CINCINNATI – Prayers for William Burton, a Little Leaguer who wasn't given much chance to live after a cardiac arrest at practice, are coming from everywhere.
Not just in his hometown of Grayson, Ky., but from everywhere – as in Zimbabwe where his aunt and uncle, Kyndra and Nick Moore, are missionaries with the International Mission Board.
William was stricken on Tuesday, April 9, and Kyndra Moore "sent me a video of those men praying at 5 o'clock in the morning Wednesday," said Amy Burton, William's mother. "I'd been up all night and I had been pretty strong. I hadn't cried. But when I saw those men crying out to God for my son, I was sobbing hysterically. I prayed, 'God, please hear what those men are saying!'"
William, 12, is now seen as a miracle – and maybe even a little bit of a celebrity – because of his amazing recovery thus far.
Cincinnati Reds baseball announcer Marty Brennaman sent William get well wishes over the radio airwaves, and the Reds and the NFL Cincinnati Bengals have been in contact through the Cincinnati Children's Hospital where William is recovering after being airlifted two hours after being stabilized in Ashland, Ky.
"The hospital does e-cards and I have a whole stack of them from all over the United States and even Canada," his mother said.
But one thing Amy makes sure everybody knows: "Let God get the glory!"
Neither she nor her husband Derrick, members of First Baptist Church in Grayson, was at the field when the incident occurred because they were taking their other son, Thomas, to another baseball practice and their daughter Ellie to a piano lesson. "There's two of us and we had three places to be," Amy said.
The dispatchers in Carter County reached her by cellphone to tell her that William had collapsed and they were going to the field.
"I knew it was urgent, but my thought was, 'It's going to be OK.... William is a professed Christian and he believes in Jesus.'"
His sister, who is 7, told her mother that she didn't want her brother to die.
"I told her William is going to be OK no matter what. He will either be in heaven or be able to spend more time with us here. She just cried out, 'Jesus, Jesus heal my brother!'"
When her son was brought out of sedation in Cincinnati, he asked "Where are we?" and his mother told him about all that had happened, which he didn't remember. A couple of hours later she said he asked another question: "Why me?"
"I told him God chooses certain people to work miracles through," Amy said. "He chose you to show His glory to the world."
He once told his mother he hoped that when he died that his mansion would be next to Papaw Ben, his late grandfather. William is a good baseball player and is popular at school. "He's the kid who makes every other kid feel good. He's an encourager," Amy said.
William's progress has stunned staff at the Cincinnati hospital. "They cannot believe how quickly he's recovered," Amy said, though he still has weeks of recovery ahead, including the installation of a pacemaker-like device.
Meanwhile, well-wishes keep pouring in through social media. A coach with a traveling baseball team named the Titans immediately made stickers with WB5 on them – William Burton and his uniform No. 5 – that he sold for $2 apiece with proceeds going to the Burton family. Photographs with players wearing his stickers have been shared on Facebook with the Burtons.
"Baseball is the American sport and we're getting a lot of encouragement and support from the baseball community," Amy said.
The necessity of having automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at ballparks, schools and anywhere else was driven home.
William, who was running along the outfield fence loosening up when he collapsed, has a heart condition called long QT syndrome, which makes him prone to irregular heartbeats and sudden cardiac arrest. In 2015, he had a similar experience when he was shocked while swinging on an electrical guide wire.
He had an AED in his backpack, but his stunned coaches and teammates didn't know it and the Little League didn't have one on site. They attempted CPR and William gasped for air, but his pulse faded. An ambulance happened to be five minutes away or they may have lost him on the field.
Two other ambulances soon pulled in. "That is only God working," Amy said. "Every single person came out and worked on him [from the ambulances]."
As he was being stabilized in Ashland, Amy recited 2 Timothy 1:7 over and over again: "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline."
"He was unconscious and his eyes were closed," Amy recounted. "I had to speak the Word over him. I spoke Jesus name over him out loud. Then I sang 'There is power in the name of Jesus' and it helped calm me. It was the Holy Spirit's way of comforting me."
She said the 2 Timothy 1:7 verse was from a past Vacation Bible School teaching experience. "That was the verse that came back to me."
Josh Schmidt, their pastor who was asked to pray with the Burtons in the trauma room, said, "The medical team [in Ashland] was awesome. The parents were twice as awesome.
"He's the sweetest kid," Schmidt said of William. "Pastors want to say this about every kid but, straight up, he's a prince. He's one of these kids who shares his faith with anybody." His father baptized him a few years ago and Schmidt recently baptized the younger siblings.
"We know God is using William to turn people to Jesus," Amy wrote on a Go Fund Me page, "and to bring Himself glory through our cries of desperation. He's good. He's faithful, and His perfect love casts out all fear. Please keep praying in the Powerful name of Jesus."
Written by Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.