There are times in life when things get tough. We wonder if we will ever make it through. These are the times that define who we are. -Joel Ryals, Jonathan’s father, owner of Dunetos K9
The Ryals family is dear to us here at BW/LAF and we thank all who joined us in prayer when their son fell into a prolonged, 14 hour seizure approximately 10 months ago. The story of Jonathan Ryals has been a miraculous one. Trouble-shooting any life threatening situation is harrowing but from the time his health journey began even until now, the Ryals have been blessed to mark out God’s specific providential care of their son.
For those of you who don’t know the story behind Jonathan’s Journey, here is a ‘year’ in review, highlighting some of the blessing the Ryals have been praising God for.
The day that Jonathan’s Journey began, his father Joel happen to be in for lunch from training the K9’s. Jonathan hadn’t been feeling quite right but nothing overly remarkable foretold what was about to happen. One of the K9’s seemed to indicate something was wrong as they’re known to do.
Jonathan was sitting on his father’s lap the very moment he started seizing. Back to back seizures threatened his breathing and so while Joel worked to stabilize his son, his wife Candie, having prior knowledge of how emergency services work, navigated around a delayed 911 call. Once at a local hospital, unresponsive to anti-seizure medication, Jonathan stopped breathing as ER doctors where examining him. He was intubated and sent to a Children’s hospital about an hour away where 20 doctors where awaiting his arrival.
When we got word of where Jonathan was headed next, it wasn’t hard to note part of God’s intentions in moving the Ryals to the area shortly before hand. With medications still failing and Jonathan still seizing, it wasn’t until 14 hours after it all had begun that Jonathan was finally at a non-seizure status. Candie writes,
“There was an uphill battle from that point (due [to] the medication needed to stop the seizures) in balancing his BP, his blood sugars, and his lactic acid that was high enough to be a danger. They ended up having to pull out the biggest gun they had, which ultimately was to put Jonathan into a medically induced coma in order to shut the brain down and stop the seizing activity. It was a rough 24 hours.”
The Ryals continued to work with the doctors to trace the source of the problem. The Lord answered the many prayers for clarity and direction, through the diligence of a medical professional as she researched similar testimonies mirroring Jonathan’s symptoms. The tests were ordered and finally there was confirmation. Jonathan was suffering from a Bartonella infection which had broken the blood-brain barrier. His nervous system was compromised and so he was seizing.
Candie writes, “The reality that we almost lost Jonathan twice that day within a matter of hours is still daunting to me.”
As the journey continued we waited with them, we prayed with them, and we all wondered what the outcome would be. Candie recently wrote to us about one of the weighty concerns she shared with her husband. What affect would all of this have on Jonathan’s knowledge of God?
“[To] not know if Jonathan could talk, …we prayed that the Lord wouldn’t leave him, that Jonathan would remember he was a child of the Most High God. Jonathan really wrestled with his sin and watching him give his life to the Lord was intense for me. I’ve just never seen someone really come to the Lord with such passion after such struggle. I’ve read about it, but never witnessed it. And then to not know if he would wake….would he be able to talk…and then realize he might not even remember things…what about his remembering he was a child of the King? I prayed so much over this. Joel and I both did. It was pretty huge to me. So the impact of his first words being “sing, sing…” And then playing that recording from our family friend of “Amazing Grace”…I didn’t expect him to sing with it…but he did! And he remembered the words…I mean it was big. He sang praises to his Lord for hours that first night.”
Jonathan’s faith was not lost. The fruit of his conversion is still blooming even now. His life is equally marked by his quick repentance and confession of sorrow for sins as it is with his hopes and joys as he trusts in the Lord moving forward.
Being within the recovery process and working now with the unusual nature of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), means Jonathan has many daily struggles he works through with the help of his parents under the continued guidance of medical professionals. The weaning off of medications and the impact withdrawals have, the struggle with discernment, the longing for energy to play with his siblings as he used to, can be a cause of discouragement and at times fear as he adjusts. He along with his service dog continue to work with his family at the training facility with the strength the Lord allows him. He recently began his studies again too.
The Ryals have benefited from those reaching out with advice, connections to medical specialists, special gifts, and more, all for which they’ve expressed continual gratitude for the much needed support. A journey such as this is one the body of Christ must walk together. We’ve counted it a honor to share in the burden as the Lord has allowed. Jonathan’s Journey has been invigorating to our faith as we witnessed Christ working in the life of a young believer. Jonathan’s Journey has been a reminder that God is transcendent and can testify to Himself in any circumstance. Christ is the miracle of Christianity. Every other belief system man tries to live by and draw hope from is powerless. Christ is powerful enough to save our souls but also works to establish restoration to creation, including our human bodies, if He wills.
As Jonathan continues his journey, he has medical expenses coming in now along side his need for continued therapies and treatments. To fund his recovery he, his twin, along with his older sister have come up with the idea to train a dog for a special person (or two!). In Jonathan-like fashion, he’d like to extend a blessing to his supporters by offering a chance to win a champion trained dog to one or two of those offering a donation of $50 or more. A raffle will be held after $7,500 is raised and a second raffle will follow should the donations reach $15,000. The K9’s will be trained by him with the support of his father and siblings at the Dunetos K9 training facility. This is a special opportunity to help a special boy as well as a chance to win a professionally trained K9 for a fraction of the price. We hope you’ll join us in continuing to pray, in charitable giving, and by sharing Jonathan’s story as you feel led. Donations can be made here.