Today begins my third week of treatments at MD Anderson. This week I am humbled that Daron Babcock is joining me for the entire week to continue to hold up my arms in this ongoing battle. Daron is our new Director of Community Development for HIS BridgeBuilders. He has recently resigned as Vice President of sales for a 7 billion dollar corporation and now makes 20% of what he used to make. He has sold his beautiful home in the suburbs and is now living in our inner city community. He lives in a small bedroom in a house shared with one of our men whose life has been radically changed, through the power of the Gospel. When I went to pick him up to travel with me, he was doing the laundry for one of the men in the neighborhood, whose life is daily becoming more like Christ, after years of wrong choices. This man said he loves being with Daron and sits on his porch almost every day. We can never minimize the “ministry of our presence” among hurting and broken people. Daron’s faith and faithfulness humbles me daily, like so many of our staff, who have given up so much of this world to follow Jesus.
Our first stop is always the Proton radiation center where we arrive at 6:30 am for my treatments. I had the joy of praying with two new technicians Monday. They were awesome and so thankful for prayer. I then go to breakfast before beginning the long day at the main hospital for labs and chemo. This gives me the opportunity to buy muffins and snacks for the staff at the Proton center, who work very long hours, and need encouragement, as well as for other patients’ families in the waiting room. It is amazing how an 89 cent muffin can be used to open the door for the gospel. Compassion is the hinge of the door to salvation. I have been sharing with one particular staff member about the Lord and today, when I brought her some muffins, I saw a New Testament on her desk. I was thrilled. I asked if it was hers and she said a patient had given it to her today. I had been led to hand out Jon Lineberger’s book “What God did with a Mess like Me,” which he donated to our Chemo Church ministry. When I handed her the book I told her that God had a plan for her life and that it was no accident that another patient had given her the Bible on the same day. She looked at me with a tear in her eye and said she believed this as well. She is reading the Gospel of John and we will be discussing it following my treatments. Praise God!
On the van ride over to the main hospital, I met the most amazing couple. The husband has had a brain aneurism and now has a very rare cancer that eats your skin. His head was swollen and bandaged from the cancer and his treatments. He shared with me, after I asked how I could pray with him, that “Prayer is the greatest medicine of all.” He kept saying “I am a miracle!” He knows that God alone has saved Him and is sustaining him, and he is not complaining, but rejoicing during this very difficult trial. I am Humbled by the amazing faith of couples like this, who are teaching me how to count it all joy. His wife shared, after finding out about our inner city ministry, that she loved feeding the homeless and was very interested in doing this type of ministry when their battle with cancer is over. Several people have given me funds to give away to people I encounter in Chemo Church, and the Lord was clear that I was to bless this couple, who are in a battle for his life, and whose desire to return to their home town and help the least. When I gave them the money, I told them it was from the Lord and was a gift to feed them, so they could know that the Lord loves them and wants to encourage them in their faith, and honor their desire to feed the homeless one day. His wife just beamed with joy.
When we arrived at the Chemo ward for our three hours of treatment, the most amazing thing happened. The front desk, who all know me by now, spread the word around the entire ward that Pastor Mike was in his office in room 9. I long to encourage this amazing staff who cares for so many, so I always ask them if I can pray for them, and often give them a book that will bless them. They too have the amazing “ministry of presence” in one of the most difficult ministries on earth. Please honor these front line servants who love so effectively in our hospitals every day. This time we saw people we have seen before and one of them actually came into my room and started taking my tower of Chemo and walking out of my room with it. Obviously it’s attached to me so I had no choice but to follow. They led me to another patient that was having a very difficult time and opened the door for me to simply talk with her, and encourage her and ask if she wanted me to pray for her. She was very thankful and with tears flowing from her eyes, thanked me for coming to her room. It is amazing how the Lord is leading us daily in this amazing “ministry of presence” among some of the most amazing people of faith I have ever met.
Ask God today the name of one person that you need to go be with, and by your presence be a bright light in a very dark season of their lives. Remember that a little light goes a very long way in the darkest places, for the Glory of God.