In the spring of 2019, Christy and Chris Davenport faced terrifying news: their middle child, born with Down syndrome and then age 13, was diagnosed with leukemia. Along with their daughters, Jessey and Seren, the family and entire community rallied around Landon. Here is a glimpse of their faith journey—adapted from Chris’s Facebook posts.
I don’t think I’ve ever prayed as much in my whole life as I have these past 24 hours.
The biggest stress is watching Landon, as he doesn’t understand why he is being poked and prodded with needles, and of course not understanding while his body is reacting with intense pain. I ache for him and only wish I could assume his burdens. His strength is amazing. As I sit here tonight and watch him fall asleep in his bed, there is a peace over him that can only be from God’s hands of protection. I know God will be glorified through this.
Landon has so much more to do still in his life to spread the love of Jesus. God has placed Christy and me in charge of making that happen. It fills my heart and charges my sails.
Landon with Mom Christy
Landon with friend Athan
There is hope in the midst of suffering: Suffering will not last. Suffering is doing something. Landon’s suffering through today’s chemo will subside, his strength will return, he will get on with his mission. We know the suffering is doing something. There is no growth without pain. Pain clarifies and prioritizes needs. Suffering, while never desired, will be worth it.
“There is no growth without pain. Pain clarifies and prioritizes needs. Suffering, while never desired, will be worth it.”
While Landon can’t understand the relationship between suffering and growth at this point, I’m pretty sure he understands the concept of hope. I know he’s darn good at spreading it.
Landon had the next round of chemotherapy today and rocked it like a champ. His spirits are high and he is loving the attention our amazing nurses and doctors are throwing his way. They think they’re here to brighten his day—he’s got them all fooled. Far more smiles walk out of his room than ever walk in.
Today a thought popped into my head. When we pray, are we praying for our own desires, or are we praying for what God desires for this situation? The past week I’ve done both. In one prayer, I ask for God’s immediate, miraculous intervention for complete and total healing of Landon. In another prayer, I ask God to present us with as many opportunities as possible to reach lost people all around us.
“When we pray, are we praying for our own desires, or are we praying for what God desires for this situation?”—Chris Davenport
Which is the better prayer? Does God desire us to ask one over the other?
If Landon is miraculously healed tomorrow, God will be praised and honored. If we stick it out the full hospital time here, Landon has the opportunity of maximum eternal impact on lost folks, and God will again indeed be glorified. How does one choose?!
Luke 12:30-31. Since day 1 of our leukemia journey with Landon, God has provided countless opportunities for Christy and me to relinquish all control and give it over to Him. Today was no exception. Today they needed to change out Landon’s port access needle.
I had a pow-wow with the nursing staff this morning to go over the game plan. Initially, I would physically hold Landon down, with the aid of several others grabbing his flailing appendages, while one poor soul does the dirty deed of sticking the needle in the port. Then one nurse asked if there was any other way that wouldn’t be so traumatic. My response was simple—because Landon usually reacts to my desire to intervene, I can’t physically be in the room.
“Giving up control to God gives Him the opportunity to show you His omnipotence.”—Chris Davenport
One nurse, Brenn, is awesome with Landon. My suggestion was let him go in alone. Out in the hallway, four nurses and I eagerly and quietly listened for the kicking and screams. Instead, we heard laughter, playing, celebration, and finally success. Brenn flat knocked it out of the park! Why was it so stinkin’ hard for me to give up control?!
Giving up control to God gives Him the opportunity to show you His omnipotence. He will come to you if you let Him in. Listen, eagerly and quietly, for the success God desires for you just on the other side of the door.
The chemotherapy induction phase has not gone as the doctor had hoped, as we all had hoped and prayed. I do rest in comfort knowing that Landon doesn’t understand this new detail, spared this opportunity for grief. I thank God for this. I also thank God for letting me carry that burden. Until today I have been carrying that in relative silence.
“God has this, it’s His plan, His timing, His provisions that will help us endure, help us build character, and most importantly, give us hope.”—Chris Davenport
Today we went to church. We had hugs and encouragement at every turn. I saw person after person who has prayed for us and blessed us, truly sharing our burdens. It was powerful; it was humbling. It was yet again God showing me physical proof that He has this, it’s His plan, His timing, His provisions that will help us endure, help us build character, and most importantly, give us hope.
Landon contracted pancreatitis, and we’ve been back in the hospital for 21 days. During this time, a beautiful thing happened:
Landon loves firefighters, and a friend in a local fire department came to meet Landon at the hospital. He brought him a unique gift—a blanket with fire department patches sewn on it. He then posted on Facebook Landon’s picture with the blanket, asking others to send Landon patches from around the country. The post was shared over 3,000 times. Each day our pile of envelopes grows, and we will be having an opening party tomorrow at the hospital with Landon. (I probably should have warned our mailman.) We are giddy with excitement!
All of you encouraging Landon are a part of a much bigger story. Know that God uses your gifts and talent to impact exponentially. It’s never a one-and-done thing. If we could all do this consistently, imagine how much greater eternal impact we will have both individually and collectively. Quite frankly, that’s mind-blowingly transformational!
Landon & the Local Fire Department
Landon with Patches
Ladies and Gentlemen, today is Landon’s 14th birthday! For 14 years Landon has brought joy to this world through his kindness, generosity, grace, and unconditional love. He’s a light in the darkness, a smile among frowns, and an island of happiness in a stormy sea. His disability is his super-human strength.
“Be Landon’s smile today.”—Chris Davenport
While we don’t know for sure what the future holds for Landon, we do know we serve an awesome and mighty God. We will continue to praise Him and give Him all the glory for Landon’s life! We ask that you honor Landon today by simply being kind, generous, and caring. Be the servant to someone’s need. Make somebody’s day without expecting something in return. Be Landon’s smile today.
Landon, Christy, and Chris Davenport
Landon and his sisters Jessey and Seren
In simplest terms, today we learned Landon has cirrhosis of the liver, stage 4—the most severe. There are no treatments that can reverse the damage. Since Landon is not cancer-free, he is not a candidate for a liver transplant. Eventually, Landon will go into liver failure. We have made the decision to get Landon home, as doctors expressed Landon’s remaining time could be from weeks to months.
We’ve got some living to do in a short amount of time.
There’s no preparation for this as a parent. We just have to wing it and hope we serve Landon and honor God as best as possible. Landon’s life has always focused on loving God and loving others. With these intentions, Landon has been preparing himself for his ultimate journey. We don’t know when this next journey will start, but we are going to do our best to help him finish this one well.
“We’ve got some living to do in a short amount of time.”—Chris Davenport
Today Chris and Christy baptized Landon at their church, The Crossing—Pike County.
I’m still smiling from today’s events. It’s a day I have been dreaming about for 14 years. If you spoke with the doctors on the day he was born, this day should have never come. Landon wasn’t supposed to walk, but instead he ran. Landon’s ability to communicate was supposed to be greatly impaired, but instead he speaks both verbally and by sign language. Landon was labeled a special needs kid who likely wouldn’t add much value to the world, but instead he changes lives daily for eternal impact through his unconditional love and grace.
Throughout November and early December, Landon checked off some items on his bucket list, like becoming an honorary firefighter with the Pittsfield Fire Department, riding super fast in a car, and working at Walmart for the day! The Davenport family, through the help of Make-a-Wish, went to Disney World and Sea World. Landon was given the Hometown Hero award on the local news, and his school created a special day just for him, everyone wearing Landon
T-shirts. Perhaps most moving for the family, their entire town held a parade for Landon.
There were 75 vehicles, ranging from fire trucks to tractors, motorcycles, police cars, and buses, and Landon sat up front in the lead fire truck. The parade went through the town, around the square, and past 4 schools where everyone came outside. All along the route there were folks waving, cheering, crying huge tears of joy, and honoring a little kid who, somehow, somewhere along the line, touched them directly or indirectly. Every single face we witnessed along that parade was the face of Jesus.
“Every single face we witnessed along that parade was the face of Jesus.”
This was exactly what we needed, and this was delivered in God’s perfect time and place. This has always been the true purpose of Landon’s journey of suffering: having eternal impact on those around him and sharing God’s grace on those who need it most. God is so, so good.
Romans 15:13. Joy fills my heart when I think back to our recent trip to Florida and the endless smiles it produced. There is joy, hope, and peace in our house right now, even amidst the suffering. Tonight while holding Landon, looking down at the unmistakable wincing pain on his face, he still manages to joke with me. I can’t fathom the strength it takes to put himself into a mindset of play while enduring such pain, all for him to see a smile on my face. Please pray for comfort for Landon; he’s in a rough spot at the moment. Medicine can only do so much, but we know his Creator can do immeasurably more.
“I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35).
We wrote about this verse back at the beginning, 8.5 months ago. We loved it because it describes Landon to a tee. Because of Landon’s disabilities, he couldn’t verbally recite Bible verses or deliver the perfect prayer of eloquence. What Landon could do, however, was love on you deeply and wholly. Landon brought mighty men to their knees with his outstretched hands, and he swooned the most reserved ladies with his insatiable smile.
“Lives have been saved because Landon loved unconditionally, just like Jesus.”
This morning, at 10:23 a.m., Landon left this earthly place behind. He left his broken body, his disabilities, his earthly encumbrances and moved on up to his rightful home in heaven. I can only imagine this little boy running at top speed with his new body and jumping into the arms of his Savior! I can only imagine Landon shouting for joy with his perfect words, greeting all of those who have gone before him.
Landon is free! Landon has won the fight! Landon is perfect!
We rejoice for the life of our son, a true difference maker. We rejoice that God has been glorified through this journey. Finally, we rejoice in knowing that even though Landon is no longer here on earth, his eternal impact will continue forward for a very long time. Lives have been saved because Landon loved unconditionally, just like Jesus.
“You can never be too far from the grace God gives to those who seek it. Seek Him out, by any means. You can be the next difference maker!”—Chris Davenport
Our pursuit doesn’t stop today; if anything, it only intensifies. You can never be too far from the grace God gives to those who seek it. Seek Him out, by any means. You can be the next difference maker!
Live like Landon. Love like Landon. Love like Jesus.
Read more from The Cornerstone Summer/Fall 2020
We hope that you are inspired by the stories in this issue of The Cornerstone. Thanks for being a part of God's work to transform churches and lives.