Baby Luke, a new member of the family, brings about a chain reaction of community
Aug. 4, 2019.
That was the day a 6-pound, 12-ounce world-changer was born. Since his first breath, he shook my world for the better and brought along a chain reaction of community.
This world-changer is my little cousin Luke.
The story begins three hours after Luke was born. At 3 a.m. he was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit and diagnosed with Group B Strep Infection. The infection attacked his little lungs and spread to his bloodstream. And as if that wasn’t heart-stopping enough, Luke’s oxygen levels dropped to 20 percent that night. Doctors swarmed him, manually pumping air into his tiny body, keeping him alive minute by minute, second by second.
“That day when he almost died, having that community of nurses and doctors was huge, because as a mom … having the baby almost die and not being able to do anything to save him, you realize God really puts people in your path, and in the baby’s path, to carry out what needs to be carried out,” said Luke’s mother, Amy Barajas.
At dawn, a text lit up my screen sharing the news within a family group chat, and suddenly, the family knew what was going on.
As each family member saw that initial text, we began to clear our schedules, both mentally and physically, to be there for our loved ones: my mom called off work and immediately met the Barajas family at the hospital; my aunt began to create a schedule for fixed meals; and my grandparents got on their knees and began to pray.
We were afraid and unaware of what was next, but we knew we needed to love, support and meet their needs.
Luke’s journey was far from over — he was put on a breathing machine and intubated in a clear, enclosed capsule, shut away from noise and touch. Earmuffs blocked out sound, a blindfold shut away light, and he couldn’t even be held. But the communal necessity began to grow even further. This time on social media.
Amy Barajas began posting updates about Luke using the hashtags “#prayersforbabyluke” and “#notrace.”
“If two or more are together in His presence, He is with them, and that’s what I felt coming through social media,” said Amy Barajas when speaking about the power of prayer. “The more people we shared [Luke’s story] with, the more people were praying, and God’s glory was exalted through that.”
This social community spread far and wide, and as Adrian Barajas, Luke’s father, said, “[It] was crazy to get messages and comments from Ireland and different parts of the world and from people we didn’t even know and parents that had gone through this … We knew we weren’t alone in this situation.”
Through patience, perseverance and prayer, the atmosphere began to shift. A week later, Luke began to breathe on his own and the tubes that lined his 20 inch body began to slowly fall away.
But as life continually leads us down unknown roads, a spinal tap revealed that Luke’s infection had spread to his brain. He was diagnosed with meningitis and seizures. A couple of days later, an MRI showed that the meningitis had caused severe damage to the brain, putting Luke in jeopardy of never being able to walk, talk or eat.
This served as another chance for community.
“We had all the family over and told the family about the MRI results,” said Amy Barajas. “They [said they would] be there for us, and everyone rallying together around us to pray helped us have some peace … and helped us feel like we weren’t carrying the whole burden by ourselves.”
During that gathering, a verse echoed by my aunt flooded the home:
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2.
God never intended for us to go into combat alone. He strategically placed individuals within our lives — from family, to those across the globe, to doctors — to help establish a foundation of support.
“Normally, I don’t let people in, but because of the circumstances, heaviness and sadness, I couldn’t bear it on my own — I broke down,” said Adrian Barajas. “[God] takes our pain and suffering, and He knows, as humans, it’s important to have others there. By sharing the burden, God brings comfort.”
After 34 days in the NICU, Luke conquered meningitis and was finally able to go home to mom, dad and big sister Amelia.
Photo courtesy of Ruby McAuliffe.
When daunting realities such as Luke’s story enter our lives, it can seem easy to shut out the world. But we have another choice: to allow God to intercede through those around us and to share our burdens. Through that, a flame of kinship is ignited within the community.
“I didn’t notice how such a tiny human could affect people so profoundly, and that was God’s hand over him,” said Amy Barajas. “There is something there –– it’s not all bad news.”