Mike Burnard is sharing a new and vulnerable song to celebrate his miracle son's 2nd birthday.
Mike and Jasmine Burnard have two sons. Their youngest Declan celebrated his 2nd birthday on January 18, 2021. However, the first month of his life, the couple didn't know if they would see this day.
Right after he was born, cardiologists determined that Declan had transposition of the great arteries (TGA). TGA is a congenital heart defect that is present at birth.
Declan was flown to Edmonton where he underwent surgery to repair it on January 21. He had three surgeries within four days of being alive. After a month of being in the hospital, fighting to stay alive, Declan was released and could come home.
"Since everything that happened with Declan and the experience of such high trauma, it doesn't matter who you are, you go into some dark places in the recovery time. For me, it took the form of PTSD," Mike says.
Mike was previously the music team leader at the Meeting Place Church in Winnipeg and is now the worship pastor at Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church in Steinbach.
"Mental health was never something that was on my mind previously. I could sympathize but I had trouble empathizing. Going through that season was such an eye-opening and humbling journey."
Before becoming a worship pastor, Mike was the lead singer in The Boy & The Sea.
"I would say that that whole experience killed the performer in me. I grew completely content with the idea of never being seen or heard again. I had to battle just to continue being on stage in the faith community."
After his son came home, it was hard for Mike to write any music, afraid of what it might open up.
"I intentionally went on this path of trying to heal, getting professional help to get me out of that PTSD, high trauma state. Over time, moving into new health, I could feel songs starting to be written internally."
It was six months ago that Mike started writing this birthday song for Declan and the majority of the lyrics were on the page within ten minutes.
"There was a piece of me, as a pastor and leader in the faith community, where, the lyrics are very vulnerable because of what we had gone through. I was writing with the honesty of what we were going through."
Without reserve, Mike shares his heart and feelings in song-form on social media.
"What I've seen in this season as a pastor is that authenticity and vulnerability have become one of the biggest leadership tools. When you're vulnerable you'll get a lot of community who put their hand up and say 'thank you, to know I'm not alone in this means everything,'" he says.
Mike has received countless messages already thanking him for his honesty in this 'lament' of a song.
Reminiscing on that time in the hospital with many uncertainties, Mike recalls a prayer he and Jasmine said.
"We'll take anything, even if this kid is the biggest handful, we just want him to live. You start to make these deals with God which is part of the grieving process. I can say with complete honesty that after two years, not a day goes by, where I'm changing his diaper and you see that scar on his chest. Then you just look up a few inches and there's this huge smile. Jasmine and I shake our heads in disbelief daily that we are blessed with this boy who's now incredibly healthy," says Mike.
Other than an annual check-up, doctors are not concerned with Declan's health.
"Because of him coming to this earth, I'm so changed, pastorally yes, but just as a human, the amount of compassion that I now have for people with mental health issues. It's elevated every relationship. Being his dad has been an absolute honour."
Thousands of people prayed over the family during the first month of Declan's life, including friends and family, as well as CHVN listeners.
"Declan means 'man of prayer'. We had no idea that within his first few days of being alive he would lead thousands of people in prayer. That support, that's what carried us. We were moved to tears, even months after."
While the Burnards walked through a difficult season of life, Mike can see with clarity that God was and is a constant in their lives.
"We felt [God] in the hundreds of people who actually took these steps of obedience and promptings on their heart to, 'I'm bringing you this right now and I don't know why'. That's what we needed."
The Burnard's celebrated Declan's birthday by decorating the house in an underwater ocean theme.
"My wonderful wife goes all out, even in the midst of a pandemic and decked the house out. We planned a parade and people drove by for an hour straight, with some of the most beloved people in his life bringing presents and saying 'hi'. It was a great birthday, considering."