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The Browns – Tom, Ali, Crescena, Bez, & Ber
November 6, 2013 8:46 am
Published in: Uncategorized

It is Kenyan culture to have a chai (tea) break mid-morning in which you partake in chai and break from working.  During “Chai time” at the Aim Air hangar, there is chapel 3 times a week.  I had the honor of speaking at chai time chapel several weeks ago.  After thought and prayer, I decided to share my testimony.  Here is a slightly edited version of what I shared, with fabulous health news I received since sharing (the testimony will shed light on how awesome the news is!)

“When I married Tom, I knew that I was not only saying “I do” to love, honor, serve, and respect Tom for the rest of my life, but I was also committing to be a missionary, at least for a time.

When Tom and I were married, I said: “I do not want to travel to a different land only to sit at home and raise children, I want a role too!”  So, we delayed 2 years so I could get my certificate in Counseling and my plan was to serve at Tumaini (AIM’s counseling center).  Please understand, serving at Tumaini is an amazing ministry, and one I still hope to maybe do someday.  The problem was not in my hope to serve, but in my finding my identity, value, and worth in WHAT I DID, instead of who I am in Christ.  The Lord had a hard lesson to teach me.  He must know how hard it is to change my heart, because He used some drastic measures to teach me.

Well, as Tom and I were in North Carolina for Tom to do his final training, before coming to Nairobi, I went to see a doctor to get a physical in order to be cleared to come serve in Kenya with Tom.  They found a goiter… a swollen thyroid.  Within two weeks, I was so weak I could barely stand up sometimes.  I went from being a new mom, teaching at a university, working in a counseling center, and being very involved in our church to barely being able to keep our daughter alive and get decent food on the table.  All I wanted to do was sleep and when my legs threatened to collapse, I could not hold our 7 month old daughter.  I had no family in the area and no established community.  I was alone and humbled by my illness.

I would cry out to the Lord in prayer and anger saying: “We are headed to do YOUR work, are you not aware that I can’t do anything right now?”

1 Peter 4:12

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

I was surprised by the challenge and health condition… not only surprised, but also confused, angry, depressed, hopeful, and scared.

We quickly learned I have Graves Disease (Don’t worry- you can’t “get” it from me!)… it’s an autoimmune disease of my thyroid; basically, my body is attacking itself- my thyroid specifically and causing everything in my body to be too fast… being fast, it gets over-tired, weak, and exhausted.

I have been sick now for almost 2 years.  Though there have been many times of discouragement, hopelessness, and tears, I would not trade the work that has been done on my heart.  When what you get done in a day is reduced down to survival, finding your identity in what you “do” instead of who you are is stripped away.

Part of why I wanted to share my story with you today is that I know many of you saw Tom leave last November, return in January, leave, and return again.  How many of you know why?

We went home for a wedding and for me to undergo a treatment called Radio Active Iodine- that hopefully killed my thyroid.  So, the organ my body was attacking is dead and the hope is that I will be healthy now.  I am still in the process of doctors determining the right dose of medication to try to mimic the functions of my now dead organ, and thus still struggling with fluctuations in health and strength.

I am doing exactly what I told Tom I would NOT do: I stay at home and raise the beautiful daughter the Lord has blessed us with!  I am in awe that I don’t long to “do more” … I long to “be more” … to grow in Godly character and to be molded into who Christ wants me to be.

1 Peter 5:10

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

I long for Christ to restore me… not just my health, but my heart and mind to His ways.  I want Him to confirm His truth, character, and faithfulness in me.  I want be strengthened back to health, and strengthened in faith and obedience.  Oh that others would say that I am “established” in Christ!”

The character part is still a work in progress, but just last week I was deemed “stable” on thyroid replacement hormone!  After basically monthly visits to the lab and endocrinologist, my endocrinologist said: “See you in 6 months”.  As we drove away from the doctor still elated from the news, Tom said: “Two years to the month.”  I didn’t understand and he reminded me that I was diagnosed with Graves Disease in October 2011 in North Carolina.  After 2 YEARS of petitioning for healing and wisdom in treatment, I am basically back to normal.  If you are petitioning the Lord and think He is not listening… I had several “dark nights/days” where I doubted a positive outcome.  THANK YOU for joining us in prayer for this… OUR GOD IS FAITHFUL!!!

Disclaimer: I celebrate and also covet continued prayer: it seems that autoimmune diseases come in packs and that I am gluten intolerant (among other things).  For the most part I feel GREAT, but I do still have days of unexplainable brain-fog and weakness that I assume is due to something I unknowingly ate.  We also long to have more kids, and the process will be a bit more complicated without a thyroid.  Should I be able to get pregnant (some struggle with autoimmune diseases in general and many post-RAI), I will have to be very closely monitored.

2 Responses to “Health Testimony”

  1. Beth Kowal Says:

    Hello Ali,
    Thank you for your testimony and share. Praise God that you are feeling better, have answers and clarity. That give me hope! It’s been almost 7 months since my thyroidectomy and I’m learning to live a ‘new normal’ with less energy. Though, I do notice more spurts of energy early in the week after I’ve rested on the weekend. I take what I can get, and take care of myself the rest of the time. I, too have all sorts of food intolerances and have to be very careful with my diet. I am not sure if I will be able to live in a country where I don’t have access to the food/nutrition I need. I know God calls me to where he wants me, and my desire is to follow Him where he leads me (though my ego and sell will still drag its feet). I will continue to pray for you and Tom and your ministry. Peace to you my friend, Beth

  2. Robi Says:

    Lovely story of suffering and God’s grace, growth and healing…thanks for sharing so honestly Ali! I will continue to pray for you. Love you!

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