“Nick-you” is how hospital staff pronounce the high tech place where we place the dozens of premature babies born each week.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – NICU – is a world of wires, IV bottles, tubes and back-lit beds that look as though they belong in the scene of the movie “ET” when the extra-terrestrial is being examined by scores of scientists and doctors. In close quarters doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists squeeze through tangled tubes to deliver highly specialized healthcare to the tiniest people you’ll ever see.

Last year I told you the story of one of those tiny people, but I think the story is worth repeating. It’s the story of Kobe J. Bracy born July 9, 2001. He weighed 2 pounds, 5 ounces and at 15 inches, this tiny miracle wasn’t simply small, he was in trouble.

His mother, Jessica, began to pray.

Actually she had never stopped praying since at least 1997. That was the year she married Kevin Bracy and discovered that pregnancies weren’t as easy as they seemed. By 2000 she lost three pregnancies in her first trimester.

Although such a track record is more common than most of us realize, it was obvious that Jessica would need a different approach. That approach was suggested by Dr. Orel Knight who placed her on a kind of “house arrest” after finding her ten weeks pregnant.

Yet this approach brought Jessica only as far as 18 weeks and her water broke. The doctor grimly predicted, “You’re going to lose this baby, too.”

Desperately, she tried to bargain with the doctors. “What can we do? I’ll do anything and I won’t complain.”

Swayed by Jessica’s determination, Dr. Knight admitted Jessica to our high-risk maternity unit where she received highly specialized care. Yet with everyone’s best efforts, Jessica was unable to hold Kobe longer than 28 weeks.

Now, on this hot evening in July 2001, Jessica prayed; even as she heard the doctors speculating that “it would be a miracle if Kobe survived the first night.”

At that point Jessica remembers thinking it was “important to choose which voice we were going to hear. God brought us this far. The reason wasn’t yet clear, but Kobe was going to bring it all together.”

Still there were more discouraging voices. The doctors told the Bracys that even if Kobe cleared the crucial hurdle of the next two weeks of lung development, Kobe wouldn’t likely walk or talk.

Amazingly, after only two short months in our “Nick-you,” it was clear that the Bracys had listened to a divine voice. Their prayers had formed Kobe into a clear image of his parents, and at only 3 pounds and 15 ounces, Kobe headed home with his new family.

Today, Kobe is a fast and furious five-year-old. . However, he’s not entirely well. He has a chronic colon disease that causes frequent hospitalizations. The flare-ups come with more pain and more dire predictions about his future.

“Getting pregnant meant a life change,” Jessica said. “… but the love for a child inside of you is greater than anything you have to do. After seeing Kobe, I would do it a million times again.”

On July 9, 2005, Jessica prayed one last time for another miracle. But at only 22 weeks into her pregnancy, she lost Kaleb Julius Bracy.

Prayer is important, but without a willingness to act, prayer can be empty ritual. That’s why this spring, in honor of Kaleb and Kobe, I’ll be walking alongside the Bracys in an annual fundraiser to promote research for premature births. If you’d like to know how you can help, please visit my web site at www.thechaplain.net

Please email Chaplain Norris at norris@thechaplain.net or write him at PO Box 19522 Sacramento CA 95819-0522. Visit your favorite book store for his book, No Small Miracles.