They’re finding positives amid tragedy

Oct. 29, 2013 @ 07:29 PM

A Manson couple that ministers at a start-up church in Henderson is facing the coming holiday season in the spirit of giving thanks and living in triumph despite the difficult birth and tragic loss of an infant son in February.

One year ago, doctors were telling Lee and Sonya Ingram their son would not make it to an expected birth. But little Nehemiah hung on through Christmas to a New Year’s Eve delivery.

Doctors said he would not be able to go home from Neo-Natal Intensive Care at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, but he did even if only for a few days that flashed by like a moment for the Ingram family.

To Lee and Sonya, their son’s tenacious battle to live every possible moment, and to survive long enough to be held and kissed, is a testimony for them to follow.

They asked a lot of questions why, and now they know why. Nehemiah was like the cupbearer of the Bible whose calling turned to something unexpected and unpredictable. Some might assume his life had no purpose at all, but the Ingrams say he fulfilled a great purpose.

“In the 35 days that Nehemiah was with us, he left a real residue of his strength with us,” Sonya said. “Whether crying loud and sparing not, we are to continue to do what we do.”

Lee said he learned from his littlest son new things about the meaning of true strength.

“He wanted to live so much, and we ran the race with him all the way,” he said. “He was a blessing to us. He sealed up the love between me and my wife. He showed us incredible strength.”

“We don’t understand all that happens when it happens,” Sonya said. “I cannot say it did not hurt. I cannot say that it was not heart wrenching. But you have to hold onto God even when you don’t know why.

“As time went on, God has shown me why,” she added. “He showed us such an expression of God, and we were blessed to be able to hold him and kiss him. Holding on to God, God can bring me through anything. He can bring you through anything, even things you never, ever thought you could go through.”

“It took a lot of strength for him to be born, to fight through everything he fought through so we could see him,” Lee said. “He taught me, he did. He taught me, don’t you ever give up. Don’t ever give up. I came through so you could see me and hold me.”

Nehemiah came into a relatively new family: Lee and Sonya married in 2011 after previous marriages from which he has six grown sons, and she has two children who live with them: Alexandra, 15, and Ruben-Elijah, 9.

Nehemiah’s loss was not the first for Sonya. While serving in the U.S. Navy at age 19, her first-born, her 13-months-old daughter Milechae was murdered by her then-fiancé, who received a life sentence plus 15 years for the crime.

The blows came amidst a growing call to ministry, in song from age 14 and through writing small booklets more recently, several of which have been printed for distribution through Tate Publishing of Oklahoma.

Lee said he was stricken to tears on hearing about Sonya’s loss of a child early in her life.

“When she would speak about it, it made me cry,” he said. “I thought, my God, and when I think about it now, it wrenches my nerves,” and he reached out to Sonya to add, “and you are a strong person, you are.”

Then came the prospect of enduring the loss of a second child out of four, and she added, “I didn’t know if I could do that again, but I did.”

Her booklet inspired by such loss is titled, “Get Out of the Grave and Cross the Bridge,” which is written, but still in the process of final editorial preparation for distribution.

Her booklet, “Don’t Live in the Soulish Realm” is available now, focused on the priority of people, especially leaders, strengthening their relationship with God with complete honesty and reverence.

Sonya said she approaches her call to write as a prophetic vision for her life.

“I have seen some highest bishops and other leaders mishandle God’s Word and scatter God’s sheep,” she said. “I know nobody’s perfect, but if you are a leader unwilling to walk in truth about your own issues, if you haven’t resisted your own sin enough, you can cause them to stumble.”

She added that when it comes to her books, she simply has to write what God lays on her heart.

To Lee and Sonya, these are lessons to be learned and shared: to spread the triumph, multiply the blessing and strengthen the call of deliverance.

“It is not through your own strength,” she said. “It comes through following God’s word. That’s where I get my strength. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but God can take a tragedy and make it into a triumph.”

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com