What Kate Taught Me
Authored by Collin Stoddard on August 15, 2017
Our worship team had peen praying for thirteen-year old Kate since February when she was diagnosed with Leukemia. Kate’s older sister Kenzie leads worship with us and our team of behind the scenes servants have gathered around Kenzie, laying hands on Kenzie on Kate’s behalf asking for a miracle every weekend since she was diagnosed. I didn’t know that this was bonding our team until this past month.
Kate’s condition slowly worsened and on her last day before her breathing tube was removed I gathered with her family and many from our church at the children’s hospital in Minneapolis and sang and prayed around her bed, struggling through the intense emotion of releasing this precious girl to Jesus. I’ll never forget watching Kate’s mom and dad, brother and sister, grandpa and grandma in the room that day saying goodbye; her dad recording on his phone as we sang through the tears, trying to capture every last minute they had with their little girl.
On my drive home I broke down telling my wife about the love, support, and presence of the Holy Spirit I had just experienced seeing so many show up to support and love this family.
We began planning Kate’s service and the entire production team, the quiet team of musicians, camera operators and stage hands overwhelmingly begged me to let them serve at her service. I’ve never experienced this level of support or volunteerism for a service, or holiday, let along a funeral in my life. They begged me to let them run graphics, cameras, broadcast, and I had to turn team members away. When I sat with their family planning their service I had our entire production staff and volunteers on standby, knowing I was in the room planning the service, waiting for me to give the word to create videos, anything to support this family. I have never seen anything like it.
1500 people gathered to celebrate her life. Kenzie sang“Be Still My Soul”, the song she would sing to Kate while she was in chemo. Emily, one of our worship leaders, agreed to back her up in case she couldn’t make it through. As Kenzie sang, strong and confident, her voice began to break and falter and Emily’s voice joined her, also faltering and breaking but together they fought through and finished. Finishing the song, they turned to one another on stage in an embrace, shaking through the tears and the the congregation burst into applause.
The value of my job in ministry isn’t the songs we pick, the systems we create, the organizations we grow. Those things are necessary, but what impacted, influenced, and changed lives this week was not these things. It was praying regularly for Kate, even on the weekends that nobody seemed “into it” which gave our team an opportunity to care. It was canceling my afternoon of meetings to show up at the hospital. It was watching two woman lock arms and through tears sing this in front of 1500 people.
“Be still my soul the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord
When disappointment grief and fear are gone
Sorrow forgot Love’s purest joys restored
Be still my soul when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last”
We all miss Kate, we can’t imagine what her family is going through, but Kenzie is singing with us this weekend. She’ll sing with hands raised, smile on her face worshiping the One who gave life to her sister and the one who took it away. We hear “all things work for the good of those who love Him” but sometimes it’s hard to see the good in the midst of the bad. I’m thankful this time to see some of the good: Kenzie’s faith, and the care and support that has come in our team through this, and I can’t take any credit. What I can take is the reminder to show up and provide opportunities for our teams to care. God does the rest.