Jace’s journey teaches the power of prayer

24 Feb

A whole lot of people over at Common Ground Church of Sahuarita do, and a 2-year-old, blue-eyed toddler is their proof.


Jace McDonald has had a rough couple of weeks, but when he comes bounding back into church in the near future, the hugs and cheers are sure to erase a lot of the bad memories.

Jace and his parents, Stephanie and Robert McDonald of Sahuarita, were at the home of friends in Amado on Super Bowl Sunday when a pool gate was accidentally left unlatched. Jace went through it and ended up at the bottom of the pool. Nobody knows exactly how long he was there.

 “When we got him from the water, he was blue,” Robert said. “We just started doing CPR.”

When first-responders arrived and took over, the family laid hands on their boy and the prayers began.

Jace was flown to University Medical Center and early on his parents were told to brace for the worst.

The next day, Feb. 6, a doctor asked everybody to leave Jace’s room except Stephanie and Robert.

“He told us that Jace was non-responsive, that ‘Your son is done, he’s gone. There’s nothing you can do,’” Robert said.

They were told Jace was going to die.

They said, no, he’s not.

The call for prayer went out and thousands of people responded — many of whom were following every step of Jace’s journey on the church’s Facebook page.

Jace was on a roller coaster, for sure. He didn’t respond to commands and fluid was building up in his lungs. It was pneumonia.

A prayer vigil Feb. 7 at Sahuarita Town Lake drew hundreds, and churches from Colorado to Florida sent messages of hope via Facebook. The church was getting stronger, but the doctors wouldn’t budge. They remained convinced that Jace wasn’t going to make it. Most stopped coming into his room, Robert said.

All the doctors, that is, except one.

A third-year resident at the hospital believed just as the family did. He had seen Jace the first night and saw a gag reflex from the boy in the ICU. This meant something to him, and he held out hope. Days passed.   

“They did tests and (the resident) was messing with the ventilator … when the monitors sprang to life,” Robert said. It was an unexpected good sign. The doctor ordered a chest X-ray — Jace’s lungs were clearing up. He was stabilizing.

Not long after, Jace’s eyes fluttered as somebody prayed over him. Then he began moving his arms and legs — agitated at having a ventilator. Another good sign.

The church continued to pray, and each passing hour brought more good signs. Jace opened his eyes. He spoke. He recognized family. He high-fived.

One Facebook posting declared another hurdle had been cleared: “Poop!” A good sign that Jace’s plumbing was in good shape.

Saturday was a big day. The breathing tube was removed, and doctors expected problems.

There were none.

That night, the resident doctor — the one who gave hope when all others had given up — came in as Jace was moved to the pediatric floor.

He asked about Jace, then turned to Stephanie and Robert.

“The real reason I’m here is to tell you your son, when he arrived, was dead. There is no medical evidence or reason for your son to be alive. He’s a miracle, and you need to remind him of this.”

Two days later, Jace took another big step that was caught on a video posted on Facebook by Common Ground’s pastor, Ben Barfield.

“Were told this morn that he would have a hard time with hand to mouth … doesn’t look hard to me,” he wrote under a clip of Jace hammering away at a graham cracker.

All through the journey, members of the church and others chimed in online with encouraging comments, Scripture and praise with each piece of news. They organized a fund for the family to help with medical bills and took care of any needs that came up.

Today, there is no sign of brain damage or impairment to motor functions. Jace is the same kid he was before his accident. Plans to send him to Phoenix for three weeks of intensive in-patient rehab are being reconsidered. Doctors think there’s a good chance he just doesn’t need it.

Nobody knows exactly when, but it looks like Jace McDonald, the youngest of four children, will soon be home with his family. And it’s a family that numbers in the hundreds.

“I attribute this to God and his son, Jesus,” Robert said Tuesday. “I attribute it to the promises that are in the living word of God, the Bible, that if you pray, your prayers will be answered.”

“It’s an honor to see first-hand God’s greatness.”

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