The David’s Refuge Story, Pt. 1: Eleven Little Words

by Nov 4, 2013Books and Resources, Special Needs Parenting4 comments

Eleven little words changed Warren Pfohl and his family, & led to the creation of David's Refuge, a respite program for parents of kids with special needs.

This week Different Dream welcomes a special guest, Warren Pfohl. Warren and his wife Brenda head David’s Refuge, a respite ministry for parents of kids with special needs. For the next three days, Warren shares the story of how the respite ministry came into being. Today, Warren introduces us to their son, David.

The David’s Refuge Story, Pt. 1: Eleven Little Words

“Your son has Batten Disease.  It is untreatable and always fatal.”  It’s amazing how eleven little words can flip your world, faith, and life upside down.  Little did we know the journey we were about to embark on.

David was born on November 2, 1988 as a normal healthy little boy.  He was full of life, mischief, and joy.  He was an expert at annoying his older brother Christopher and a play buddy for his younger brother Daniel.

In late February 1997, two months after we returned from Poland as missionaries, David began to have difficulty seeing. Within a matter of weeks he lost all of his central vision and some of his peripheral. For two years we searched for a diagnosis and treatment for David’s vision loss.  We ended up at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD where a German doctor diagnosed him with Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis, or Batten.  It was there we heard those eleven little words.

Amazingly, those eleven little words helped answer a huge question I had been struggling with God over.  As I mentioned we had just returned from Poland as missionaries.  We had spent six years there learning the language and developing a team to start a church.  Everything was going great.  We were committed for the long haul—well, that is until my wife’s health crashed.  Brenda became gravely ill and we were forced to return to America.

We felt like failures.  For the first time in my life I doubted God’s purpose and plan for my life.  Why would he send us to Poland, have us learn the language, and start the first few baby steps in planting a church to then take it all away?  I felt as if God had grabbed me by the hair and flung me back to America with no job and no idea of what I was going to do.

And then I heard those eleven little words. My perspective was changed.  Instead of seeing God as arbitrary and mean, I saw how He graciously used Brenda’s health to move us from Poland to America, to place us in the best school district for children with special needs, and to give me a job as a pastor in a church that supported us and cared for us as we cared for David.  God had a plan all along.  Even before David was born God knew he had Batten Disease.  He had a plan for David’s life and He had a plan for our life and He was teaching us to trust Him even when it didn’t make sense.  Isaiah 55:9 became our go to verse.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For the next thirteen years we cared for David, loved David, and watched God’s plan for David’s life live itself out in living color.  And despite those eleven words, were able to say at the end of David’s life, It is Well with Our Souls!

Warren and Brenda would love to meet you and your child with special needs. So go ahead and introduce your family in the comment box if you like.

The David’s Refuge Story, Part 2
The David’s Refuge Story, Part 3

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By Warren Pfohl

Warren Pfohl lives in Florida with his wife, Brenda. Warren and Brenda enjoy being parents and grandparents and encouraging families dealing with special needs. If you are interested you can follow his blog at or follow him on Twitter at @Davidsrefuge.


  1. Jolene

    Hi Jenny! Hang on until tomorrow and Part 3 will go up. You will love the end of the story!

  2. Jenny

    This is such a beautiful story. Amazing faith. I tried to read part 3 and it said the link was no longer available. Can you fix the link? I would love to read it.


  3. Jolene

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Thank you for another glimpse into Warren and Brenda’s hearts. Someday, I hope to have the honor of meeting them in person as you hae.


  4. Elizabeth Hugo

    Just met Warren and Brenda. They are overcomers and their ministry is marked by the peace of God over their home and all the details of David’s Refuge.


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Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.



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