Christians pray that the Holy Spirit might use this walk to invite this generation of college graduates to know and serve the Lord Jesus, who came that we might have life—and have it to the full!
About the Authors: Philip and Melede Meinzen are members of St. John’s Lutheran Church, West Bend, Wis.