Kay and Steve Prins love watching Derek Morris’ Hope Sabbath School on Friday nights. Several months ago, as Derek was ending one of the classes he asked, “Is there anybody out there who finds special meaning in God’s promises?”
“I couldn’t help it,” Kay says, remembering how she felt the Holy Spirit compel her to share the promise in Psalm 61:1–4. “Derek wanted to know why. I said I was just sharing the gift of that promise.”
But with urging, Kay decided to share the story behind the promise.
The Prins’ son Philip was an Iraq veteran. With Kay growing up as a missionary kid in Japan, Steve coming from South Africa, and the family of three having lived in Taiwan for six years, traveling was in Philip’s blood.
That was one reason why he joined the Army. Philip also hoped to earn an education. But when 9-11 happened, things changed. Philip served in Iraq for 13 months and upon returning to the United States, a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder, he searched for a life path.
He decided to study journalism at a small community college in southern California. He was a natural with the camera. Right away the school handed him a camera and said, “You’ll be working with the newspaper. We’d like you to be our photographer.”
Philip had never handled a professional camera before. But he quickly discovered that he really enjoyed photography. It was a way of looking at the world— and it was cathartic for him.
At the end of his education, Philip learned of a photography workshop at a university in the Philippines. “Once he got there, and got involved, I knew he was going to stay,” says Kay. “We supported him 100 percent. We were happy and excited to see him happy working in the Philippines.” Philip found a niche—after the workshop he stayed on to volunteer at the university. He helped resurrect the school’s dead newspaper and taught photography and other classes. Philip was there two and a half years.
He was taking a walk in the early morning hours the day after Christmas 2015 when he was attacked by four men. They knocked him to the ground. Then they focused their blows on his head.
He was unconscious when they were finished. It is not clear, even today, what the motivation was—his wallet wasn’t touched.
“We received the call from the small university hospital where he was taken,” remembers Kay. “An emergency room nurse called and wanted to know if they could operate. She said they were calling in a neurosurgeon. I’m a nurse and knew immediately that we were in big trouble.”
Kay immediately flew to the Philippines. After a stop at the police station, she went to the hospital, a compact, cement-walled structure. While the staff was well-trained and the surgeon was trained in the United States, the hospital had its limitations.
Kay recollects, “I saw Philip for the first time. He was unconscious and on a respirator. And I knew. The doctor told me, ‘subarachnoid hemorrhage—there is no hope for recovery. It is finished.’ And I knew it would be soon.”
Exhausted, Kay got on her knees and prayed: “Philip is in such a wonderful place in his life. I don’t know what his future holds. You do. You know what happened here and why. I just don’t know. I want him alive and whole. Philip won’t be happy unless he’s whole.”
As Kay prayed she was more and more confused. She wasn’t sure what to pray for, and how to pray.
Then the Holy Spirit spoke to her: “Let God make the choice.”
In an instant she prayed: “Lord, You make the choice. You know everything about Philip. You love him far more than I ever could.” Once that prayer was offered, Kay had total and complete peace—and she has had that same peace ever since.
“That peace has never gone. It’s still with me” says Kay. “Philip died on his thirty-fifth birthday. His family and friends love him and miss him so much. But I trusted God to make the choice that was right for Philip.”
“So many people read the Bible, and [for them] it’s a bunch of theories, a bunch of stories, and a bunch of promises—but those promises God gave for a reason. He gave them from a heart of love; and He gave them for us to claim for ourselves. To lift them up to Him and say ‘This is what You’ve promised.’”
It’s almost a year since Philip’s death. And through her arduous journey God’s promises have not only given Kay the endurance to face tragedy, but they have also enabled her to forgive and pray for those responsible for her son’s death. One of the men was only 17 years old at the time. She says, “I pray for Philip’s attackers. My concern is that they have a chance—that God would see to it that they have a chance to know Him. And if that turns out to be the case, if they become acquainted with Him and learn to love Him, and give their hearts to Him, I could meet these men in heaven. And that would mean everything to me.”
Kay’s message to Hope Channel viewers:
“When we are in crisis, whether it is an illness or an injury, and our heart’s desire is for things to get better and become whole again, our prayers are often directed that way—and sometimes God says ‘no.’ His choice for us is different from the one we want. And trusting His judgment becomes a challenge. That is not the easiest thing to do, but it is the most positive and comforting and greatest source of peace.”