The beginning of each new school year promises endless possibilities. Fresh faces, new adventures and that oh-so-cliché question that is just too convenient to resist: “How was your summer?” Your next couple of weeks will undoubtedly be filled with stories of camping trips, days at the beach and scandalous summer flings, but if you ask Campus Pastor Coba Canales what he did with his summer, you will be in for an inspiring surprise.
From early last spring leading up into this fall, Canales has been working through the long, tedious process of becoming a kidney donor for his father, Rev. Dr. Isaac Canales. Isaac Canales has been the senior pastor at Mission Ebenezer Family Church in Carson, Calif. since 1980, and has earned a master of divinity from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in new testament studies from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena. You can hear the respect in Coba Canales’ voice and see the gratitude in his eyes when he talks about his father.
“He’s a fighter, a great leader and a man of integrity,” Coba Canales said.
In his 63 years of life, Isaac Canales has struggled with his health many times. He was born with polio, has had diabetes since age 40 and was diagnosed with cancer in 1991 — he overcame all of these obstacles with faith and a refusal to quit. In 2008, he contracted an intestinal disease, which required emergency surgery. Shortly after recovering from the procedure, his diabetes caused his kidneys to gradually begin to fail. Isaac Canales has now been receiving dialysis treatments three times a week for about a month, and is undergoing a series of tests to see if he is healthy enough to undergo a kidney transplant.
Throughout the course of these tests, it was determined that his blood is O positive, the most rare of all blood types. Doctors told the Canales family that the most likely match would have to be a close relative. Upon hearing this, both of Coba Canales’ brothers went in to have their blood tested and found that neither of them were a match. Shortly after, Coba Canales had the same test done and discovered that his blood was O positive. Currently, Coba Canales and his father are being tested for general health and compatibility to determine whether or not a transplant is possible.
Coba Canales says he never hesitated to consider donating his kidney to his father and that he knows it is the right thing to do. When asked how this situation was affecting him on a spiritual level, he said he was grateful for the way that God has opened doors for the process to begin.
“It has been an opportunity to learn how to put my trust in God completely, with my life, and my body,” Coba Canales said.
Coba Canales, whose first child is due this November, says that he would love for his kids to know their grandfather and be able to remember having him in their lives. Isaac Canales’ fighting spirit and unbreakable tenacity has left a strong impression on his son, and Coba Canales hopes that his children will be able to see that quality in their grandfather firsthand.
“This is a tangible way to show my dad how much I love him, care about him and am thankful for him,” Coba Canales said. “As followers of Christ, it’s our job to always keep our eyes, ears and heart open to where God is leading us.”
Coba Canales’ relationship with his father, although close to begin with, has become much closer, and they are both being more mindful of their health in order to make the process as easy as possible.
“He loves being a grandpa … and he’s a father figure to many,” Coba Canales said. “He has more to give. God is not done with him yet.”
APU students can be praying that God would allow Coba Canales and his father to be completely compatible for a kidney transplant as they undergo these tests, Coba Canales said.
It is often easy to look around and ask how things can possibly be this bad. Millions live in poverty around the world, people bring guns to movie theaters, fly planes into buildings, burn down embassies and at times it seems as though the world is a hopeless place. It is stories like these and people like Coba Canales who remind us that the world still holds hope and beauty. God is still working. He is working through us, and as long as that is the case, there is hope to be found.