Chris & Sarah Kamienski
If you’ve started to come to Access but have hesitated to join a Community Group, perhaps Chris and Sarah Kamienski can convince you.
Chris and Sarah were married in 2003 and moved to Jacksonville in 2005. They quickly connected with a small group in Jacksonville, but they struggled to plug into a church. After two-and-a-half years, several couples in their small group became involved in other things. The couples remained friends, but most weren’t committed to the group anymore. Chris and Sarah decided it was time to seriously start looking for a church.
A friend of Sarah’s saw an article in the newspaper about Access Church and saw that Andy Stanley is our primary teaching pastor. Sarah had been listening to podcasts of Andy and enjoyed his teaching. Chris was also familiar with Andy, and they decided to give Access a try.
Access had been meeting for about six months when Chris and Sarah first attended in October 2007. “We already knew we liked Andy’s speaking, but we really wanted to learn what Access was all about,” Chris said.
That Sunday, Lead Pastor Rich Barrett was speaking, and laid out the future for Access Church. “It was great to see the heart of Access and to learn where we were headed,” Chris said.
The couple returned to Access and participated in GroupLink, an event at which couples are formed into small groups based on their stage of life. Chris and Sarah found a small group and settled into Access.
That December Chris and Sarah found out that they were expecting triplets. “The triplets are a God-thing,” Sarah said. “We were ready to start a family, but we weren’t using fertility treatments. Suddenly we were pregnant with triplets.”
Ansley, Jack, and Noah were born at 28 weeks, five days, on April 22, 2008. They weighed less than two pounds, 9 ounces each. For the most part, the babies did very well, but on Mother’s Day, doctors discovered that Ansley had a blood infection and meningitis. Soon after, her lung collapsed. “For about four or five days, we didn’t know if she would survive,” Sarah said. “It was very uncertain.”
Ansley pulled through and slowly regained strength, even though she had to stay on oxygen. “It was always one or two steps forward, then a step back,” Chris said. “We were really in the trenches.”
Chris and Sarah welcomed Noah home June 16. “Having one baby was sweet,” Sarah said. “But we longed to have the other two home. And making trips to the NICU was difficult since Noah couldn’t return.”
Jack came home July 2. “Having two was incredible,” Sarah said. “It was more manageable than I thought it would be. But we missed Ansley so much, and we had a hard time getting in to see her.”
After 84 days in the NICU, Ansley came home July 15. She had to stay on oxygen and an apnea monitor once she arrived home, but in late August, she was able to start weaning off the oxygen. “We were so thrilled to have her home,” Sarah said. “It was quite overwhelming at first with the oxygen and medications, but it quickly became manageable thanks to my mom staying with us and the prayers of so many people.”
Chris and Sarah relied on their Access small group during the pregnancy and while the babies were in the hospital. Of the six couples in the group, two of the wives are nurses at the hospital. And another wife’s mother works in the NICU. “Having nurses call and offer help were glimpses of God’s provision,” Sarah said.
The small group also helped Chris and Sarah by bringing them meals and holding small-group gatherings in Chris and Sarah’s home so they would be able to care for the babies and still participate in the group. “The prayers and support from the small-group members have been incredible,” Sarah said. “Their prayers were like a blanket wrapped around all of us. The body of Christ is truly amazing.”
Chris and Sarah are anxious to get through this first winter, as even a slight cold could send the babies back into the hospital. But they continue to trust God and take it one day at a time. “God thought of these babies from the beginning of time,” Sarah said. “In fact, He was the only one who wasn’t surprised by them. He carried them throughout their gestation, and He will continue to carry them. And us.”