Although we’ve received much media attention, in a probable fear of offending viewers, news outlets have failed to disclose what we believe to be the true purpose that started our journey. I guess it’s a decent story that one guy needs a kidney and another guy gives it, but that’s not exactly what happened. This is a story about TWO guys getting the gift of life.
In 2013, after the death of my father, I began taking a serious look at life and death, life’s purpose, and whether or not I’d done the right things for myself, my kids, my wife, my friends, and the world in general. This led to a full-on mid-life crisis and prayers that went unanswered. By the end of 2014, I secretly considered myself a Deist – a person who believes in God, but doubts His involvement with us as we struggle through life, hoping for the best. I was growing more and more resentful towards people who credited God with various and often stupid decisions. (“God told me blah, blah…”)
By 2015, Greg was struggling. He was beat down and exhausted, having endured three days of dialysis each week for over four years. Still, somehow, Greg maintained his faith. If you look back at Greg’s Facebook page, you will see post after post of well-wishers speaking about Greg’s failing kidneys, and you will see repeated replies from Greg explaining that God will provide at His timing. Had I read that prior to April of 2015, I would have shook my head at the stupidity of thinking God would fix something when He could have just prevented it from the beginning. I guess it’s no different that most unanswered prayers and unwanted events that we struggle to understand. But in April of 2015, Greg called me with a random law enforcement-related question. He placed the cold call when scrolling through Facebook contacts, seeing me, and recalling that I worked in law enforcement in some capacity. Although we knew each other from attending the same gym in the early 2000’s, I hadn’t seen Greg in over six years and was unaware of his kidney failure. I was happy to hear from Greg. He’s one of those guys that you feel happy when you see or hear from. After a brief catching up, he asked his question, a straight-forward one with a simple answer, but I felt compelled to meet with him. I couldn’t explain it, but I felt I needed to see him. Two days later, when he walked in the coffee house, I inquired about the scars on his arms and learned about his kidney dialysis. When asked about the probability of of him finding a kidney, Greg explained that his brother was nearly the solution, but tests found him not to be compatible. In that moment, I knew I was his donor. I know it may sound stupid to you, but during that conversation, I was THAT guy who swears that a message was received from God. I can’t fully explain it, but for the first time in my life, I truly felt God’s hand at work. Over the next 48 hours, my wife and I discussed the issue. We started with a Google search of, “death from kidney donating.” We moved on to discuss the possibility of our children one day needing a kidney. We ultimately decided to table the issue for some time. That was a Wednesday. On Friday, we took our daughter to Auburn to settled into her new dorm. That evening we went to dinner at a local restaurant. During the dinner, I was drawn to the restaurant owner. He was a funny, charismatic guy, hustling around and joking with the customers. I wanted to meet him. Again, yes, I know it is so dang goofy, but I couldn’t help myself. I introduced myself to the man who was very friendly and struck up a conversation. He bought me a drink which I accepted as we sat down to discuss Auburn football (all the while, my family sat inside, puzzled). After a few minutes and one finished drink, he offered another which I declined, saying something about keeping my kidneys in check. His reply: “I should do the same thing. I only have one. I donated my other one to a student eight years ago. It was the best thing I’ve ever done.” I just looked at that man as if he had just walked off a space ship. Monday morning, I called UAB’s Kidney Transplant Unit and discussed the process of becoming a donor. After a few generic questions about family history and health, I was told, due to absence of other potential donors, I would be allowed to test. Later that same week, I gave UAB about 14 vials of blood and images of my chest, lungs, kidneys and heart. I met with the surgeon who explained that while it was statistically improbable that I would be a match, I was the best hope so far. He explained that if I were a 20% match, anti-rejection drugs could be given to aid Greg’s body with the organ acceptance. The following week, I learned that I was a near 80% match!!
Following the surgery, I have had multiple opportunities to sit down with people who’ve crossed my path while struggling with matters of faith. Although my belief has been restored, I am certainly not a great Christian – maybe not even a good one. I still struggle with all the things you struggle with. I am still a cynic. I have a hard time with most organized religion. I curse every singe time I have a long work report due. But I have the ability to say, “…here’s what happened to me.” And that, is most likely why it took Greg 4 years to find a kidney. This wasn’t just about Greg’s kidney. I believe God was working on a two-for-one kinda deal.
The story of how Philippians 2:4 became a driving force for Team Mountain is coming soon to the BLOG. Please visit again soon to see how we hope to add yet another annoying sticker to your car’s rear window.