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Social Media Rallies Prayer for Young Boy


Social Media Rallies Prayer for Young Boy

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Athletic and bright, a contagious and fun-loving smile was never far from 7-year-old Dominic Liples’ face. He played in a basketball league at the Y, loved building Lego kits, and was especially eager to attend the Wednesday evening children/youth program at his church.

Dominic was a good kid. But for Dominic and his parents, Ken and Kira of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, — a family that already had more challenges than most — the “good” life was about to be put to an extreme test.

As Dominic was getting ready for school on Monday, March 7, his mom noticed that he seemed to be having trouble with his left arm. Had he slept on it awkwardly? Hurt it somehow? It would probably just work itself out. But when Dominic got home, the arm was worse. In fact, he was now limping and his smile was a bit crooked . . . they headed for the ER.

At first, doctors thought Dominic was suffering from Lyme’s Disease. But that wasn’t the case. A CT/CAT scan revealed a foreign mass in his head — a brain tumor. They were directed to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where two days later, doctors removed what little they could of the tumor without doing irreparable damage. They informed the family Dominic had anaplastic astrocytoma — a high grade and aggressive brain cancer that is rarely found in young children.

“This is a cancer that does not go away with treatment,” says Kira Liples, who spent the next 26 days in the hospital as Dominic recovered from the surgery. “The survival rate is not good.” Cancer.org lists the 5-year survival rate for children 19-and-under diagnosed with this type of cancer at about 30 percent.

Life for the Liples family suddenly went from well-organized chaos to survival mode as income plummeted, bills rose, and parental stress and responsibilities went off the charts.

The Lipleses are no strangers to challenges. For nearly six years they have cared for their younger son Ciarlo (CHAR-lo), who was born with a severe case of spina bifida and is paralyzed from the waist down. Their love for Ciarlo is unquestionable, but caring for his needs is time consuming and a serious health issue suddenly arising is never out of the question. Kira admits that in the last six years, she has basically become a full-time nurse, without the degree, but with many of the experiences.

The Liplesses knew that handling the lost income, the additional expenses and care Dominic would now require, meeting Ciarlo’s ongoing needs, the stress, and most importantly, the healing of Dominic, all had just one solution: prayer.

“Ken and Kira believe the only real answer, the only real cure for Dominic is a miracle from the Lord,” says Randy Eliason, senior pastor at Calvary Church (AG) in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, where Ken has served as the director of the church’s Son Shine Daycare and Preschool since 2000. “When Dominic was first taken to the hospital, my wife and I were there with them . . . . Dominic and the family is on our church’s prayer chain and people are praying for them on a continual basis.”

In order to keep a multitude of friends, family members, coworkers, and acquaintances informed on the family and Dominic’s progress, Kira and a friend created a Facebook page and website for people to find daily updates. “I couldn’t keep up with hundreds of text messages I was receiving,” says Kira, who also is president of the local spina bifida chapter. “And all I really wanted was for people to pray for Dominic.”

Kira would conclude her Facebook posts with #prayfordominic. The Doylestown community jumped on it. Without urging by the Liplesses, a prayer vigil attended by hundreds was held for Dominic in Doylestown while he was still in the hospital. Businesses started placing #prayfordominic posters in their windows — even the movie theater added “Pray for Dominic” to its marquee. The news media caught wind of Dominic’s situation, and started reporting on it. And people who had no relationship with Christ, suddenly found themselves appealing to Him on Dominic’s behalf.

“In the middle of all of this, our septic system had to get overhauled,” Ken says. “We have a friend who is a plumber that we’ve known for years. He has never shown any interest in anything to do with the Church, but he told me, ‘I’m praying for Dominic — no really, I am. I don’t remember the last time I prayed, but I’m praying for your son.’”

But that was just the start. As Dominic’s story spread, it was more than just neighbors, friends, and family praying for Dominic or contributing to their needs.

Dominic started to receive messages and visits from professional athletes and mascots, including members of all the Philadelphia professional sports franchises — NBA, NFL, MLB and MLS. He even received a letter from President Obama.

However, both Ken and Kira say that one professional athlete has made Dominic — as well as Ciarlo — a priority and really bonded with the boys. Philadelphia Union rookie defender Taylor Washington has made a special effort to support Dominic, while also including Ciarlo.

“Taylor was there when Dominic rang the bell signaling he had completed his 33 sessions of proton radiation,” Kira says. “He regularly sends Dominic and Ciarlo text messages and has invited them to games. And this past Sunday (July 24), he was there when Dominic was baptized at church.”

"They (Dominic and Ciarlo) have a zest for life that is so inspiring to me and everyone around them," Washington says. "I love sending and receiving videos and keeping up to date with Dominic in his daily life . . . I truly believe he will come out of this stronger and with so much resiliency, honoring the Lord in all that he does."

Although the Liplesses no longer attend Calvary Church (the 45-minute one-way commute with young children became too long), they are still considered part of the Calvary Church family as Ken’s job keeps them connected. And their new church home has also given them a whole new group of friends who are lifting them up in prayer.

Through Go Fund Me, Homers for Hope, surprise financial gifts from caring AG churches, and local benefits being held to help the Liples family, Ken and Kira have often been caught off guard by God’s provision and the way He has provided — even through those who may not serve Him.

Ken and Kira say multiple businesses have organized events benefiting Dominic and the family to help offset costs and the loss of Kira’s income. The couple worked at a local restaurant to help support the family, but since Dominic’s diagnosis, Kira has been unable to work.

Even though Dominic’s story is resulting in multitudes praying for him and the family, it doesn’t mean all the news on Dominic is good news or that the path has been made easy. There have been plenty of setbacks, and although Dominic is showing signs of improvement, those advances may only be very temporary, unless God intervenes. Doctors have recently expressed concerns that the cancer is even more aggressive than they originally thought.

“It’s a constant emotional roller coaster,” Ken admits. “Knowing God and experiencing His power . . . , but you still get scared to death, have down days, and wonder why . . . but I constantly look back at this huge network of support God has provided and set in place even before all of this happened . . . and that gives me hope.”

“There have been so many God moments — things that have happened that there is no other way to explain them other than God’s evidence of being there,” Kira says. However the strain of the situation, not knowing how long she’ll have either of her boys, coupled with her lack of sleep as both the boys are now prone to restless nights, has left Kira physically and emotionally spent. She needs God to intervene. “Prayer is all I ask for, because it’s the only thing that will help,” she says.

As for Dominic, he struggles with the left side of his body being weak, making it impossible — or at least much more difficult — for him to do many of the things he used to do with ease. But his relationship with Christ and understanding of the power of God has also deepened. Recently, he has been plagued by worries that have made it difficult for him to sleep. But now he says the best thing he likes about Jesus is that he can give Him his worries!

It’s hard to imagine a young boy making a true spiritual impact upon the lives of “mature adults.” But in Dominic’s case, a boy who is bravely facing death with a shaved head and a crooked smile on his face, people are listening, responding, praying.

When asked if he could tell everybody in the world one thing, what would that be, Dominic responded without hesitation.

“That I love Jesus!”

And for the Liples family, that’s what truly matters.

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