"But Dad, why do the doctors want the little boy to die?"
My six-year-old son asked the question with genuine confusion, plaintively and hesitantly. Like someone who knows deep in his soul that something just isn't right.
It was last Wednesday, April 25. And it was bedtime for my two older boys, ages 6 and 3. Time for bedtime prayers.
I had asked that we include a little boy named Alfie Evans in our prayers. I had explained to my boys that little Alfie was very sick, and the doctors didn't know what was wrong with him. He needed help breathing and eating because he was too sick to do it on his own. But the people at the hospital had concluded that Alfie was not going to get any better. So a couple days ago they had stopped helping him to breathe and eat. I told my sons that now Alfie and his parents needed a miracle.
That's when my son had asked the question, "Why do the doctors want the little boy to die?"
I tried as best as I could to explain to my sons that the doctors did not want Alfie to die. They had just given up. I told them that Alfie's mom and dad had not given up. "Alfie's mom and dad want to try to take him to a different hospital that might be able to help him," I told my boys. "They are hoping for a miracle."
"Are they going to go to the different hospital?" my son asked hopefully.
"I don't think the government is going to let them go to a different hospital." I explained to my kids that Alfie's family lives over in England. And the hospital rules in England are different from America's. The government runs the hospitals. And if the parents want to do one thing, but the hospital people decide to do something else, it is the government that makes the final decision. I continued, "In the United States the mom and dad can take their kids to any hospital. We have freedom."
The different levels of freedom are something I hoped my son would understand. We've been reading the Rush Revere book series lately so he is beginning to grasp concepts such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and self-determination.
My thoughts drifted to my third son, the one who was already asleep in the next room. He's almost 2 years old. The same age as Alfie Evans. One of my greatest joys is to hold my son right after he wakes up from a nap and all he wants to do is burrow into my shoulder, all warm and snuggly. That's what I think of when I see the pictures of Alfie's mom holding him in the hospital. I think of holding my son.
My six-year-old interrupted my thoughts by saying, "Maybe if everybody in the whole world prays for Alfie, God will give him a miracle." So we prayed. My two healthy, vibrant boys and I prayed for a sick little boy & his parents on the other side of the world.
As an institutional church, we CAN speak out about almost anything. Solar panels. Wind turbines. Tax law. Medicaid budgets. Gentrification of inner-city neighborhoods. Immigration quotas. People getting kicked out of Starbucks.
At synod this year there will be a discussion about which issues denominational employees should get involved in, and whether or not CRC resources should be used to support certain political causes. But can speak and should speak are 2 very different things. What SHOULD the denomination speak out about?
Should the CRC speak out about Alfie's parents and their God-given authority to take their son to whatever hospital they decide will provide the best care?
Or maybe, the arrogance of government bureaucrats who have elevated themselves to the unjust position of creating and dispensing (or denying) rights, rather than the God-ordained responsibility of protecting them?
Or, should the CRC call out the tendency of those in power (like the British judges) to circle the wagons around "their people" (the hospital staff) even when that means doubling down on very bad decisions?
Alfie passed away on Saturday. Has the CRC said anything about him?