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Schoenborn quadruplets

God's blessing — times four

By Randy Hurst

Sitting in their living room in Wilsonville, Ore., Scott and Beth Schoenborn are happy and relaxed as they talk about their missionary work in Japan and their five healthy children. Their faces display unusual calm for a couple that recently (February 16) became parents of quadruplets — two boys and two girls.

As they talk, Ellen Schoenborn, Scott’s mother, washes baby bottles at the kitchen sink. The kitchen counter resembles an assembly line with rows of clean bottles ready for the next feedings.

Kelly Schoenborn, who is 4, checks on her siblings.

The Schoenborns were thrilled when they learned Beth was pregnant a second time. Shortly before their return to Japan from a brief furlough in Oregon, a physician detected multiple heartbeats and predicted twins. But at St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo, a gynecologist gave the Schoenborns the news: Beth was carrying quadruplets.

"I was in shock," Beth says. "I thought I could deal with twins. When I heard the doctor say, ‘Four babies,’ I wondered what this would mean for our family."

Beverly Kelly, Beth’s mother, was more excited than surprised. A triplet herself, she knew the likelihood of multiple births was greater than normal for her daughter. "I thought, Oh, wonderful! Beth is carrying on the tradition," she says.

For Ellen Schoenborn, the news had a poignant effect. "Scott called me on September 10, the date of my wedding anniversary," she recalls. "My husband, Roger, died last May and I was thinking about him. Scott talked for a bit, then said, ‘Mom, we’re coming home to Oregon for a medical furlough.’ When I heard the word quadruplets, my jaw dropped."

Scott and Beth grew up in the same community in Oregon and were high school sweethearts. Today both grandmothers live nearby and help with the babies: Kent, Kyle, Kristin and Katie.

"Our house is not chaotic," Beth says. "We maintain some order. If we didn’t, we’d be in trouble. As a mother, the challenge is realizing I can’t do everything by myself right now."

She needn’t worry. Scott is a hands-on father who lovingly looks into each little face — obviously sensitive to their individuality. "Telling them apart is easy," Scott jokes. "We have a big boy and a little boy, a big girl and a little girl. But they are also different in personality."

Their daughter Kelly, who is 4, excitedly skips over to the cribs where the four babies lie sleeping. They look healthy — larger than what I expected.

"What did they weigh?" I ask.

Scott smiles and says, "Beth gave birth to almost 18 pounds of babies in three minutes."

"I come from good stock," Beth responds with a laugh. Usually quadruplets average about 3 pounds. The Schoenborns’ babies averaged 4.5 pounds, despite being born seven and a half weeks early. Doctors were amazed at their healthy size and continue to marvel at their development.

Scott, Beth, Ellen and Beverly feed the babies in shifts. Scott takes the night feedings, and already has a special sensitivity to each. One by one he describes each child. "Kristin, the smallest one at birth, weighed 3 pounds, 8 ounces," he says. "She is spunky and feisty. We call her Champ. Kent is our communicator because he lets you know his needs. Katie is our cuddle queen. She likes to coo and be held. Kyle, our slugger, was the largest of the quads at birth, weighing 5 pounds, 10 ounces. He is very relaxed and easygoing."

The Schoenborns are quick to express their appreciation for the prayer support from believers throughout Beth’s pregnancy. "When we learned of the quads, we e-mailed our supporters and asked for prayer," Scott says. "Suddenly our request was forwarded everywhere. Even in the hospital, at least three people came to us and said, ‘We heard about you and have been praying for you.’ These babies were prayed over the entire time."

The expanded household has not diminished the Schoenborns’ determination to continue their missionary work in Japan, which has been their field of ministry since January 1995.

Trying to imagine the family on the streets of Tokyo, I ask if they’ve found a stroller for four. Scott replies that, though such a stroller is manufactured, they are getting two strollers for two "so they’ll be less conspicuous."

Not much chance of that, I think to myself.

Kristin and Katie, Kent and Kyle are testimonies of God’s gift of life. But along with Scott and Beth’s joy of these four blessings, their hearts are burdened for multitudes of Japanese who need to hear the gospel and receive the free gift of eternal life.

"Some people have told us that our calling is finished," Scott says. "With five children — especially since four are infants — they assume we’ll have to stay in the United States. But we know God’s calling is still upon our lives. We have put our hands to the plow, and we aren’t looking back."

The Schoenborns see ways God can use all five children to open doors of ministry. "Kelly was born in Japan, and we noticed the increased opportunities we had to witness because of her," Scott says. "The Japanese know how hard it is to live there. They are curious why we are willing to stay there and raise a family. When they see quadruplets, which are virtually unheard of in Japan, we know they will be even more intrigued. We’ll have many more opportunities to share our faith."

As the Schoenborns juggle four infants, a preschooler and plans to return to Japan, they don’t worry about the what-ifs. They are certain of their calling and that their children — all five of them — are gifts from God and part of His plan for their lives. Their responsibility is to be obedient. They are leaving the rest in His hands.

Randy Hurst is commissioner of evangelism for the Assemblies of God.

The birth of the quadruplets has brought added financial challenges for the Schoenborn family, including additional airfares and other special expenses. (Assemblies of God Foreign Missions doesn’t build into a missionary’s budget a provision for quadruplets.) Contributions for the Schoenborns can be called in at 1-877-840-5100 or mailed to Assemblies of God Foreign Missions, 1445 North Boonville Avenue, Springfield, MO 65802, designated for "Quadruplets," Account # 891167 (88).

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