NEWCASTLE—On Dec. 19, 2017, Caleb Freeman and his younger brother Clayton were driving to a basketball game, when they were involved in a serious automobile wreck. Caleb, 16, who suffered major brain trauma, is the son of Newcastle, First pastor Jeremy Freeman and his wife Emily.
Clayton was released from the hospital shortly after the accident. However, Caleb has been treated at the University of Oklahoma Hospital for brain injuries, and on Jan. 15 was transported to Craig Hospital in Colorado where he will undergo rehabilitation.
What has happened since Dec. 19, through an outpouring of prayer and other support for Caleb and the Freemans, is a demonstration of grace and the fingerprints of God, according to Jeremy.
“We want doctors and nurses and anybody that has been around Caleb to understand that, yes, God uses doctors and nurses and uses medicine—and we are thankful for all of those things—but in the end, we want there to be no other explanation but God. That’s where the hashtag #butGod comes in,” Freeman said. “We want everybody to be able to say, ‘Okay we know that the Lord has used a whole host of people in this journey, but in the end we know that God did this,’ and that’s our big prayer for Caleb.”
According to Freeman, “OU (hospital) has done their part. They got Caleb stable and medically safe. They have done all that they can do, so that’s kind of part 1, and now part 2 is to get him to a rehabilitation facility where they can more intentionally and aggressively work to stimulate the brain and begin the process of rehabilitation.”
Initial projections suggest that Caleb will spend “anywhere from 8-12 weeks (at the medical facility), even though it could be longer.”
In spite of the long road ahead, the Freemans are encouraged and inspired by the show of support they have received for Caleb and their family.
“I would say that it’s interesting in our lives, we have a tendency to focus on the church with a little ‘c,’ like our local church,” Freeman said. “But we are seeing the church with a capital ‘C’ like we have never seen it before.
“I’ve had people contact me that are missionaries around the world, people from little churches, big churches, all over the U.S., all of the messages that we’re getting from Christians on Facebook. Caleb has 40,000 followers on the Facebook page, which is crazy to me.
“We’re having people contact us like crazy just letting us know that they are praying. Never in my life have I seen such a rallying of support. And just on a personal level, our church has people that pray 24 hours a day, every day. My executive pastor sends a message out to our church, and he asks people to pray through the night, and people pick an hour to pray. Literally, every hour of the day and the night, someone is praying for Caleb, and I can’t even tell you what that means to us.”
In addition to support through the church and on social media, many have reached out in other ways. “The boys were on the way to an OU basketball game when the accident happened, and I don’t know how they found out about it, but somehow Coach Lon Kruger knew of this. He actually came up to see Caleb. We had prayer together with Caleb, and it was a special time. Then (OU basketball player) Trae Young heard about it, and wrote Caleb’s name on his shoes and said (on Twitter) he was playing for Caleb.”
In spite of the consistent show of support, there have been many ups and downs during recent weeks from the Freemans.
“Caleb is not in a coma, but he’s not fully awake yet,” Freeman said. “He’s in this phase that is what they call a disorder of consciousness. So he’s basically waking up, but he’s not fully awake. When he opens his eyes, it’s not like you and me when we open our eyes. If you’ve ever opened your eyes in the middle of the night out of a deep sleep, and you’ve had that moment of ‘Where am I?’ you’re kind of confused, that’s kind of the state that Caleb is in.
“However, there are moments of clarity. Like (recently, when) we have a friend in the church who’s a speech therapist who came to see Caleb. And she came at just the right time. Both of his eyes were open, and he was starting to wake up a little bit. She began trying to stimulate him and do some other things that speech therapists do, and it was amazing.
“His heart rate was rising because he was getting excited and connecting with what was happening. And when my wife was talking to him, both eyes were really focused on her; he knew who she was. And there’s a deep connection there that you can tell when you’re a parent.”
Freeman mentioned that God has carried them through many discouraging moments. “We have had some lows too,” he said. “(Caleb) has some mild neuro storms that his brain (acts) like a computer doing a system check. Your brain detects an error, and that error causes your body to react and the way that he reacts is his body gets real tense, and his arms get real stiff and you have to break that tone by being really gentle.
“We have some super highs and lows on this journey. It is just a part of the process of him healing, which makes for high stress for mom and dad because you don’t want to see his struggle as a part of his healing, but he is struggling because his body doesn’t know how to react.”
In describing his son, Freeman emphasized Caleb’s tender heart.
“Caleb is a tender young man,” he said. “I like to say he’s a quiet leader; he’s not the guy that’s going to walk in the room and own it, and people are just drawn to him. He has that kind of personality where people want to be around him, because he’s got that quiet strength about him. He is the one runner on the Newcastle cross country team. He won every race for Newcastle this year, first place, but he just runs his own race. And even right now, we know that he is running his race.”
Throughout the coming weeks, Freeman knows God will sustain them through this race.
“Just knowing our son and his personality, he’s not a super outgoing guy, but he’s very loyal, very steadfast,” he said. “People love to say ‘You know, Jeremy, I hope you’re ready for this because this is a marathon,’ and we say, “Good, because Caleb is a long distance runner. He is built for this; God has built him for this. And he’s going to come through. We fully anticipate a full recovery, but it’s going to be a journey.”
The Freemans have requested continued prayers for Caleb and for their entire family. “We have five other children, and we are trying to (tend to) them during this process.”
Jeremy and Emily are familiar with going on such a journey. Almost five years ago, they lost their young son Trey to a rare form of leukemia. They take solace in knowing many came to Christ because of Trey’s story. Now God has placed them on a journey with Caleb.
“We just want Caleb to be fully restored,” Freeman said. “Our big prayer is that God, in a way that only He can, heals Caleb’s brain in such a way that it’s no mistake that God did it.”
The Freeman family is putting frequent posts and updates on the “Pray for Caleb” Facebook page they have established at www.facebook.com/prayforcalebfreeman.