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Simple sounds stir her praise to God

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Ice cubes clinking together in a tall glass. The fizz as a favorite can of soda opens. A bird cheerfully singing outside. Common sounds most people do not even notice.

For Allison Wilson, these sounds and many others cause her to praise God as she hears them clearly for the first time at the age of 23. Wilson has spent most of her life looking and listening but never really hearing. But with the help of a cochlear implant, which was turned on April 12, she has “heard” for the first time. Over the next several months, as her brain adjusts to the stimuli of many different sounds, Wilson is being introduced to a new world of hearing.

“I feel so wonderfully excited and blessed each time I hear a sound or a word,” she said. “It has been a highly emotional time, from the night before my surgery even to today as I hear new sounds.

“Being able to hear has made me feel richly blessed,” she added. “Each time I hear a new sound, I silently praise [God].”

When Wilson decided to get the implant, she wanted to live with her parents in Shreveport, La., to share the experience with them, but she also wanted to begin pursuing a seminary education.

“I looked into several seminaries and discovered that I could take classes online from Southwestern, and it was too perfect for me to be able to stay home for the implant and still take classes,” said Wilson, who hopes seminary will help her better define the call from God that she accepted as a high school senior.

Wilson enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and completed her first course online this spring. She plans to move to Fort Worth and begin attending school on campus this fall.

Wilson was born “a happy, healthy bundle of joy,” but at age 2 she became deathly ill and was diagnosed with meningitis. At first, she was given 36 hours to live.

Although she survived, she lost her hearing.

Despite the loss, Wilson said, “I had a great childhood. I was a happy, energetic, strong-willed child. I loved school and did well. In fact, I learned to read at a much earlier age and was a grade ahead in reading each year at school.”

Wilson believes God blessed her with the gift of lip reading from the very beginning. Through lip reading, hearing aids providing some environmental sounds and many years of speech therapy, she has been able to communicate with other people.

Born into a Christian home, Wilson said she has always had a close relationship with Jesus.

“I have amazingly godly parents,” she said. Her parents and other family members have had leadership positions in their churches.

Wilson accepted Jesus as her Savior at age 7 and was baptized at Trinity Heights Baptist Church in Shreveport.

Her relationship with the Lord, she said, has helped her much in the past year as she carefully weighed the choices in deciding whether to have the cochlear hearing device implanted.

“I felt I had exhausted all other options concerning technology and my hearing,” Wilson said. “I had digital hearing aids that were one of the highest-powered options available and began looking into newer technology.”

She said she had heard about cochlear implants but did not seriously consider them until her senior year at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. As she did research on the implants, she said, she realized it would be a hard decision and began to pray “what God’s best would be for my life.”

“I have always prayed for divine healing, and I have always believed that God could heal me anytime, anywhere if it was his plan for my life,” she said. “I began to struggle with whether getting the implant was the right thing to do because I wanted to be healed in a divine manner so that I might have a testimony of God’s healing.”

She said she didn’t want the implant to seem as though she were giving up or doubting God’s ability to heal. After talking with people and praying for nearly a year, she scheduled the implant.

“I had found a great peace in having the implant and felt that God knew my heart and knew my desires,” she said. “He knew my faith and trust rested in him alone.”

The surgery was completed March 19 and the external part of the implant “turned on” April 12. Learning to use the implant, Wilson said, “is a long process that requires my brain to adjust to the sounds and learn to form words and understand words over time. It will probably take up to a year to receive the full benefit from the implant.”

But even now, Wilson can understand sounds she has never before been able to distinguish. For instance, in the past, with hearing aids, she could hear a sound, but not be able to distinguish its true nature and source, such as the difference between higher pitch female and lower pitch male voices. But with the cochlear implant she is able to distinguish specific voices.

On Mother’s Day, Wilson’s mother knocked on her bedroom door and asked her a question through the door. Wilson responded by jumping up and screaming with glee as she not only heard her mother speaking but also understood every word.

“God, who is the God of all comfort, gave me great peace and comfort in the times I needed it most,” she recounted. “He is faithful and I have learned many things about the great character of God. My God is constant and my love for him has remained constant.”

    About the Author

  • Mark Cheslik