In March of 2015, Bethany and Satchel Stillwell, new parents to twins Lucy and Landon, were on their way to the hospital ... again. A few weeks earlier, their son, Landon, had been born pale and lifeless. They couldn’t even find a heartbeat. Doctors miraculously revived him, but the complications surrounding his birth posed the potential for long-term brain damage, and he remained in the NICU fighting for his life. Bethany and Satchel made the long drive to the hospital in Dallas every day to see him, and on one particular morning, Bethany received a phone call. It was Marie Brown, associate pastor with Gateway Care at the NRH Campus, and she had called Bethany to check in. “She prayed with me and told me the Lord loved to heal babies,” Bethany says. Her call made a big difference.
What happened behind the scenes before that phone call is something Gateway has been doing for nearly six years. Because having a baby is one of the most life-changing things to happen to a couple, Gateway wanted to make sure families received all the support possible. That’s when the Baby Registry ministry was born, and since then, hundreds of families have received personalized prayer, encouragement, gifts, and dedicated attention as they face the challenges that come with bringing a child into the world.
“We love babies, and we love to celebrate with people,” says Rebecca Freed, coordinator with Gateway Care at the Southlake Campus. “But we also want to connect growing families to helpful resources and support.” Sometimes that includes pointing families toward other ministries at Gateway that are designed to meet other needs they might have, including opportunities to be mentored by experienced parents.
Here’s how it works: whenever you receive the exciting news that you are pregnant or adopting, sign up with the Baby Registry. Then look for some fun and helpful gifts in the mail! The Baby Registry, which is mostly run by Gateway volunteers, sends resources including books, such as Sacred Parenting; a sweet lullaby CD; and Pastor Tom Lane’s The Influence of a Father teaching on DVD. These resources are great for first-time parents as well as existing parents. We also check in periodically to see how things are going, especially during the third trimester.
When your baby is born or the adoption is complete, we celebrate! We send a small gift and offer additional prayer and support throughout the baby’s first year. But if things don’t go as planned, like with the Stillwell family, that’s when the Baby Registry and Gateway Care ministries rally and rise to the occasion.
If at any point in this timeline there’s a challenge or problem, we notify the Gateway Care team for someone to reach out immediately. “If there’s a complication or extended hospital stay, we send encouraging gifts and a pastor to visit, and we pray. If there’s a miscarriage or a death, we minister to you and can arrange grief counseling and memorial services,” Rebecca says. “We walk with you through that whole process, however long it takes.” That’s where the Stillwells found themselves after the team learned about Landon’s condition, and the prayers and resources given to this family went a long way.
Both Lucy and Landon are now a year and a half old and perfectly healthy. “The doctor told me recently that at Landon’s next neurology appointment we’ll have to talk about the weather because there is nothing wrong with my boy,” Bethany says. Landon is hitting all the milestones for children his age and until he can tell his own miraculous story, Bethany and Satchel do it for him, always pointing to Christ. But Bethany will never forget that phone call from Pastor Marie and the world of difference it made in the midst of her darkest days. “The Baby Registry was a blessing for us not just because of what they gifted us with but because it opened the door to us receiving prayer, support, and just sweet love from our church,” Bethany says. “It truly let me know how much they cared about me and my babies.”
For more information, to sign up for the Baby Registry, or to volunteer with Gateway Care, visit care.gatewaypeople.com.