As I shared earlier in this multi-part blog, the phone call from a friend to encourage me as I drove home from the doctor’s visit confirming cancer was a pivotal moment.
As we visited about this new diagnosis, my thoughts were focused on the realization of how many other individuals were currently receiving similar life-threatening diagnoses and how were they going to hear the wonderful message of life in Jesus Christ.
I articulated my thinking to my friend and began to process aloud the potential that, as my own family began to share the news of my confirmed cancer with our church and friends, we as a Christian family would most likely be inundated with various offers of support, help, love, and kindness from many Christians.
How could we realistically contrive even one thing for so many gracious well-wishers to do on our behalf? We were believers who already fully embraced the truth – unbelieving families, however, would be trying to move forward under similar burdens without Gospel-based truth.
But what if instead, every single well-wisher desiring to express support for us in the journey would take the initiative to share the message of Christ’s love with someone else who had not yet received it?
Just think of how many more people could possibly know of the love of Christ! My mind staggeringly lingered on what a marvelous means of support and Gospel-advancement that would be!
So at my request, that’s exactly what my husband, Pastor Sam, challenged everyone present (and listening by livestream) to do, as we shared the news of our trial involving my cancer diagnosis with our church family. I am still in amazed awe of the many, many who responded to the challenge expressed and shared Christ with their neighbors, friends, family, and acquaintances. It was truly thrilling – then and now!
God enabled us to share the Gospel personally as well, with cancer patient Randy and his wife Penny who trusted Christ (as told in a previous post), as well as other connected individuals.
A few days following the announcement to our church, we received this email from a lovely-souled congregant:
Dear Pastor Sam and Beth,
What an amazing message on Sunday. I have been a therapist in acute care hospitals for twenty years. The fear of death and suffering is a very heavy and ever present atmosphere. I have watched staff become calloused and mechanical in their provision of care at times in response. I have never witnessed anyone take the trial you have been given with the attitude I heard in Sunday’s message.
Health care workers are in such great need of seeing what faith and Christ looks like through the fiery trial of disease. Many of them serve with man’s wisdom and no training or resources to address the deeper spiritual issues. No one wants to help individuals walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I watch so many people walk that journey without any spiritual support and guidance. I will be praying for the people who will cross your path. The Lord has hand-picked each one of them to be impacted for the kingdom through your witness.
I continue to gently close the door and share Christ with those the Holy Spirit leads me to share with when I am at the hospital. I wish I felt more confident with how to approach their need and with my delivery of what they need to hear. I will not waste this opportunity Beth. I will try to learn from the grace and strength the Lord gives you to share what the Lord wants others to learn from your experience.
I am truly blessed and encouraged in my faith by your gracious acceptance of this trial, and your dependence on the Lord. My prayers and that of our whole family will be for grace and strength for all of you.
(One special medical provider who impacted our hearts immensely)
Coupled with other courageously shared challenges from brothers and sisters in Christ, this insightful communication opened our eyes more specifically to the “mission field” of medical providers into which we found ourselves suddenly ushered.
Due to my need for immediate surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible, we rapidly got acquainted with our attending surgeon, Chip. Initially, whenever conversation with him took a turn toward spiritual matters, lively give-and-take dialogue ended up falling flat. However, over the next two years in his care, God’s incredible working penetrated his heart for the Gospel.
Over the next 18+ months, four more Brookside Baptist members were afflicted with various issues requiring surgery. You guessed it – each and every one of them got Chip as their surgeon!
After performing their surgeries and coming out to give their families the post-operation update, he would encounter various pastors from our church, there to support the families. And he began to recognize an unusual pattern.
Our entire church began to earnestly pray for this doctor. It was Chip’s fifth patient from Brookside who had the great privilege of leading him to Christ, and when this individual asked Dr. Chip who he thought might like to know about his decision to trust Christ, he mentioned the Horns.
He phoned, leaving us a voicemail that he had become a believer that day and then drove over to church and shared personally with my husband the news of how he opened his heart to Christ. My husband was so honored to present him with a Bible!
God Almighty says through the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 29:11:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope [an unexpected end].
We truly praise God from whom all blessings flow for even cancer connections with others, nearly all of which have been Gospel-seed planting opportunities of one sort or another.
They are faith-building reminders that He is a Faithful God.
As we continue to pray diligently and reach out consistently to many, our prayer is that we would faithfully reflect our Faithful God as long as we have breath, and manifest a Svea-like Gospel tenacity each and every day.