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Guest Interviews

Cathleen Lewis

Edited By NA

2066 09/06/09

Cathleen Lewis (CL) is the mother of Rex Lewis-Clack (REX). Rex was born with a large cyst on his brain which led to blindness and autism. Despite being born with these great challenges, Rex is a musical savant. Cathleen and Rex' story has been featured on the CBS News program "60 Minutes," and Cathleen has written their story in her new book entitled, "Rex."

RHS: My guest today is Cathleen Lewis. I never met her until a few minutes ago but was a part of inviting her because she has a great story to tell. You may or may not have noticed that this church is different than many churches in that we focus on witnessing where some churches focus on preaching. We don't try to preach sermons from up here to down there. We do try to bring people who can come here and tell us what God has done in their life. We ask them: ‘don't preach us a sermon, just tell us the true story of how you have been blessed and saved.'

And that's the great story about Cathleen Lewis and her beautiful son Rex. Their story has been featured on the CBS famous program "60 Minutes." Rex was born with a large cyst on his brain which led to blindness and crippling autism. Despite being born with these great challenges, Rex is a musical savant. He has perfect pitch and is capable of hearing any song and playing it back immediately by ear. Cathleen is here to share her story of entrusting Rex to God and finding her faith in the process. Welcome with me that great, great mother, Cathleen Lewis.

CL: Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Schuller.

RHS: You radiate. I have a gift for sensing it. Some people have a gift of singing, talking, hearing; I have a gift of discerning.

CL: It's an important gift.

RHS: It sure is. And I see the fruits of Christ in your life. But start at the beginning about Rex. That's what we're going to talk mostly about.

CL: And that is the beginning of my life, in a way.

RHS: Yes. Tell us the story.

CL: Well I was expecting a child and I had a lot of dreams for him, like we all do when we give birth. But when Rex was born, it was more like a death to me.

RHS: At the birth day?

CL: Not right at the birth day but while pregnant I began learning more and more about what was going on with him. On the birth day, I fell in love with my child, absolutely forever in love with this little baby. It was a feeling stronger than any I'd ever felt before.

But I did know that he had a cyst in his brain that had to be operated on. And after it was operated on, we thought that that was it, that we'd go on with our lives and our dreams for this beautiful child. But there were complications. We then learned that he was blind and that was shattering. That felt like death and I was heartbroken for my baby. And I was full..

RHS: How old was he when you discovered he was blind?

CL: He was 4 ½ months.

RHS: You didn't know it until then?

CL: No because of his brain operation and it looked like he was focusing on me but his eyes were wavering. I thought it was maybe wandering eye, something correctable. So I wasn't really prepared for a diagnosis of blindness and that was an utter shock to me. It sort of, like I fell out of the world. It was almost too big to even grasp and the idea of bringing a child into the world without the equipment as I saw it, to deal with the world, was overwhelming to me.

But blindness, Dr. Schuller, was just the beginning because it soon became apparent that he wasn't developing in other ways. So apparently the cyst had affected the brain as well and he wasn't learning to walk. He didn't learn to walk or talk and he became very sensitive, like his whole body was a raw nerve ending. His hands, he'd ball them up in fists so he wouldn't have to touch anything because they were too sensitive. And his ears, it was like he'd hear just the slightest sound and it would overwhelm him. And his brain was completely dysfunctional. I was heartbroken for him and that I'd brought him into this world and he was having such a hard time of it.

RHS: Did you have guilt?

CL: Overwhelming guilt.

RHS: Did you really?

CL: Guilt, I thought I'd never get past. It was eating away at me and I blamed myself that this was my fault. How could I, as a mother, bring a child into the world in that state. I was so scared.

RHS: Were you a Christian at the time?

CL: No, no I wasn't. I wasn't. Through that experience with Rex, that's what brought me to my knees and brought me to know Christ. Living life with my son, it was like I was walking on egg shells all the time and I was just overwhelmed. In addition, my marriage broke up in the midst of all that, so I found..

RHS: Which often happens, yes.

CL: ..often does and I found myself utterly alone and scared. Before that, I thought I could solve my own problems. But I couldn't solve this problem. So I began searching and God stepped in. He stepped into our lives, into my life and drew me to Him. And soon there were two miracles.

As I began going to church in desperation, really to plead for my son, there were two immediate miracles. One was a little keyboard for Rex that showed up in our house as a gift for his second birthday, right after I began going to church. And that was a gift of grace from God. When Rex laid his fingers on those keys for the first time, I think he knew it himself that this was directly from God because there was something in those keys that drew him out of his sensitivities. He uncoiled his own hands and it was like those keys, it made sense. The keys, the notes, the order, it was like God was giving him music whereas the world was giving him chaos and dysfunction. And his music did develop from there.

RHS: Did he take lessons?

CL: He took lessons. He only started when he was about five and a half, and his first teacher called his music a touch of the divine because he didn't have to teach Rex the basics of music, the theory. He showed Rex one scale, one time and Rex played all the other twelve scales that same day.

RHS: So he is a true savant.

CL: He's been called a savant, and it's also been said that his music, as I said, to be a touch of the divine. And that's why I wrote the book. I wrote about Rex to talk about that faith because I think God has given me a powerful story in Rex to tell.

RHS: Beautiful picture of Rex on the cover. And we'll have a chance to meet him briefly. He's going to play for us? Can we meet him and say hello to him before he plays?

CL: Absolutely. Here we go, Rex. Here's Dr. Schuller.

RHS: Rex, I'm Robert Schuller, one of the ministers here.

REX: Hi, Dr. Schuller.

RHS: And how did you come to play the piano? Do you believe in God?

REX: Yes.

RHS: And in Jesus?

REX: Yes. Yes I do love Jesus, Dr. Schuller. And He loves me, too.

RHS: You're going to play a song for us today. What is it?

REX: I want to play my Brahms's Waltz medley. Its three Brahms's waltzes I picked up from Opus 30. And I love it because part of its powerful and part of its soft and sweet so its fun, Dr. Schuller.

RHS: Good.

CL: All right.

RHS: While he makes his way to the piano, his book "Rex," it's all about him, written by his mother. It's available at the hourofpower.org.

© Copyright Hour of Power 2009. This interview was conducted by Robert H. Schuller from the pulpit of the Crystal Cathedral and aired on the Hour of Power April 19, 2009.


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  1. youngeone writes:

    Thank you for sharing yours and Rexs incredible journey ,GOD is a GOD of miracles ,Thank you .JMC

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    09/08/2020 03:06:22

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