The Charity and Amy Klicka Story:
God Has Answered
It all began in August 1994, when my wife, Tracy, and I learned she was pregnant with our fifth child. The prospect of a new baby initially seemed overwhelming. We already had four children six and under: Bethany, six; Megan, three; Jesse, almost two; and Susanna, only five months old. Yet, we trusted in God, confident we were in His will.
Within the month, I began suffering from various symptoms of numbness in my lower body, particularly my legs. Soon the numbness affected my balance and my strength. It wasn’t long before I had to walk with the assistance of a cane. After a spinal tep, various MRSs, and other electrical tests, the neurologist told me I had multiple sclerosis. The doctor diagnosed me with the type of MS which only progressively gets worse. I was steadily losing control of my body, getting worse with each passing week over a six month period. Knowing that MS is a degenerative disease which causes many to end up in a wheelchair or worse, my first thought was, “How long will I be able to provide for my growing family?”
The trauma and emotion I went through after receiving the diagnosis was, at first, difficult to bear. I announced my diagnosis at our church’s Thanksgiving service. The church body literally surrounded my wife and me and tearfully prayed for us. For the first time, I realized that even though we cannot see Jesus directly, He has chosen to manifest Himself through His people, the body of Christ. God was giving us a huge hug through His people. I will never forget the love of God that was poured on us at that time and how we felt the overwhelming presence of God. My condition did not change, but the reassurance that God was by our side and we were not forsaken calmed my soul.
My church family held a day of prayer and fasting; the elders anointed me and prayed for my healing. Members of my church pitched in with practical help for my family as my strength level rapidly decreased to about one-fourth of my normal strength. Our assurance was simply, “God is in control.” We knew we were not.
During this time, we learned that we were going to have twins! Now we were really wondering what the Lord had in store; by the time they would be born, we would have six children, seven and under! The prospect of one baby seemed to be a lot; the thought of twins—and me with MS—seemed almost impossible. During a sonogram visit a few weeks later, we learned that the smaller baby was at least three weeks behind her twin in size. We were in a high-risk pregnancy situation, called twin-to-twin transfusion, where one identical twin gets vastly more nutrition than the other one. We named them Charity Anne and Amy Grace, and we started praying that God would give Charity a spirit of charity. We asked God to somehow, help her supernaturally give life and nutrition to her sister. Amy means beloved, and no matter what happened, even if we lost Amy, we wanted her to know how much she was loved. Both their middle names mean grace, for that is exactly what they were—grace babies.
Because of the complicated nature of the pregnancy, we were referred to specialists at the University of Virginia (UVA) Hospital in Charlottesville. Although these doctors are specialists in difficult and at-risk pregnancies, as the weeks passed, the news became more grim. Amy’s growth was continuing to fall further and further behind. Doctor Ferguson, our primary OB/GYN, informed us that in situations like this, the smaller baby usually dies. He gave Amy nearly no chance of survival. Our local OB/GYN, similarly, gave her only a 10 percent chance of survival. He tried to prepare us for a very premature birth in which even Charity might not survive. Since they are identical twins, they could not be born separately. If Amy died in the womb and was birthed prematurely, Charity would be born just as early. The sooner this might happen, the less chance would Charity have of survival.
Meanwhile, my condition worsened over the next six months. In addition, I took on new responsibilities at Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) where I worked. I became the Executive Director of the National Center for Home Education, and had to restructure many aspects of the Center, lobby regularly on Capitol Hill, oversee state legal and legislative action, manage seven employees and five interns, and master many new tasks. Keeping up with my new responsibilities required long hours and late nights. Now our lives were unsettled in every area. I knew God alone was my strength—mine was rapidly dwindling as the MS progressed.
During my daily devotions, I came across 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, which became one of Tracy’s and my greatest comforts:
Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
More and more, we began to understand that this life is temporary, and so our hope is in the eternal life which Jesus Christ purchased for us on the cross. The affliction we were experiencing was really only momentary and nothing compared to heaven which awaits all those who are in Christ Jesus—where are no more tears, no more sickness, no more sorrow and no more pain. God, in His sovereignty, was blessing us with these afflictions to conform us more to the image of His Son. We found ourselves walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). This is exactly what God has called all of us to do. We tend to think we are safe because we have so many blessings, yet when we do not walk by faith, we are in danger of later becoming overwhelmed by our circumstances.
We knew there was a purpose in this—to bring glory to God. We knew that God loved us. We could say with Job, “God gives and God takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Sharing God’s Love
In Galatians 4:13, the Apostle Paul wrote, “But you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time.” Suddenly this verse had new meaning to Tracy and me. Paul became ill and had to stop in Galatia. It probably was not on his agenda. However, he preached the gospel to the Galatians, and many came to the saving knowledge of Christ, and a church was born. We were experiencing the same opportunities for ministry. Every time I visited the neurologist or met with another technician, the Lord gave me an opportunity to share the gospel and give testimony of His love and power. I was able to hand out Bibles, gospel tracts, and other materials to encourage and persuade those in the medical community to turn to the Lord.
The same opportunities were arising concerning the twins. To doctor after doctor, nurse after nurse, we were able to testify that people were praying for Charity and Amy. Tracy and I were able to share the gospel with our doctors and give them Bibles and materials to show them the way to eternal life. We learned God’s ways are not our ways. We learned to pray with Jesus Christ, who asked the Father if His cup of suffering could pass from Him, but ended His prayer with, “Not my will but Thy will be done.”
God impressed on us the importance of souls. We were learning to redeem the time He had given us and use every opportunity to share His gospel. Te more we shared the gospel with strangers, the easier it became. Soon, virtually everyone we would speak to heard what God was doing in our lives and what He could do for them if they only believed and completely surrendered their lives to Him.
Our friends from church and other Christian brethren told us that our testing was helping to build their faith. It stirred them to pray more often and change teir priorities even as it caused us to change ours. We realized that our children are here temporarily, and they’re a hug, yet wonderful responsibility. We needed to make sure we trained them up in the Lord, so they would know their Savior and walk in His ways all their days.
Some f our friends began praying for the first time. God was using our suffering to encourage and strengthen the faith of people everywhere. Word of our situation went out to 45,000 families through HSLDA’s Home School Court Report. Letters began pouring in. People were praying for us. Their churches were praying for us. We know God heard their intercessions on our behalf. We were humbled by the kindness and love shown by God’s people toward us.
God gave us another passage to encourage us:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also is our comfort abundant through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
God enabled us to comfort friends and strangers alike: two women going through premature labor, MS patients near and far, a lawyer on a plane whose mother was dying of cancer, a young soldier whose father was in a coma, nurses with marriage problems, friends struggling with illnesses, and on and on God opened doors to share the gospel. In fact, I had the privilege of leading that young soldier to the Lord! Suffering is a blessing! What could be more important than souls being saved for all eternity!
Meanwhile, God brought a godly Christian home school family from Pennsylvania to us, whose daughter, Elizabeth, was led of the Lord to live with us and minister to our family (for eight months!) God, the Father, provides for His children. She was to become another of our many miracles!
After visiting friends during the first week of January, we learned that their children had come down with chicken pox the very next day. Our four children and I had been close to these children all day long. Since neither the children nor I had ever had chicken pox, it was almost certain that we too were infected. We stayed home from church two weeks during the incubation period. Providentially, God in His mercy spared us all this extra trial at such a difficult time.
When Tracy was twenty-eight weeks pregnant, she went into premature labor. When we checked into the hospital, the doctor put her on medication and successfully stopped the labor. But a side effect of the medication was a very rapid heart rate that was quite uncomfortable for Tracy. The doctor sent her home on modified best rest, but after a week of a resting heart rate of 130 beats per minute 24/7, it was clear the side effects weren’t lessening. In addition, the babies seemed to be rapidly growing and causing pressure on Tracy’s back and kidneys. Thank God for Elizabeth, our helper, who took over the running of the household and helped care for the children during this time.
After one week, the doctor ordered Tracy to discontinue the reduced amount of medication because her heart rate was still around 120 beats per minute. Shortly after she got off the medication, she again went into labor, now at 29 weeks of her pregnancy. This time, at our local hospital, the staff put her on a second medication—magnesium sulfate—that caused her to become violently ill and rendered her immobile. Knowing she could not continue on this medication much longer, yet fearful they would not be able to stop the labor, the doctors sent her by ambulance down to UVA hospital, an hour and a half away, to try and stop the labor another way.