Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in the brain—that was the culprit behind the first in a succession of strokes suffered by then-fifth grader, Madeline Ray. An AVM is a tangled mass of blood vessels in the brain that spontaneously ruptures, causing the strokes. It’s a very rarely seen condition, occurring in less than 1 percent of the population. That first rupture caused Madeline to lose control of the left side of her body, which led to months of therapy.
In the face of a long road to recovery, the Make-a-Wish Foundation stepped in to offer Madeline and her family a bit of a reprieve by way of a vacation. The family made a plan, but further complications meant that Madeline needed increased care and could not travel. So the trip was cancelled. The progressing illness, however, had a profound impact on Madeline, not only physically, but spiritually—in a good way.
Looking back on this time in her life, in a letter to IMB President David Platt, Madeline wrote, “After my second stroke, God showed me my need for spiritual healing and not just physical healing. I was incapable of doing many things independently, like taking a bath, and I needed someone to do it for me. And through this, God made it clear to me that the same way I needed someone to physically bathe me, I also needed someone to spiritually bathe me. . . . God showed me that the only person capable of cleaning me spiritually was Jesus.”
Though Madeline’s ailment continues to plague her, she has developed a desire to share the glorious love of God in Christ among unreached peoples and places. And her inability to travel will not stop her. Instead of pursuing another vacation, Madeline wanted to see her “wish” make an eternal impact for the sake of the gospel.
“I just want to be a part of getting the gospel to those who have never heard it. I still desire to engage with the people myself, however, it must not have been God’s will for me to do so before the expiration of my wish on my twenty-first birthday. After much prayer and consideration of how best to strategically use this gift to glorify God . . . I determined a donation to the IMB for the unreached people groups would be an eternally effective way to use the wish. I hope to meet with you one day and serve the unreached with you.”
See more of Madeline’s story in the video above. You can also help to multiply her gift by giving to Madeline’s project to support the Jade Dragon people.
Samantha Conners is a writer for IMB. She serves in Europe with her family.