Sophia Campa-Peter's faith in God is big but—in a mere two weeks—her childlike confidence in His goodness exceeded the size of Texas; It's now as big as the world.
First, the 9-year-old girl from the Lone Star state succeeded in a mission to round up prayer warriors from across the globe to intercede for her on Jan. 26 as the top neurologist in the nation—at Children's Hospital in Boston—operated on her brain, performing a pial synangiosis.
Sophia's mother, Karyn, led the charge in their hometown of Brownfield, Texas, where the 9-year-old's name and image appeared on the front page of the newspaper. Daily, Sophia asked for reports from her mother, who added everybody she met to a growing prayer chain.
From newspaper to television to radio and—eventually to their U.S. Congressman—news of Sophia's brain surgery and prayer request spread, reaching the nation's capital, thanks to Karyn's hard work and Sophia's insistence.
A plea for the whole world—"you know, 10,000 people," Sophia said—to pray for her was ultimately carried by the White House and President Donald Trump during a press briefing days before the risky surgery in Boston.
After the operation, a miraculous recovery within a few days allowed Sophia, Karyn, her father Andy Peters, brother Jonah and sister Katie time to visit some New England sites before returning to Texas, where a friend waited eagerly for a scheduled play date on Saturday—a little more than one week after her brain surgery.
Fully restored to the goofy, silly, sweet, kind, loving (her mother Karyn's words) girl the family adores, Sophia offered prayers of thanksgiving at dinner back in Texas home.
Thanksgiving for her life beyond the operation, for people who prayed for her, for the shout out from President Trump and the White House Press Office, and for the Texas Congressman who prayed and worked to get Sophia to the nation's capital.
For somebody who has talked previously about her funeral with her adoring, godly parents, Sophia's belief in the power of prayer—especially when the "whole" world offers it—is gigantic.
So, when the White House invited Sophia and members of her family to the National Prayer Breakfast with an estimated 5,000 guests in Washington, D.C., she stepped out in faith, boarding a plane alongside Karyn 12 days after having brain surgery in Boston.
Despite reservations about leaving her friend again so soon after a major operation, Sophia didn't want to miss the opportunity to pray with world leaders at the 66th annual event and, hopefully, thank President Trump for his support.
Her faith was rewarded when, spotting the president through a human wall of Secret Service agents, Sophia threw both arms around the commander in chief, thanking him in advance of the official start of the program at 7:30 in the morning, Feb. 8, for his prayers and those of the White House staff.
Calling her a hero, President Trump acknowledged Sophia during two hours of prayer, encouragement and fellowship over breakfast where, seated next to royalty from Serbia, the little girl with long, blond hair was honored like a princess, too.
(In this video clip, watch President Donald J. Trump point to and speak about Sophia Campa-Peters at the 66th National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.)
Homeschooled by Karyn, Sophia posed for pictures with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who expressed support for parents like Andy and Karyn Peters. For medical or a myriad of other reasons, families deserve the right to choose alternatives to public schools, DeVos said.
The secretary said she and her husband are inspired by the faith of Sophia and Karyn.
Before and after the prayer breakfast, Sophia toured the Capitol building with Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, and later met House Speaker Paul Ryan. Both Congressmen stopped for photographers capturing images of Sophia, the prayer warrior who inspired a global movement of prayer.
Back home in Texas, Sophia's faith in God and in prayer is larger than ever—at least as big as the universe He created.
"Only God knows what's next," Sophia said on the heels of her medical and prayer journeys to and from Texas, Boston and D.C.
Karyn, who knows the next step for Sophia is a visit on Thursday with her doctors in Texas, said the family's faith is catching up to the 9-year-old's.
"She gets this so much better than we do," said Karyn, grateful to be home with her family, who didn't travel to D.C.
Instead, Andy and Jonah remained in Texas, watching the National Prayer Breakfast broadcast, as Sophia and Karyn prayed with world leaders.
"Sophia brings us back around to the simplicity of it all, as well as to how profound it is," Karyn said. "But I think she's right ... only God knows what's next."
Each step—even before Sophia's birth in Nov. 6, 2008—has been one of faith, hope and love.
Six months after she was born, Sophia began manifesting serious medical issues noticeable to Andy and Karyn, and to doctors during her first hospitalization.
Their fears gave way to a long, frightful medical journey, leading to innumerable hospital stays, endless rounds of tests, painful medical procedures and multiple, terrifying misdiagnoses of Sophia's condition. The saga continues as Sophia—apart from God's continued miracles and answered prayer—is never out of danger.
Offering little hope, doctors predicted Sophia wouldn't live to the age of 1.
Defying their grim prognosis, Sophia outlived the doctors' predictions but, at 6 years of age, she suffered four debilitating strokes that completely paralyzed her left side; today, though, Sophia miraculously moves in and out of a wheelchair at will.
Sophia's medical saga written by Karyn—sometimes through a flow of tears, agonizing fears and ferocious love—is recorded on a website that's drawn visitors interested in her daughter since the White House publicized her wish for the whole world to pray for her.
"There is no cure for Sophia's condition," Karyn wrote some years ago at ninjakittensophia.com, the website she created for her family, as well as for those traveling similar paths with children in need of medical and divine intervention.
They temper the word "incurable" with the realization that Sophia's life remains a miracle.
"Sometimes the imaging shows that there is no additional narrowing. Sometimes the images show that there has been an increase in the narrowing," she said.
Though their emotions are sometimes raw in speaking or writing about Sophia, Andy and Karyn's words are ultimately testaments to their daughter's faith and God's amazing grace.
"Every day is a gift from God," Karyn said. "We hear that all of the time but, for Sophia, it truly is. We are constantly reminded that, at any moment, she could suffer another stroke. It could put her in a vegetative state, permanent paralysis, or end Sophia's life."
As Sophia's mother, Karyn empathizes with parents who have children with unknown, incurable, life-threatening diseases. Their pain, like her own, is unimaginable. When her faith needs a boost, Karyn turns to God's Word, the encouragement of her family, church members, friends, Sophia or her two other children.
"Our son, Jonah, once told us that God gave Sophia to us for a reason," Karyn said. "That God chose our family because we are the right one for her. We absolutely believe that."
It turns out Jonah was among the global prayer warriors who formed a wall of intercession around Sophia, though he was nearer than anybody to his sister—her bedside at Children's Hospital.
Both Christians, Andy and Karyn appreciate comments about the quality of Sophia's website, which chronicles their daughter's adventure of trial and faith, highlighted by adorable pictures of their princess.
In their prayer lives as husband and wife, they sense the Lord has bigger plans for Sophia, their family and the website that bears their daughter's name.
But they've experienced greater drama in life than most parent.
During the holidays in 2016, Sophia began suffering minor strokes. Images revealed that her right carotid was closed and the left posterior arteries were narrowing. Her brain's need for an alternative flow of blood outweighed the risks of surgery, which were unthinkable: A stroke during the operation would permanently paralyze or kill Sophia.
The operation—dural inversion vascularization—was performed successfully a few months later on Feb. 6, 2017; the results were nothing short of miraculous.
Predictions of weeks of recovery were false; two days following surgery, Sophia no longer needed pain medication and, by Day 3, she walked to the nurse's station to check on them, rather than them tending to her.
"This little girl has God on her side," one of the neurosurgeons told Andy and Karyn at the time.
Karyn believes that, too. So much so that, during the most horrific legs of their journey with Sophia, she has talked about her daughter—smiling and without tears—using the word miraculous to anybody listening.
Andy couldn't grasp why his wife so easily and openly shared their private family matters with strangers, until hearing Karyn recount one of many harrowing episodes with Sophia to a group of troop moms.
The words he heard for the first time were boasts of God's grace rather than intimate details of the family's most harrowing days with Sophia.
"I told him later that I must tell it," Karyn said. "In a world where things are so bad and ugly, when there is so much loss of faith, people have to hear Sophia's story, because it's a testament to God's grace and glory."
Andy credits Karyn with upkeep of Sophia's website, which produces tons of smiles and as many tears.
"The website really is a way for us to kind of archive and document some of the things we don't want to forget along the journey," said Andy, who provided updates on social media sites during Sophia's surgery in Boston.
But the permanent record, the website, is Karyn's domain.
"It's grown into this sort of global thing that's disseminating Sophia's story. But it's just a piece. We've really focused on the last few years of Sophia's life—really her entire life even before birth—a saga of her medical history, which is sometimes a mystery".
Andy and Karyn think the Lord is inspiring them to write a book about Sophia's medical journey, and ninjakittensophia.com is a starting point for their tales involving doctors, hospitals and tests, but it's much more.
"More importantly, it's a record of providence, of God's guidance and His grace.
"We know that Sophia—our family, really—has been blessed by God, who has called us to share her story. He's saved her for something and He has a plan for her and for us as a family," Andy said.
The global prayer chain, Andy and Karyn believe, is definitely part of God's plan.
Who asks 10,000 people to pray, gets a nod from the ruler of the free world and an invitation to the National Prayer Breakfast?
Though the record is unclear, it's believed Sophia is the youngest person to attend the annual event.
"We're so excited and humbled to have been catalysts, sort of, for this attention to God and His miraculous healing.
"But there's so much more to her story that we want to tell. We believe that, most likely, it's meant to be in a book form of some kind. We need to tell her story in all its chapters," Andy said.
At least one of its chapters will tell of Sophia's success mustering a world-wide prayer army, her flamboyant introduction to President Trump and her distinguished place of honor alongside royalty and mom, Karyn, in the nation's capital.
A key character, Andy and Karyn stress, is the heroic, inspirational behind-the-scenes work of Rep. Arrington and the White House Press Office in granting their daughter's wish when a mother from Texas called.
Steve Rees is a freelance Christian journalist who loves the church and writes about how it engages the culture and works toward fulfilling the Great Commission. He lives in Longmont, Colorado, and attends Resurrection Fellowship, a nondenominational, missions-driven church that honors all the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fivefold ministry offices.
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