Shaped by pain, a Father’s ministry is changed forever
(by Gabe Holloway) – It’s difficult to say in any small amount of space what the Stegall Foundation has meant to my wife Lynne, daughter Sara, and I. The scholarship has met practical needs, yes. Tuition, books, housing, insurance, school fees, and living expenses are not small matters. They are often overwhelming, especially in light of a mounting student loan debt that many families face at the end of their seminary careers. In my experience, where these costs may have proven overwhelming, the Stegall Foundation stepped in and provided significant help to not only meet the costs of seminary but also many of the costs of life.
One such cost of life came just this past year. In March of 2011, my wife and I found out that we were having another baby. Aside from the question of how another child would change our life as a seminary family, we were thrilled. In June, however, we discovered at a routine ultrasound that our baby girl would not live. She was diagnosed with anencephaly, a fatal defect of the neural tube. While our little girl would be able to live and grow in the care of her mother’s womb, she would not live long after birth. Even more, the chances of her passing away in utero were significantly higher.
So began an incredible journey of joy and grief.
The Stegall Foundation remained a significant presence throughout those months. They stayed in touch with us, getting updates as often as possible. More importantly, they extended prayers of hope and healing to us. They poured out their love through phone calls, emails, and gifts of financial support that always seemed to come at the right time.
The foundation was there.
Annie Elizabeth Holloway was born on November 29, 2011. She lived and breathed and stared into our eyes for 45 minutes before quietly returning to the arms of Jesus. The day that she arrived was the most joyful and painful day of our lives. The Holy Spirit ministered to us and to those who came to see Annie that day in tangible and powerful ways. I wish there was more room here to tell about our time with Annie, but I would love to point you toward our family blog: http://gabeholloway.tumblr.com/ and and two Relevant Magazine articles published on Annie’s life: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationship/blog/26469-the-journey-of-grief and http://
One of the significant and memorable ways that the Stegall Foundation ministered to us during this time was by a gift that came just as Lynne and I were preparing to meet the costs of Annie’s funeral arrangements. We hoped to bury her in Alabama, our home, but the costs were significant for such an arrangement. The Stegall Foundation, without knowing, provided for every penny of those costs.
To say that we are “grateful” would be an understatement.
The Stegall Foundation has also given us the opportunity to tell Annie’s story. By her life, Lynne and I have found incredible truths about the love and grace of God. By her death, we have a hunger for heaven’s hope unlike ever before. Our ministry is forever changed because of Annie, and the Stegall Foundation has continued to provide opportunity after opportunity for us to minister to others by her story. We’re thankful for them because above all else they share with us in the hope and proclamation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Risen Lord and King. To him be all glory and honor, majesty and power, forevermore.