Depending on God: A Story of Grace in the Lives of Kevin, Lusi, and Carissa Chien

Chien Family Photo Edit

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” - Psalm 27:13-14

For GBF members Kevin and Lusi Chien, the year of 2015 was one marked by uncertainty, heartache, and intense spiritual testing. It was also a year in which they experienced more of God’s grace and a restored hope in His sovereignty than they ever anticipated. In spite of the unimaginable circumstances in which they found themselves, there were a few truths that they were determined to cling to: that God is sovereign and good, that He did not make a mistake, and that they needed to think on what is good and right and not worry about the trials of tomorrow.

Shortly after their daughter, Carissa, celebrated her first birthday, Kevin and Lusi took her to the doctor for her one-year checkup. They were quickly taken aback when blood tests revealed that there was something potentially very wrong with her kidneys. The blood tests indicated that Carissa had abnormally high levels of creatinine, which is an indicator of kidney function. The normal range of creatinine is around 0.2-0.4; Carissa’s tests indicated that her levels were at .73. In other words, at the age of one, Carissa’s kidneys were functioning at 40%.

“This news was an absolute shock to us,” says Kevin. “Not only is it a very rare condition, but neither one of us had any sort of family history of kidney problems. Although we were overwhelmed with emotion, we decided that we needed to get a second opinion from a specialist.”

Kevin and Lusi then took Carissa to a pediatric nephrologist, where a number of tests were run with discouraging results: the exact problem could not be identified, and Carissa was deemed likely untreatable. The specialists concluded that it may be a genetic problem, meaning that her kidneys would eventually fail in roughly eight to ten years. But in the wake of this news, Kevin and Lusi say that they developed a different type of love—a hopeful love—for their daughter. “Psalm 27:13-14 was a real encouragement to me during those times,” says Kevin. “I would have despaired had I not turned to that psalm.”

Eventually, the Chiens felt it was important to share the hard news with their close family and friends, particularly their parents. For them, it was one of the most difficult things that they had to do during the entire process, but they also viewed it as an opportunity to witness to Lusi’s unsaved parents. This reality was confirmed when Lusi’s parents exclaimed that, should their granddaughter be healed, they would commit their lives to Christ.

“Through all of this, I experienced an overwhelming peace, as if my family was caught in the eye of a hurricane,” says Kevin. “I knew that this was God’s promise at the time; that His amazing peace in Christ was a miracle in itself.”

However, this peace was tested when further tests revealed a rapid decline in Carissa’s kidney function. This time, their specialist gave her eight to ten months until total kidney failure. According to Kevin and Lusi, this specialist “had never seen anything like it.” Because of their daughter’s rapid decline, the Chiens decided that they needed to get a biopsy performed on Carissa. After being shut down by several specialists, they found one doctor, Paul Grimm, who agreed to perform a biopsy. After one last blood test that was performed the Tuesday after Labor Day, Carissa’s levels were at .40—her creatinine had fallen dramatically and was now normal.

“Her doctors had no explanation for this,” Kevin says. “But we know that God is sovereign. He chose to heal our daughter.”

After two more tests that confirmed the miraculous news, Kevin and Lusi experienced an indescribable joy in their Creator as well as a desire to share their story with anyone who would listen. And they have already seen God’s handiwork: both Lusi’s parents and a visiting scholar from China who heard Carissa’s story have committed their lives to Christ.

“In all of this, we have learned that the path towards God is dependence and the path away from God is independence,” says Kevin. “We are thankful to God regardless of what happens, and we are thankful for peace and for God working in the lives of others.”