20 Years of Faith Over Fear | The Power of Christian Testimony

Welcome to another inspirational blog post from Simply Jesus Church in Yakima! I’d like to introduce you to a beacon of faith and strength, my daughter Elizabeth John Bhaskaran. Twenty years ago, we made the choice to give Elizabeth a chance at life against all odds. Today, we invite you to journey with us from pain to glory, as we explore Elizabeth’s testimony of faith and hope. Her story serves as a powerful testament that sometimes, it’s not about the diagnosis we receive, but the prognosis we choose to believe in.

The Story of Our Daughter, Elizabeth Bhaskaran

Two decades ago, I was faced with a heart-wrenching decision. My wife was pregnant, and around the 20-week mark, we received a devastating report. The ultrasound suggested something was grievously wrong with Elizabeth. As a medical doctor myself, I recognized the depth of our predicament when our physician delivered the news. His recommendation was to seek an abortion.

Choosing Faith Over Fear | Taking the Right Report

Yet, in this moment of profound despair, my wife and I chose faith over fear. We decided to challenge the doctor’s report and trust in God’s divine plan. Drawing strength from Isaiah 51, we chose to believe in the ultimate giver and taker of life, and we refused to play God.

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him. For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.”

Isaiah 51:1-3 (ESV)

Naming Elizabeth | “Consecrated to God”

No one else in our family is named Elizabeth, and she has often wondered why she was given such a unique name. The answer lies in an amazing tale involving her older brother, Michael.

Before Elizabeth’s gender was known, our younger son, Michael, unexpectedly asked my wife, “When will baby Elizabeth be born?” His innocent question caught my wife off-guard, but it also sparked a curiosity. She looked up the meaning of the name ‘Elizabeth’ and found that it meant “consecrated to God.”

Before any of us knew Elizabeth, God knew her! He knew her by name, He had a purpose for her, and He was saying she was consecrated to Him.

Elizabeth’s Health Challenges Growing Up

Elizabeth faced significant health challenges early in life. She had a portion of her intestines removed due to perforations when she was just a baby. At the age of 10, the scar tissue from that surgery resulted in a bowel obstruction.

Elizabeth woke up with severe abdominal pain, and while she had experienced this pain before, it had always subsided. This time, it didn’t. I recognized the severity of her symptoms and we immediately took her to the hospital.

When we arrived at Children’s Hospital in Seattle, we discovered that the doctor on-call that night was the same one who had performed Elizabeth’s first surgery a decade earlier. It was a miraculous situation that reminded us of the earlier faith and resilience in our journey with Elizabeth.

Worshipping God During Times of Trouble

Elizabeth’s pain was so intense at times that she was crying or screaming. There were many sleepless nights, and for a while we had no diagnosis. But what amazed me through this crisis was that in Elizabeth’s time of greatest need and helplessness, she was finding solace and strength in worshipping God.

Elizabeth’s experience at Children’s Hospital marks the beginning of her relationship with Christ. The teachings she had heard from us – that Christ is our healer, protector, and source of comfort – suddenly became a lived experience. She began to engage in prayer and seek God’s help in her darkest moments. Despite the severity of her situation, whenever she prayed, she always felt a peace that transcended understanding.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Elizabeth spent an entire month fed through an IV, unable to do anything or eat. She lost weight and muscle, becoming much smaller than any 10-year-old should be. Yet, even in this difficult period, she experienced an unexplainable peace. It was worship that helped her sleep at night and gave her the courage to keep moving forward.

When one of the nurses suggested meditation or yoga as a means of alleviating her pain, Elizabeth told her, “You know, I’d rather worship.”

I think while something like yoga might provide a little relief, worship connects us with the One who can heal us, comfort us, and transform our situation. Elizabeth’s journey through the pain and uncertainty has led her to have a profound connection with God, reinforcing her faith and resilience. It has given her a very powerful testimony.

The Power of Testimony | Elizabeth Speaks in Kenya

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Revelation 12:10-11 (ESV)

I was part of a missions trip to Kenya, designed for pre-med students like myself, aiming to combine our medical knowledge with our faith in Christ.

In a pediatric hospital, I met many Kenyan children, including a lonely boy named Edward. He was 10 years old and sitting alone in a corner; his leg was wrapped up in a white cast because he had clubfoot. Edward was very sad, which prompted me to approach him. Although initially reserved, he began to trust me as we interacted throughout the trip.

One day on the playground, Edward opened up about his past. His parents had died when he was seven, leaving him to face his grief alone. He believed all his friends at school had forgotten about him, and he questioned his purpose in life. His words were heartbreaking, especially when he asked, “What purpose does God have in my life? Why did God create me?” and expressed feeling worthless and useless.

To hear a child say, “No one cares about me. No one remembers me, I’m worthless, I’m useless. I have no purpose. It would just be better for me to die…” As a 10 year old, you’re supposed to be playing, you’re supposed to be enjoying your life. You shouldn’t be thinking about these things. It was heartbreaking, and I had no idea how to answer him, so I prayed, “Lord, what should I say?”

An opportunity arose for me to share my testimony with the children and families at the hospital. With Edward among the audience, I recounted my own struggles – the times when I couldn’t walk, think, sleep, or eat. I spoke about the darkness that had once enveloped me, so intense it made me want to give up on life. But I also shared how, in those moments, I found strength and purpose in God. It was this faith that pulled me through, a realization I reached through worship.

Sharing my story seemed to resonate with the children, many of whom were battling their own health issues. They found inspiration in my journey, and many expressed their desire to share their stories once they left the hospital.

Among the children who approached me after my speech was Edward, walking towards me with a smile on his face – something I hadn’t seen him do before. When I asked Edward how he was, he said, “I am good. Now I know why God created me.”

In that moment, God gave me a vision of Edward’s future: I saw him as a preacher, standing tall in a collared shirt, Bible in hand, spreading the word of God across Africa. I shared this vision with him, and he was overjoyed. He now understood, just like I did years ago, that God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.

God Has a Plan for Children

We believe that every unborn child has a divine purpose. Single mothers, young mothers, and mothers wrestling with the decision of whether to bring their child into the world may find themselves lost in fear and confusion. For many mothers-to-be, the uncertainty surrounding your unborn child’s future can be overwhelming.

God has consecrated every child. He has fearfully and wonderfully made every single child, and He has given that child to you; He has a plan and a purpose for your child. I would encourage every mother to have faith in Christ, in His plan and purpose, that He has given you that child. Who are you to play God?

Elizabeth and her testimony beautifully reminds us, each child is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God has ordained every child with a purpose even before they are born.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV)

I just want to encourage every mother. My wife and I walked through the same confusion and uncertainty. The doctors told us Elizabeth had only a 2% chance of living a healthy life. Doctors can give good diagnoses – they are often correct – but I want to tell you that their prognosis, their outlook, is often wrong because they don’t bring God into the equation.

Bring God into your situation, and see what He can do. 

Being a Christian at a Christian University

We homeschooled Elizabeth, and she later attended Yakima Valley College. Now, she’s studying pre-medicine at Baylor University, a Christian school in Texas. While you may think going to a Christian college would bolster your child’s faith, Elizabeth has discovered that many of her peers, despite identifying as Christians, seem to lack a deep, personal relationship with God, and they are constantly fighting a pandemic of pervasive anxiety.

Anxiety is a Pandemic that Only Intimacy with God Can Fight

As a pre-med student, Elizabeth often encounters peers overwhelmed by worries about exams, acceptance into medical school, and future careers. She’s noticed that many students tend to rely on their own understanding and the support of friends and family, rather than really leaning into their faith for guidance and strength. This realization has solidified her conviction that without a firm foundation in God, any other foundation is shakable.

In their quest for peace and fulfillment, many students turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs and alcohol. She believes these are misguided attempts to find what is only truly available in God – peace, love, and purpose.

In her quest to walk in the purpose of God, Elizabeth emphasizes the importance of intimacy with her Creator. She believes this intimacy is key to living out one’s faith authentically. She’s found solace and strength through a profound shift in her prayer life; instead of just listing her anxieties to God, she converses with Him and acknowledges His control over all aspects of her life.

Using Scripture to Fight Anxiety

Elizabeth also has used Scripture to fight anxiety. Drawing inspiration from Philippians 4, she has developed a nightly routine that helps her overcome worry and fear. Instead of simply listing her anxieties to God, she also turns to prayer, thanksgiving, and worship.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)

And more than that, Elizabeth makes a conscious effort to focus on the positive elements in life – things that are good, kind, loving, and pure. By naming and thanking God for each of these aspects, she finds her anxiety melting away, replaced by a peace that surpasses understanding.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV)

I think so often, we pray and leave it at, “Okay, God, just take care of it.” But then we fail to discipline our mind and to think about these things! Our relationship with God becomes so powerful when we have a more active prayer life

Helping Other Christian Students with Anxiety

Something that amazes me and brings me such joy is that Elizabeth is using her testimony and prayers outside of Yakima to help other students at Baylor break free from anxiety:

Elizabeth recalled helping deliver her friend who was in the middle of a panic attack. Her friend had been rejected and was visibly upset, her distress manifesting demonically. Despite her own uncertainty, Elizabeth felt compelled to pray. She laid hands on her friend, recited scriptures, and commanded the spirit of anxiety to leave. After half an hour of prayer, her friend was delivered from her emotional turmoil, her tears of distress replaced with tears of joy.

Another time, Elizabeth comforted a friend who was fighting the anxiety of returning home. They attended a college service together, and Elizabeth prayed and spoke into her friend’s life saying, “God is working through you. God has a beautiful plan and purpose for your life. And God is leading you through this. You are God’s light.” The fear that had previously consumed her friend’s thoughts – the fear of going home, of medical school applications, of choosing the right degree – all faded away. She could recall the many blessings in her life and trust in God’s guidance.

It’s important to realize that once a spirit – like anxiety – becomes a part of your identity, it can be difficult to get rid of. A doctor can tell you that you have anxiety, but only God can tell you your identity. Like I said earlier: believe in the report of God, not in the report of men.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

Thank you for being here today! I want to thank my daughter Elizabeth for being with us. I’m so happy that God is using her on the college campus, helping one person at a time and setting them free from anxiety.

The first time I ever heard Elizabeth’s testimony was when I saw the video of it that she had shared in Kenya. It just moved me. At first, I didn’t want to watch it because of the memories of that painful time, but when I saw others receiving her testimony, I realized, “God, you had a purpose for that time.”

I want these kinds of powerful stories to spread through Yakima, and reach all over the world. Remember, there is hope in any situation. God bless you!

Posted in