Prayers for Peter

Published 10:45 am Friday, November 23, 2012

Eleven-year-old Peter Samuel had a brain aneurysm Nov. 2 and is paralyzed on one side of his body. Photo provided

Ellis student had brain aneurysm

The past three weeks for Peter Samuel and his family have been a trying time. Yet in the midst of their crisis, they have been welcomed with open arms — welcomed by an organization that may be able to help them more than anyone else.

Mathiang Akoi talks about his 11-year-old son who suffered a brain aneurysm and the benefit being held by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and Grace Lutheran Church to help defer costs.

Peter, an 11-year-old student at Ellis Middle School, suffered a brain aneurysm on Nov. 2 and has been paralyzed on one side of his body.

“He just complained of a headache and started to throw up,” Peter’s father, Mathiang Akoi said about the day Peter fell ill, and added Peter soon was unable to stand.

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Now, Peter is in the hospital in Rochester. He has started to slightly move his paralyzed leg, and doctors hope because of his youth he will be able to fully recover.

“It’s so sad because this boy was brave,” Akoi said. “He was setting his future … doing very good academically.”

But others are sympathizing with Peter and can’t understand how an 11-year-old boy suffered such an unfortunate event. They are members at Grace Lutheran Church in Austin, where Akoi, Peter and his family attend.

“Any time I hear of a child that’s going through any type of pain, it strains my heart,” said Grace member Kathy Wichmann.

So Wichmann, who has the resources to help, decided to do something. The Thrivent Financial for Lutherans employee drew monetary support from Thrivent for Peter and his family.

“This is why we exist, to help families and communities,” Wichmann said. “And this community is in need, so we need to be there to help them and support them.”

A benefit will also be held for Peter at Grace Lutheran Church on Dec. 16, but there is more. An entire Sudanese community has formed a new congregation at Grace Lutheran Church and will officially start its own congregation on Dec. 16, too. Akoi will be one of its leaders. Simply put, people are coming together.

“We want the Sudanese and everyone else over here at the same time because we see them all as brothers and sisters of Christ,” said Pastor Jeff Forbes.

Akoi sees the generosity from Grace Church and agrees about coming together.

“I think that’s part of being a brother and sister in Christ,” Akoi said.

Akoi has kept in contact with Forbes and given him updates about Peter’s condition. Akoi said he has spent about $1,200 alone in fuel, traveling to and from Rochester. His time has been stretched thin between working, traveling and worrying about the rest of his family.

Church members are saddened that such a young boy could experience these hardships. Forbes said their hearts go out to the struggling, young student and athlete. Akoi’s family has shed tears. Peter loves basketball and worries that he may not be able to play again if he doesn’t recover.

“He’s just a young, 11-year-old boy who likes to play basketball,” Forbes said. “That’s what he’s really sad about.”

While those concerned about Peter wait for doctors to do their thing, they also bank on prayer.

“We believe it will help because, sometimes, God can help you,” Akoi said. “We’re going to keep in touch with God.”

Forbes said his congregation has been praying for Peter every week. The Dec. 16 benefit is even called “Prayers for Peter.”

More than anything, they hope Peter can recover as quickly as possible and perhaps attend the benefit. Wichmann wants Peter, his family and many to see how close the community can become.

“I’m hoping that the community will just come together and show the Sudanese people that we are a loving and thriving and welcoming community, and that we are here to support each other,” Wichmann said.