Recently we said a fond farewell to our parishioner family, Byron and Carol Forster along with their three children Lachlan, Emily and Abigail. It’s always a mixture of sadness and thanksgiving when a church member or family leaves a church well. We heard from Byron and were able to pray for them all as they make a new start with a different church family in Bunbury offering fellowship for their children with friends from school. Byron shared the following with us for this blog post:
The Forsters have been members of our church for the past 12 years. They first attended St. Nics when they were looking to have their son, Lachlan, baptized. It was suggested by Father Brian Newing that perhaps they would like to attend a few services before the baby was baptized into the church. Following the baptism service Byron and Carol felt that they didn’t want to leave and that they belonged here at St Nics. Father Brian and Byron developed a close bond and were able to work through Byron’s personal struggles with a troubled childhood and the ongoing struggles that were still evident since his teenage years. The next few years were a battle culminating in justice being served against the perpetrator of his lost childhood, as well as the ongoing addiction he used to numb the pain. God’s impeccable timing meant he could use Father Brian’s life experience to help a young man find his way to faith in a good God of love, mercy, and grace.
Carol’s second pregnancy with their daughter Emily was their biggest test of faith yet. It was discovered at the 20-week anatomy scan that the baby was actually infected with a virus from a very early point in her development. If she survived birth, she would most likely suffer severe complications and lifelong disabilities. They were offered to terminate the pregnancy, but they refused, stating that it was up to God what happened going forward. It seemed to be a very dire outcome for this family.
During this time Byron and Carol leant heavily on their faith to give them strength and hope. They returned to their church family at St Nics to pray. Many, many prayers were offered for Emily. Rev. Joe Sullivan led a prayer circle around Carol, speaking in tongues over her and the life growing inside her. The most amazing feeling of radiating heat was felt by Carol, as well as others in the circle including Byron. The baby continued to grow in utero, and ongoing scans revealed normal growth of the baby. This was unexpected by doctors, who were still preparing the family for the expected complications. While Emily was showing that things were going well, abnormalities in the brain caused by the virus known as CMV were evident. While this virus is fairly common in the general population, the survival of rate of in-utero infections is very low and was not well researched at the time.
Emily came into the world a little small, but healthy. She spent time in the NICU wing of King Edward Hospital and future plans were discussed with doctors. Byron and Carol decided to not go ahead with other treatments as she appeared to be doing well. However, they allowed the doctors to test her core blood and platelets to look for answers. This is where God’s handiwork in Emily was revealed. Testing showed that the damaged cells had been BURNT OUT! Emily left the hospital as a healthy baby and continues to be a healthy young lady to this day. What a true miracle this was and is tangible evidence that faith, hope and collective prayers in Jesus name really can produce a miracle.
Since then they have added to their faith thanks to the teaching of Pastor Jamie and others in the church. Byron attributes the one-on-one study with Alf Holmen, as well as the Men’s Group as key areas that have taught him about his relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. When the Men’s Group ran the Alpha course Byron was able to invite his best mate Mark, who has since been baptized into the faith.
Byron, Carol and the children will be missed by us all. We all wish them well in their new location.