On this week’s Framework Leadership podcast, I had the opportunity to sit down with pastor Chad Veach. Chad is the founding pastor of one of the nation’s fastest-growing churches, Zoe Church in Los Angeles.
A few years ago Chad released a book entitled "Unreasonable Hope," which tells the story of his daughter Georgia, who has been diagnosed with a rare, gene-linked brain malformation called lissencephaly. The disorder is characterized by the absence of folds in the brain, also known as "smooth brain,” and only 50 percent of children with her condition live to ten years old.
A situation like that can be a parent’s worst nightmare. But Chad and his wife Julia have chosen to focus on hope even in the darkest times. I asked Chad how Georgia is doing and what he's learned through this circumstance. Here is some of what he had to say.
Chad: First, let me say what a blessing it is to have a special needs child. Nothing has changed us more than that. You grow in compassion. You grow in concern for others. So it's changed us even though you wouldn't wish it on your worst enemy. We know the good that it's done to us.
That's the thing about problems, circumstances, or situations. They can improve us if we choose to let them. You can get bitter, or you can get better. And we've tried our best and have failed in seasons. We tried our best to get better from this, and now Georgia is doing the best that she's ever done. She's in school through L.A. Unified School District. They pick her up at our house every morning at 7:15 a.m. They drop her back off at 3:30 in the afternoon. They're changing her life. She's never been more alert, happier more, more involved. It's unbelievable.
The other night Georgia and I met this guy who had read “Unreasonable Hope.” He's sitting there, and he goes, “This is not the girl you wrote about in that book. Look at this girl. She's so alert. She's so alive.” I forgot when we moved down here (to Los Angeles) that she was lifeless. For weeks on end, there would be no response. And now she is kicking and cooing and smiling. It's unbelievable. I have to believe that God is also healing her.
Kent: How do you keep that discipline of hope because it can be so easy to feel like this is just never going to get better?
Chad: That was a great word to use, discipline. And you can feel it when you're not disciplined because you can just act, receive the results and just accept them. And I think what has allowed me to keep hope is my confession -- the confession of faith. The decision to say I'm going to actually declare God's Word…. His character… His heart. And I state my faith, so to speak. That's when my hope rises as I start to remind myself who God is. That's what God can do.
Any time that I lose sight of that, I start to say, “Georgia will probably live these many years,” and I'll start to just accept the status quo. But in order to keep hope up, I have to stir that up to remind myself she can be healed and she's going to walk.
Last night I went into her bedroom, and she's talking so much. I went to say, “I love you Georgia.” And in my mind I expected her to say, "I love you too, dad." I literally was like; she’s going to say it tonight. And I have to get myself going that way. I think we have to get our hopes up. What gets my hopes up is the authority of God's Word, the promises of God. It's not a feeling or emotion or worship song. It's just knowing this is what the Bible says.
I encourage you to listen to my full interview with Chad. I’m sure it’ll uplift and motivate you as it did me .
TO LISTEN TO KENT'S FULL INTERVIEW WITH CHAD VEACH, LISTEN BELOW OR GO TO APPLE PODCASTS.