There are times when I know God is speaking to me. If you aren’t a believer in Christ, I know the next paragraph, actually probably this entire blog post, will make me sound like a either total nut job or one of those judgmental religious people who hold up a sign outside the Jags game that says “You’re going to Hell” and maybe even yelling at you through a bullhorn. That’s okay, I make a conscious effort to be as non-judgmental and non-religious as I can, but I think being a Christian is supposed to make me look different and that might make others uncomfortable or skeptical. Just try to stick with me. Believers, you know that undeniable voice of the Holy Spirit? I heard it on Sunday. It might be cliche but I heard it through our Pastor during church, that nudging on my heart telling me that God had something in store, something big, something important, something that would honor and glorify Him. The passage was Romans 15:8-33 (listen to the entire sermon here). Paul urging the Jews and Gentiles in Rome to live a life poured out for the Gospel of Christ. A life well-lived is not measured by status or accumulation of things or worldly achievements. The only thing we can take with us to heaven is people, not our stuff or status, so we ought to be living on mission every day to share God's message of salvation. Such perspective. As I’m hearing this I am overcome with gratitude that God has given us an outlet, a platform, to carry out this mission through Will. I’ve always known it and recognized it as a gift but it was just crystal clear as I listened to our Pastor unpack this passage. The Will King Foundation is not an experiment or a side project, it an avenue for us to glorify God by not just helping others receive life-saving medical treatment but most importantly by sharing with them the life saving news of the Gospel that could change their eternal trajectory.
When Taylor and I were in college we wanted to be missionaries. Reach the nations, Africa specifically. We would gather in prayer for unreached people groups and shared our desire to bring the Gospel to people who have never heard it. I remember reading “Five Who Changed the World” by Daniel L. Akin, a book that shares biographies of five missionaries who changed the world through their obedience to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20 which tells believers to go and make disciples of all nations). I was audacious enough to think that God could use me to be one of those world changers. I say audacious because I was immature and self-centered and thought that I had something to offer. That God would use me because I was smart or well-educated or could quote a bunch of scripture. My intentions were right, but my heart was in the wrong place. I was pouring my life into achievements for God, looking like a “good christian” and impressing others with my passion for missions when really I was just like the Pharisees. Like a white washed tomb (Matthew 23:27), I looked good on the outside but I was too loud, too wrapped up in myself to really listen to the Spirit of God inside me.
Just for fun - here we are in college - two kiddos with hearts to impact the nations with the Gospel with no clue how we were going to do that.
Fast forward ten years. I am more heartbroken and weak than I have ever been. Most days I have nothing to give because grief over losing Will and caring for his three siblings takes literally everything out of me. But God is working in and through me and because I am humbled, because I have nothing to offer of myself He can truly receive all the glory and all the praise that He deserves. It has nothing to do with me. Our Pastor told a story during this sermon about a time that he was at dinner with Billy Graham. First off, can we just pause and imagine how incredibly amazing and surreal that must have been? Eating dinner with a true world changer, someone used by God to bring thousands into the Kingdom of God. A multitude of souls are in Heaven because they heard the Gospel from Reverend Graham. Our Pastor asks him this question, “If you could preach one more revival, what would you preach about?” Billy Graham responds that he would preach on Galatians 6:14, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Our church has this awesome nursing room for mothers. It has a comfy couch and a TV with the sermon playing and it is quiet and calm. I was in that room, sitting on the couch holding sleeping Caroline and it all seemed so clear but far too simple. Those world changers, the ones who have brought the Gospel to the masses and the unreached people groups and the nations, they all did just one easy thing - boasted in Christ.
At this point I was on fire, dreaming of all the children and their families that would get treatment through this foundation, hear the Gospel and take it back to their nation. I thought of these little children reading the Bibles we give them one day and trusting Christ with their lives. It’s always been what God has put on my heart - reaching the nations, impacting others with the Gospel - it’s just not the way I thought I would do it. I pictured myself living in the depths of the Congo or in a village in southern Africa singing songs about Jesus with children and teaching their mothers how to read the Bible for the first time. I never imagined that I would get the opportunity to reach the nations through the personal tragedy of losing my most precious child. And if I’m really honest, I would give it all up - all the lives that I believe God will change, all the nations that will hear the Gospel, all the children that will read a Bible for the first time - I would happily, willingly give it all up if I could have Will back. One for many - I would exchange everything if I had the choice because that one life given was my son. It really puts an entire new perspective on the Gospel, doesn’t it? God willingly, sacrificially gave His Son to cover the sins of many. God experienced the deepest pain of watching His Son die on a cross so that I could be forgiven, so that I could have eternal life with God, so that my wrongdoing could be atoned for. I would never choose to give up a child, not for anyone or anything, but God - “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever should believe in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Impact is not measured in quantity or massive amounts. I think that world change starts in our homes because most importantly, I am a minister of the Gospel to my family, my three children. If God cannot entrust me with that how can He entrust me with more - Will’s foundation and getting the opportunity to effect change worldwide? It’s a gift, a blessing and a privilege that I will never take for granted. Getting to be a part of global missions is a dream that God made come true in my life in a completely different and unexpected way than I ever hoped for or imagined. Although I would trade it all in for Will, that’s not an option and instead of wallowing in that (although sometimes I do) I think that what Paul is saying is to boast in Christ instead. Don’t get so wrapped up in the things of this world that you miss the Gospel, you miss what God is doing in and through and around you because of what He already did FOR you. Focusing on grief and pain will only lead to more grief and pain. There is a place for it and in my life that place is quite large at the moment, but it turns our view inward, to ourselves. It is so easy to get wrapped up in being sad or missing Will that I can miss what God has for me, for my family. I will miss my boy for the rest of my time here on Earth and I will always want him back, but Will is safe. He is with Jesus, completely whole and protected.
We started our freshman year of college over ten years ago and God has grown that desire in my heart to share the Gospel with the world into something beautiful through my greatest tragedy. As I look at my lonely copy of “Operation World” on our bookshelf I am thankful that now I don’t get to just pray for unreached people groups, I get to pray for actual people. With names. People who I personally know. I get to pray that children who are a part of The Will King Foundation will be world changers. I hope that I am able to continue following them as they grow up, but maybe I will never know what they ended up doing or becoming. It doesn’t matter because I truly believe that they will create change - some as business men and women, some as parents or teachers or entrepreneurs or political leaders. Maybe some will work in ministry or be preachers or church planters, others become doctors or nurses or public servants who spend their lives helping others. Some of them might have a positive impact their family or community by simply being a kind and compassionate person to those around them. I don’t know what God has in store for each of their lives, but I am extremely honored to know them, children who have gone through so much just to live and now their chance is ahead of them. The gift on an entire lifetime to create meaning and purpose and change. One time my dad said Will is like the spark. One day, years from now, someone will hear about the Will King Foundation and all the children who have been impacted and affected. It won’t be about us, it won’t even be about Will, it will be about the way it changed the life of another. They will wonder, “Who is Will King?” and discover that he is the inspiration. As we continue to move forward we will keep pointing to Christ and be proud of all that He is doing through Will’s life and death to change the world.
The tiniest spark can inspire world change in the hands of God.
Our mission is to glorify God by supporting children undergoing life-saving heart treatment and creating a caring community for their families in honor of our son, Will.
My name is Courtney Hughes and I am Will's mommy. I am happy that you are here to read Will's story and make a difference with us!