Kaleb Reed has dealt with health issues from a young age. He received a kidney transplant at 2 years old and is on medication that lowers his immune system, which makes him more prone to infection and sickness.
In October, he started complaining of headaches. Doctors pinned it on a sinus infection until Oct. 22 when Kaleb Reed went unconscious. Doctors then realized he was having seizures, and a spinal tap revealed he suffered from fungal meningitis.
“He was obviously in bad shape,” Erik Reed said. “He was in an altered state, not responsive at all for 21 days. His brain had legions on it from the meningitis.”
Kaleb Reed lost his motor and speech functions, and for the next three months, the hospital was his home.
“He finally smiled one time. He would squeeze our fingers,” Erik Reed said. “From a physical standpoint, he was now dealing with the affects of the stroke. His right side was severely diminished. He was sent to Atlanta for rehabilitation and spent three weeks doing inpatient rehabilitation. He started to regain ability to walk, move his arms, and he started speech therapy. He was in some type of hospital for 95 straight days.”
With its pastor on leave, Journey Church pulled together.
“When he went unconscious, our church had a big prayer meeting,” Erik Reed said. “Our church was just incredible through this whole process. I didn’t preach any during those 95 days. We had other staff members who did. It was just incredible how the church stepped up both internally to take care of itself in my absence, but also took care of my family praying for us and encouraging us. They brought us meals and gift cards and walked beside us through this whole thing.”
Other members of the community also came to support Kaleb Reed.
“We’re thankful for the entire community’s support. The Lebanon Police Department and police chief came and visited him while he was in ICU. He just had so much support from the community. Churches and pastors have been praying for him, so it’s not just been our church; it’s been a community thing. So many churches in the area and pastors have been encouraging to us. We just want to say thank you for all of that.”
Erik Reed planted the church 12 years ago. He grew up in Lebanon, but his mother and father didn’t really attend church.
“I grew up in this area and went to church a little bit at Barton’s Creek. I would go with my grandmother when I would spend the night with her. When we started the church, my mom became a part of it, and my dad did, too. So both of them went from not going to church my whole life to attending our church, and now they don’t miss.”
Erik Reed said he found the inspiration from God while serving in the Armed Forces.
“I was in the Army for four years, and it was during that time that the Lord really started working in my life and bringing me back to a faith and walking with Him and a desire to help others. Really the desire was to help others to experience and to know God in a way that I had formerly neglected. So one of my desires was that our church would be a place where people could really come to understand the gospel and the things that He’s done,” Erik Reed said.
With two Saturday night and three Sunday services, Journey Church reaches more than 1,000 people each week. There are also Wednesday evening services.
“We encourage people to be a part of our worship services corporately, but we also encourage people to be involved in groups, which is where most of the discipleship happens. We have a big emphasis on discipleship and people learning how to live the gospel in every facet of their lives, not just on Sundays. Our faith does not have a compartment that it gets put in just on Sundays or Wednesdays,” Erik Reed said.
The road ahead for Kaleb Reed may be a long one, but he is a good way through his recovery. His school, Mt. Juliet Christian Academy, has worked with the family to come up with an education plan while he goes through therapy.
“His mental capacity is all there. He didn’t lose any of his mental capacity. He is gaining pretty rapidly his physical ability, able to walk and sit up and grab things. He’s back to playing Playstation, so he’s pretty happy about that. From a speech perspective, he’s still pretty limited. He can use his voice and say words. He has a hard time stringing sentences together, because the motor skills and breath support, he’s still working to put all of that back together,” Erik Reed said.
As far as finding God during the troublesome time, Erik Reed said he was focused on remaining faithful no matter what.
“We know the Lord allows us to go through things in this life that are hard. But the Lord also uses those things in our lives and the lives of others. So He’s taught us to be dependent on Him and trust Him and recognize that He has a plan for Kaleb’s life,” Erik Reed said. “It has been an incredible opportunity for Kaleb to be a witness, and we as a family, we see this as an opportunity to be a witness. Yeah, we think the prayers helped for Kaleb’s recovery and healing, but we also believe the prayers helped sustain us and helped give us strength to keep going day one through day 95.
“A lot of times when we’re praying in the midst of our suffering, we should be just as prayerful that He would sustain us through it as opposed to getting us out of it. So we obviously want healing for our son, but more than anything, we wanted to remain faithful through this time.”