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Job — The kid has faith

By Jennifer McClure

Job, their happy, energetic, 4-year-old, brown-haired and brown-eyed son had a highly deadly form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His chance of survival was only 10 percent without a bone marrow transplant.

nexpectedly, the heart monitor fell from a steady beep to a frightening monotone signal. Nurses and doctors flooded into the room, surrounding the 9-year-old boy’s hospital bed, and began CPR. But with each compression, the boy’s body gave way and lay deathly still.

As she often did, Glenda Osborne had stayed with grandson Job McCully that day — Oct. 24, 2007 — in his St. Louis Children’s Hospital room. Job’s father, Rob McCully, was nearby as well. But his mom, Tina McCully, and sister, Nicole, were back home, 360 miles away, in Bigelow, Ark.

In the forested hills of central Arkansas about 16 miles southwest of Conway off a winding road lies the rural town of Bigelow (pop. 329). The first structure to greet visitors is a church — Bigelow Assembly of God.

The white building represents for the McCully family not only a church family but also a Kingdom that God uses to show His love and care for His children.

“I’ve experienced a level of God’s love through other people that I would have never experienced had I not gone through this,” Rob says.

From messages left on Job’s CaringBridge Web site to fundraisers at Bigelow AG and West County Assembly of God in St. Louis, the family says God has used others to express His love to them throughout their journey.

The road that would lead the McCully family to these experiences and friendships began, to some extent, the summer of 2002.

Nicole was 7, and Job was 4. Rob had recently resigned the pastorate of a nearby country church, and the family joined Bigelow Assembly of God. On most accounts life was fairly normal, until an unimaginable diagnosis.

Job, their happy, energetic, 4-year-old, brown-haired and brown-eyed son had a highly deadly form of ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia). His chance of survival was only 10 percent without a bone marrow transplant.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments prepared Job’s body for the needed transplant but also greatly weakened his immune system. At age 5, Job developed bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare lung disease that causes inflammatory obstruction of the lungs’ tiniest airways.

For several years, medication helped manage the disease, but by age 8, Job’s lungs were only functioning at 40-50 percent. Job was sent to Texas in August 2006 and again in February 2007 to be evaluated for a lung transplant. Both times he was considered too healthy to be added to the transplant list.

Just two weeks after his second evaluation, Job contracted a fungal pneumonia and went into respiratory failure. Now Job was too sick for a lung transplant.

“I’ll never forget how frustrating that was,” Tina recalls. “All I can say is God just held our hand and helped us through.”

Doctors transferred Job to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where he spent two months on a ventilator.

Then in the midst of the crisis, with mounting medical bills, Rob, who had not yet completed his first 90 days at a construction company, was asked to resign because he did not yet qualify for any leave. In order for Tina to help care for Job, she took a leave of absence from her job as a senior financial analyst at a local telephone company.

Despite the unexpected twists in their story, the family continued to experience God’s faithfulness.

“We went from two incomes to zero income, and we didn’t get behind on anything,” Tina says. “It was amazing and wonderful how God took care of us.”

When the family left for Texas, Florence Rappold and Taneau Lipsmeyer, friends of the McCullys and members of Bigelow AG, decided to find some way to help.

“We knew the financial problems they were having, so we started having meals — mainly spaghetti and steak dinners — and fundraisers at the church,” Taneau says. “Each time we raised exactly what they needed.”

After two months in Texas, Job was transferred to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. By May, he had regained enough strength to be added to the lung transplant waiting list.

Through it all, the McCully family clung to their faith in God.

“If God says He’s going to bring somebody through, it doesn’t matter how bad things look,” Glenda says. “He wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true.”

Job’s name, in fact, has affirmed their faith.

“God put it on our hearts to name him Job,” Tina says. “We were focused on the fact that Job was a godly man and we wanted our son to be godly, but when all of this started happening, I held onto that name as hope. It told me God knew what was coming down the road even though we didn’t.”

The separation

After spending the summer of 2007 in St. Louis, the time came for Nicole, who was 12 at the time, to return to Bigelow for the school year. Tina and Glenda remained with Job while Rob returned to Arkansas with Nicole.

In September, Job’s health rapidly declined. At one point, doctors gave little hope that he would survive the weekend and asked Tina to sign a DNR (do not resuscitate) form. They knew if Job went into cardiac arrest, he would be removed from the lung transplant waiting list.

But Tina refused to sign.

“We did not know what the outcome was going to be,” she says, “but we decided we were going to hold on to God no matter what happened — we were going to keep on fighting.”

Job outlived the prognosis, and things were looking up. So Oct. 22, Rob flew to St. Louis to spend time with Job, and Tina flew home to be with Nicole. On Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007, Glenda called Tina from St. Louis. The doctors were encouraging family members to say their goodbyes.

Just three days earlier on Sunday, Tina read an account of Jesus raising a little girl from the dead and wrote in her journal: “God has supremacy over the grave.” Later that morning, the sermon at West County Assembly of God (where the family attended when in St. Louis) was on the same passage of Scripture.

“God knows what’s coming down the road,” Tina says, “and if you let Him, He’ll prepare you for these things.”

Now separated by 360 miles, Tina did the only thing in her power to do for her son — pray.

Friends Florence and Taneau met her at the church to join her in prayer that afternoon, and the Wednesday evening service was designated a special prayer time for Job.

Florence brought her laptop so they could stay in touch with Glenda in Job’s hospital room via an online instant messenger.

At 8:39 p.m., the message came: Job’s heart had stopped.

“We were just sitting there talking after we had been praying, and then Job coded,” Taneau says. “I was falling apart. But Tina was sitting on the floor cross-legged, flipping through her Bible reading promises God had given her.”

At 8:47 p.m., Glenda heard one nurse ask, “What’s the time of death?” soon followed by another nurse saying, “I have a pulse.”

Since Job’s cardiac arrest was an immediate reaction to a drug pushed into his IV line, he was not removed from the transplant list.

On Dec. 11, 2007, Job received his new lungs.

During his hospital stay, Job’s anthem at the darkest times was “Here I Am to Worship” written by Tim Hughes. It gave him hope by reminding him that God had a purpose and a plan for his life.

“When it says, ‘I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon the Cross,’ I would always think it wasn’t what I’d done but it was what He had planned,” Job says.

The sendoff

When it came time for Job and his family to return to Arkansas in March, West County AG prepared a special goodbye gift.

Youth pastor Todd Harris was among those from the church who would regularly visit Job. On several occasions Todd brought his son Drew to the hospital to play video games with Job.

With her husband and son getting to know the McCully family, Sherri Harris found herself reading every page of Job’s CaringBridge Web site. In the end, she determined to organize a benefit for the family.

Making use of drama and music performances youth members had prepared for the district Fine Arts Festival, the benefit raised more than $18,000 for the McCully family.

The road ahead

The night Job received his new lungs he went into cardiac arrest and was revived a second time. Since then he’s begun the slow road to recovery.

For a time, Job is confined to a wheelchair. But in the next year, Job has one objective: “To walk independently.”

Spending a year in bed and taking anti-inflammatory steroids have caused Job to lose much of his muscle tone while inhibiting muscle development. Other side effects of treatments have included the development of diabetes as well as cataracts, which have been removed from both eyes.

Financially, Rob had worked part-time at Ruby Tuesday in St. Louis to cover lodging costs. When they returned to Arkansas in March, he began working full time at Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation in Little Rock.

Due to Job’s needs, Tina has not been able to return to full-time employment but is currently exploring part-time job opportunities, including substitute teaching and ministering in churches.

Considering everything Job has experienced, Rob couldn’t be more proud.

“Job’s the strongest individual I know,” Rob says. “I’m very, very proud of Job, and I know his strength comes from God.”

Though both Job McCully and his biblical namesake experienced great adversity, Alan Shelton, pastor of Bigelow AG, says the two Jobs share something greater.

“He’s a young boy who really has a heart for God,” he says. “I think a lot of people after they know Job a little bit come away saying, ‘If anything like that were to ever happen to me, I hope and pray my attitude would be like his.’ ”

At age 10, Job has fought numerous battles for his life. But ask this little boy about God, and you’ll see there’s not just a fighter inside, but also a little boy very much in awe of his God.

“God is amazing, and He is good,” Job says, shifting his gaze away from his video game. “He has brought me through my whole life and has brought me back to life twice.”

JENNIFER McCLURE is assistant editor of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Going Up? (

TPExtra: A virtual tour of the McCullys' home

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