Monday, August 1, 2011

TESTIMONY: Chad Reickard's Ashes To Beauty

Get the tissues out. 

I am so honored to have met Chad Reickard via cyberspace.  This is a story that Hollywood won't put on film, but should.  Chad and Kristin weren't following the Lord when they got married, had their first child, then had their second, only to lose little Kael after a few short weeks. 

God used their tragedies to turn ashes into beauty.  But watch out, their "beauty" may just radically change your life.

* * *

I’m a mechanical engineer and the father of four beautiful children:  my daughter Elliana, 10, my son Kael, who is in heaven, my son Jaevan, 4, and my soon-to-be daughter Aria, 3, and still living in China.  My life was empty till our Lord Jesus Christ saved me and changed me into who I am today.  I grew up in a church-attending home, but I never had a personal relationship with God.  I went to college, got a job, got married, and then had Elliana.  To the world, I had everything I needed.  Spiritually, I was empty and unfulfilled.  At the time, I was OK with that, but unknown to me, as we prepared for the birth of our second child, God was about to take my world, turn it upside down, spin it around, and throw it across the room.  My faith, my marriage, and my life was about to change….

Kael Xavier
Our second child and first son, Kael Xavier Reickard, was born on August 18, 2004. 
Little Kael gets a kiss from his big sis, Elliana, while mom Kristin holds him.

After only one week at home, we realized that something was seriously wrong with him.  We took him to the hospital and his bilirubin levels in his liver were off the chart, so we were told to go immediately to the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City, Iowa.  Once there, the doctors discovered that Kael was in liver failure and would need a liver transplant, which would take place at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.  Once we arrived, the doctors told us that babies rarely survive transplants until they are at least three months old.  In order for Kael to survive his transplant, he needed to stay alive long enough to reach the three-month mark.  So for the next six weeks, we lived at the Chicago Ronald McDonald house and visited Kael in the hospital every day.
Kael in the hospital.

Kael almost made it three months, but the Lord took him home the morning of October 7, 2004, and he was laid to rest on October 10, 2004, in Davenport, Iowa.
From Ashes…
I can’t even begin to describe what it’s like to lose a child.  I felt empty… like my heart had been ripped out of my chest.  Back then, I was not saved so I did not turn to the Lord.  Instead, I went in the opposite direction—I blamed God.  I was angry with Him for letting my son die.  I spent most of my time grieving over my son and being angry with God.  How could He do this?  Why did I deserve to lose a son?  Why did an innocent child have to suffer so much?  How could a loving God do such a thing?
In the fall of 2005, which was about a year after Kael died, we decided to try for another baby.  Kristin got pregnant and then after six or seven weeks, lost the baby.  Are you kidding me?  Not only did I lose a child, but I can’t have any more?  My anger exploded!  I declared to my wife that we were done having any kids whatsoever.
Harvest Bible Chapel
Before the miscarriage, my wife discovered a new church in the area and visited one Sunday when I was out of town.  She loved it.  They preached truth without apology, and fed her with God’s word, which she had been craving.  When I came, she told me all about this new church, but I was hesitant.  After several weeks, I finally agreed to give this new church a try.  I wasn’t sure about the church, but I liked the music, which was contemporary Christian.  We began to faithfully attend this new church in the late fall of 2005 and for the next year, seeds were planted in my soul.  Harvest preached God’s word with boldness and without apology.  I slowly began to realize that not only did I need to hear the truth, but I needed a Savior.  That summer, I gave my life to Christ and began my journey of dedicating my life to serving God and repairing the relationship with my wife, my daughter, and all those around me.
Once I placed God at the center of my life, my marriage, and my family, everything fell into place.  Just like Saul, the scales fell from my eyes! (Acts 9:18)  I used to think abortion and homosexuality were okay, but now I know they’re wrong and an abomination to God (Romans 1: 26-32).  The relationship with my wife has never been better!  Loving her and nurturing her as God intended completely changed our marriage.  By using the Lord’s word to teach and discipline my kids, I know that God is pleased in the direction they are heading in their faith.  We are now serving in the children’s ministry at church, giving our time and energy to assist in bringing more kids to Jesus.  My life has purpose now and I look forward to the day I meet and kneel before my Savior!
To Beauty…
After the miscarriage, my wife was already thinking about adoption, but I would have nothing to do with it.  This was mostly due to my anger, but I had also never pictured having kids that were not from me.  It didn’t make sense to me how a child that wasn’t biologically mine, could love me as their father.  Once I gave my life to Christ, and began to study the Bible, my heart slowly softened and I came to realize that it might actually be possible for a Father to love a child that wasn’t biologically his.  So I told my wife one morning at church that I was ready to start the adoption process.
We found an agency, filled out all the paperwork, and began the long process of waiting.  We started with China, but after a year of waiting, switched to South Korea.  Oh, how God closes doors and opens others!  We thought we were starting over on the South Korea list, but after only thirty days, we received a referral late January of 2007.  A little boy named Jee Sauk was waiting for us in South Korea.  We immediately accepted the referral and began the process of bringing him home.  Jaevan Jee, whom we call JJ, arrived into the United States on September 3, 2008.
JJ, destined for royalty.  The "royal priesthood," that is!

Defending the Fatherless

We initially started the adoption process to add another child to our family.  We believed we were blessing the life of the child we were adopting.  In the end, JJ blessed our lives beyond comprehension.  Here we thought we were blessing him, when in turn God used JJ to bless us. 

Welcome to America, JJ!

We have learned so much about God’s heart since JJ joined our family.  Through His commandment to “defend the fatherless” (Isaiah 1:17) and to “look after orphans” (James 1:27), I slowly began to realize that I have a responsibility to the orphan, as one of God’s people, while we are here on Earth.  Even though I’m a fairly new believer, I now understand God’s love for adoption since He adopted me into His family by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5).

Life is good!  JJ today, with his beautiful sister Elliana.

Round Two

In the summer of 2010, my wife approached me about adopting another child.  We were only able to afford JJ’s adoption by getting a loan, which we are still paying off.  I told her that before we could consider another adoption, I would need a new higher paying job.  Oh, how God is faithful to his children!  Two weeks later I received a job offer from a large family-owned company.  I don’t normally get obvious signs from God, so I could not ignore this one!  I gladly took the new job, leaving my current job of twelve and a half years.

We started praying about which country we should choose.  We again, felt led to adopt from China but this time through the special-needs program.  It was difficult trying to decide which special needs our family could handle, but our social worker insisted that we be honest with ourselves and put down only those conditions that we felt we could handle.  We did, and mailed our application along with the small application fee.

When we sent in our application, I had no idea where the money would come from.  I just knew that if I was obedient to God, that He would be faithful to us.  I shocked my wife by informing her that we need to ignore the fact that we didn’t have the funds, and instead have faith in God, trusting that He would provide.  Can you imagine the surprise on her face?  Her husband, who used to be destined for hell, who never knew God, who used to live for worldly things, had now turned his life completely around and was stepping out in obedience by trusting in his Savior.

This adoption would be different.  This time, we desired to be obedient to God.  We had room in our home for another child and God had placed a love for the orphan in our hearts.  Have I mentioned God’s faithfulness?  With the help of numerous friends and donations, we had an adoption garage sale in the spring of 2011 and raised almost one-third of the money we needed!  Then we were able to raise the remaining funds by deducting from various investments.
One week after the garage sale, God blessed us again!  We received our referral!  Jiang Si Qing is a little three-year-old girl living in China with CHD (Congenial Heart Disease).  Remember how we filled out all the special needs that we felt we could handle?  Well, God had other plans for us!  We never wrote down CHD.  Our social worker just sent us the referral and said, “I know you didn’t write down CHD, but see what you think.”  See what we think?!?  How can I look on this beautiful little child of God and turn my back to her?!?  God could only be more explicit by sending an airplane to write “Adopt Jiang” across the sky!  We accepted and are now waiting to travel to China to bring her home, hopefully before her birthday in late December.
Aria's referral pics.

God’s way is better
As I look back at my life, I can’t believe how much patience the Lord has.  God could have given up on me a long time ago, but instead, He waited for me… and waited… and waited.  Even through all my sins, curses, and disobedience.  Can you image your child being that way—for YEARS?!?  DECADES?!?  God’s love, grace, and mercy are much more than we can ever comprehend in this life.
Someday, I’ll understand God’s plan for me, my family, and my children, but until then, I’ll continue to have faith in Him, keep reading His word, and strive for righteousness.  God’s way is best and if we turn from our sinful selves, accept His gift of salvation, and repent, He will bless His children.  He will not leave us as orphans (John 14:18).

Men, I need your testimonies!  As you can see from past ones posted here, all it entails is speaking from the heart.  Such a simple thing, though, can radically change some reader's life direction for Christ and can even save a life! 
Just send me an email and I'll give you details.  Thank you so much for playing a part in God's expanding kingdom! 
~ Anthony


  1. Oh my gosh! I have goose bumps. We too are adopting from China special needs. We are waiting for a referral. We had to turn a referral down. It broke our hearts, but we knew that this was not the girl for us. We knew that we were depriving a family of this girl if we would say yes out of guilt. Imagine my surprise when I read this blog and saw her picture! Praise God she has a family! I am so thrilled for them. Because we said no, she is with the family that God had for her. We are still waiting to be matched again. Just so neat to see the hand of God. I don't have to wonder where she went. She is going to a Christian family. Praise God!

  2. Thank you Chad for sharing this beautiful, amazing story of redemption and love! God is so good!

  3. WOW! That was absolutely amazing!
    His salvation testimony is much like my husband's. He walked the aisle and prayed a prayer when he was 10, but his heart never changed. And nobody for 30 years ever questioned his faith. Nobody.
    Until we began attending our current church, which actually preaches the true gospel, not the 'God has a wonderful plan for your life' garbage. The pastor walked my hubby through 1 John, testing his faith. (2 Cor 13:5) Praise God, his eyes were opened that night and he realized that he was never saved. He cried out to the Lord to save him for a whole year. (He didn't want to assume he was saved after 30 yrs of living a lie.) When he realized that he was convicted of things he'd never been convicted about, and he hated his sin, he knew that God had indeed changed his heart.
    All glory to God!

  4. What an incredible testimony! Thank you for sharing. My husband and I read these together and this one was particularly moving and inspirational. God is so Good.

  5. @Anonymous, wow! Is God good or WHAT?! We're all smiles over here, praising God for His perfect sovereignty, foreknowledge, and most of all, LOVE! Thank you for letting everyone, especially the Reickards, know who you are. Praying for your destined match!

    To the others, thank you for writing! Like it's touched you, I am praying that their story not only moves couples to adopt, but for those who don't know the amazing relationship with Christ, to be born again. Please join my prayer!

  6. Just amazing! I LOVE how the Father works things out. What a beautiful, beautiful story of redemption.

    Thanks for sharing your incredible story, Chad.

  7. Morning Bro - thanks for the e-mail yesterday - kinda shook me out of my lethargic state. I messed up my ankle a couple weeks ago - and have been pretty much confined to the couch for the last 10 days or so - at least I don't need surgery!

    Great stuff here - and ya know - sometimes we guys just need to shut up and listen!



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