Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As you know, our family went on a camping trip to Fall Creek Falls last year on October 16th. My wife, Tiffany, and I had taken two of our three sons, Colby, who was four and Caleb, who was two, on their very first camping trip. Our 9-month-old, Connor, stayed behind with family in Nashville. We were enjoying a beautiful day in the park with the boys and had hiked to the bottom of Fall Creek Falls. We had no sooner reached the bottom when a large boulder came crashing down the steep slope from more than two hundred and fifty feet above. Little Caleb was struck in the head. We rushed back up the trail with the help of various angels nearby, and Caleb was airlifted to TC Thompson Children’s Hospital in Chattanooga. There he remained for nearly a month in critical condition. Another month followed in Atlanta, where Caleb underwent intensive rehab at Scottish Rite. Only then were we finally able to finally bring Caleb home to Nashville. After two long, excruciating months, we were given the chance to start life over as a family again.
Caleb’s recovery has been nothing short of miraculous. After emerging from his coma, Caleb had to start over, literally. He had to relearn practically everything, like a newborn. And perhaps that’s what it was — he had been reborn. Within the first few months, thanks to the many amazing doctors and therapists, coupled with the fervent prayers of many tens of thousands of kind, caring folks all over the world, including yours, Caleb has regained over 2 years his development. Caleb is three-and-a-half now, and is doing more than we’d ever dreamed possible — walking, talking, running, jumping, and doing everything he can to be the little boy he was before. We still have a long way to go with his rehabilitation, but he’s a trouper, and each day we see him learn and do new things. We cannot help but be hopeful for his full recovery.
This accident changed our lives forever, in ways we could never have foreseen. Through it all, God has made Himself very present to us in countless miraculous ways. It was our faith that sustained us through the worst of everything that happened, and it has been our faith that has sustained us ever since. It’s easy to take life’s blessings for granted, not selfishly or ungratefully, but simply without realizing. You never expect life to change so dramatically, within seconds, and you certainly don’t ever expect to wake up one morning to find your healthy, happy child now has special needs. But I will say that each day I am thankful. God is so good, so generous. Every time I see Caleb smile, play with a toy, or hear him say, “I love you, Daddy,” I am reminded of God’s faithfulness to us. Our Father is One who always keeps His promises.
We still have a long way to go. Though Caleb has regained much of what he lost, he still suffers deficits with his speech, vision, balance, motor skills and general awareness. We hope to have him begin a special education preschool soon. Along with caring for our other three children, we regularly work with Caleb on therapy and help him with his exercises nightly. He continues to attend outpatient rehab at Vanderbilt, but we hope that, in time, he will eventually only need the therapy that we can perform with him at home.
There have been many things that we have learned over the past year — lessons about marriage, family, what it means to have a relationship with God, and how that relationship plays out in our day to day lives, how God acts in our world and why bad things happen to good people, living life for God’s glory no matter what the circumstances, prayer, forgiveness, faith, unity among Christians, miracles and how God still works today, and most important, love. These lessons are shared as we lived and learned them, in a book that I am now putting together. It is our fervent wish that one day God will use these writings to bless the lives of other families who may go through the struggles that we have, so that they may come out with their faith and families intact.
In the meantime, I feel compelled to write you for two reasons. One is to personally thank each of you and your congregation as a whole for all your prayers, both when Caleb was in the hospital and now. Your prayers and thoughts have inspired and helped us, and I have no doubt they lie at the root of the many miracles witnessed in Caleb’s healing.
The second reason is that I would welcome the opportunity to personally share with your congregation our story so they may see what their prayers have accomplished in our family’s lives. Caleb’s story is so much more than just the story of a little boy who was tragically injured by a falling boulder. That’s the story the media told. It is also more than the story of how tens of thousands prayed for him all over the world and how God healed him. That’s the story people—
—experienced on Facebook. First and foremost, Caleb’s story is the story of how God shapes His children and reveals lessons to them about life, and walking with Him. It’s these lessons that I have a burning desire to share with others.
So, I would very much welcome the chance to speak with you on:
1. Caleb’s Story and the Lessons Learned – an overview of our journey.
2. A Faith that Moves Mountains – These are the lessons I taught prior to our trip to Fall Creek Falls, without realizing at the time that God was using them to prepare us. They played out like a blueprint to everything we experienced.
3. Marriage and Family – Studies show that 85% of all couples who go through what we have gone through end up in divorce, allowing events to tear them apart instead of draw them together in support. Through our journey, we have been fortunate to have learned the keys to what keeps marriages together for a lifetime.
4. Walking with God – God showed us that walking with Him requires four essential elements to live the abundant life that Christ promised.
5. Where Is God When Bad Things Happen? – The question of God’s Sovereignty has been asked since the beginning of time. For us, the question was settled when we had to come face to face with whether our son was going to live or die.
6. Does God Still Work Today? – Throughout this entire journey with Caleb, we experienced God in a way in which we had never experienced Him before. The evidence was everywhere that God indeed does still work today.
7. Hearing God’s Voice – Though it was something entirely new to us, it was undeniable that, during everything we went through, God spoke to us directly, through His Word, through dreams and visions, and through others. God still speaks to us today in many ways. And over the last year we have been surprised by some of the means that God has used to communicate his love and truth to us. Here I share what we have learned and experienced.
8. The Power of Prayer – We learned much about prayers as thousands prayed for our son and we watched the miracle of his healing. Prayer is the intimate communication between God and us; it has less to do with shaping what God does than it does about shaping us into the image of Christ.
9. The Peace of Forgiveness – Caleb’s accident was not an accident at all. It was caused by two teenagers and could have been prevented. Here, I talk about how I had to come to grips with my own anger and how God provides the peace of forgiveness.
10. A Church for God’s Glory – There are few times when we as Christians actually lay aside our denominational differences and come together and unite in Christ. After Caleb was injured, we saw the miracle of unity, as love was the banner that united numerous believers to pray for a common purpose — the healing of our son. Here, I offer an open dialogue about some of the things we learned and some thoughts that may help answer Jesus’s prayer for us, that we may all be one in Christ.
11. Faith, Hope, and Love – This is the greatest lesson of all that we have learned: love of God and love of each other. What does it mean to live a life from a whole heart in love and dedicated to God? How does that love then turn and love others?
These are the places where God has taken us over the last year. This journey has been like nothing we have ever experienced, and the journey for us has only begun. If you feel any of these topics would be a blessing to your congregation, please feel free to contact me as shown at the beginning of this letter. Thank you so much for your time. If there never is an opportunity to visit your congregation to personally convey our gratitude, please let this letter be our family’s thank you letter for all the love and prayers that you have offered up on our behalf this past year.
May God bless you and I hope to see you soon.
The Best Is Yet to Be.
Timothy M. Brown, Jr.
Tim, Tiffany, Colby, Caleb, & Connor Brown
3015 Baby Ruth Lane
Antioch, TN 37013