This week I had the joy of having my son Michael, his wife Caitlin, my son Daniel, and my parents with me. On Sunday at a mall in Dallas, Grace and her friends were approached by a woman who was so impressed by their godly behavior that she gave them $100 in cash. The girls decided to donate that gift to Chemo Church. Later, that day the girls saw the woman again and told her they had given the money to Chemo Church. She was so moved that she decided to give them an additional $200 towards the ministry.
After completing my radiation treatment on Monday, I was told that I didn’t need to take any more Chemotherapy and that I could go home after I met with my doctor. There was no way I was going home, after seeing firsthand the tremendous need of the patients in the Chemo Ward. When the Lord brings you through your storm, it is a joy to be a lighthouse for others and show them the way.
When we entered the main hospital we prayed in the lobby for divine appointments and for God to open the door for ministry. The first time I went through the ward no one looked at me, and the door to minister appeared to be closed. I knew our work was not done, so I went through the ward again and, immediately in front of me was a couple from Prestonwood Baptist Church, who are battling cancer. They mentioned how they were trying to find me, but just didn’t know how. We sat and experienced an amazing time of prayer, which changed the entire mood as they encouraged us in our Chemo Church ministry. They went to their car while we were ministering to other families, and brought us a very generous gift for Chemo Church.
Later that day I met a woman who was there with a relative and had recently surrendered her life to Christ. She was struggling with being abandoned by someone she loved, and I had the joy of telling her that our Lord Jesus Christ will never leave her or forsake her. She began to cry when I gave her a book of God’s Promises, that she pledged to read on this new journey with the Lord. We then went to the chemo ward and I walked in just like I was a patient. We brought snacks for the nurses and gave each of them a book for encouragement. One of the nurses told me, “this is fuel for our spirits, so that we can continue to serve our patients.” My last visit was with a lady who has been battling cancer for ten years. She saw us with all the nurses and wondered what the celebration was about. When I shared my story and asked if I could pray for her, she said absolutely. After praying, she looked at her husband and said, “he prayed that I would be restored.” She then shared that recently she had asked God for a word and when she opened her Bible, she placed her finger on a verse that read, “Job is Restored”. She began to cry when I told her the name of our church being planted in the inner city this fall is Restoration Community Church. The more I shared with her, the more the tears fell, as she believed the word that the Lord was telling her, that He is Able to restore her body for His Glory.
I wanted you to read a word from my son Michael as well as from my Mom.
In the Chemo Ward this week I had the honor of speaking with a lady from Denver, Colorado, who is battling stage 4 cancer. She had just finished her treatments and was waiting on her daughter to pick her up from the hospital. I could tell she was discouraged as she sat there slumped in her chair, head facing the ground; I could see the look of desperation in her eyes.
As I sat down next to her and introduced myself she looked at me in shock. I’m sure she was wondering why I was sitting next to her. As the conversation progressed and I found out more about this lady, I was blown away at how empty and hopeless she felt. As a believer, it is easy to become accustomed to the peace and grace of God and forget that those without Christ are in such great need of His peace, love, and grace. What a great reminder and lesson this week has been that the world is hurting and in great need of a savior. Most importantly as a believer, it is my job to share the hope of the gospel with these people.
I have always sympathized with Jacob as he sorrowed over his lost son, Joseph; however, I can now also rejoice with him in his son’s restoration. As Mike planned to go to MD Anderson, the LORD told me that He had a mission for Mike in Houston. MD Anderson was the “slavery/imprisonment” God was using to get Mike to the place of special mission. This week God was kind enough to give my faith sight. I saw amazing ministry to staff and patients at the hospital, but even more I was allowed to see the storehouses opened and the famine-stricken residents of the third ward given the God-gift food of hope as pastors, business men, ministry and resident leaders met to plan a new work in Houston. The LORD also gave me a view of His additional plans for Mike as a godly nurse at the Proton Therapy Center prayed over Mike a prophecy and an affirmation: ” Pastor Mike, you are in the right place; God is giving you many more years of additional service for Him.” Take courage the right place for you can be in a cancer treatment facility, it can be in an economic disaster, or even in the sorrow of a broken relationship. “What the enemy meant for evil God means for good.” Our God is an awesome God.
Thanks to the generous donations of so many to Chemo Church we were able to buy 30 all day passes to the Houston Aquarium for the children and their parents. The person I led to Christ at the hospital is going to continue to serve the children of Chemo Church when I go back to Dallas. We are praying fervently for the person or Church in Houston that will adopt this ministry as their own, to continue this work.
I cannot describe the joy it brought my heart to see my parents and my son go, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to so many in the cancer ward. There is a bond that cancer patients have that is much like a family. You are instantly placed in this band of brothers and sisters. This week as I walked with my biological family through MD Anderson and the Third Ward neighborhood, it was amazing to see these unique families all come together through the redemptive work of the Lord.
Our time in the third ward this week was beyond belief. The meeting has now grown from one to over 25 people gathering to pray, and ask God to completely restore this inner city community for His Glory. I had the joy to reconnect with a young man I mentored 18 years ago, Josh Allen, because his wife read this blog. He is now on staff of a great church in the Houston area. He actually interned for HISBB’s in Dallas and is very prayerful about how his church can be involved. The Lord opened the door for several amazing, kingdom minded business men to join us, as well as Pastor Cofield, the servant leaders of the community, and the guys from the streets whose lives have been transformed. I have watched as my parents, now in their 70′s, have taken in youth from the streets of San Antonio, and serve weekly in the inner city of San Antonio, and are in the process of taking back an entire block called HIS block for the Glory of God. It was a joy to see all of my children meet our new family here in the third ward. I stand in awe how God has already spoken to several of our friends in Dallas who are committed to the opportunity to serve in Houston and connect us to their friends here to help with this work. The community keeps saying “you being here is a direct answer to our prayers”!!
Cancer, Poverty, and Biological families are not something we choose to be born into, and yet in Christ when we choose to accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we are set free from the hopelessness of poverty and cancer and born into the incredible family of God. It has been my joy to meet these new extensions of my family here in Houston. When Velma came into my life twenty years ago, living on welfare in the housing developments of Dallas, I had no idea how this woman of great faith would change the course of my life. She taught me how to pray and fast and gave me an incredible picture of a living faith. When her only child was killed in a drive by shooting I saw the body of Christ love her and wipe away her tears and daily the Lord sustained her. Through this great tragedy the Lord broke my heart for the least who are daily murdered and abandoned in our cities. We must protect the unborn but also the born who are being killed every day in our streets. Velma is my family and therefore whatever she is going through is my burden or my blessing.
These past weeks the Lord has added many new family members to my life whether they are in the cancer wards or in the Third Ward of Houston. What a tremendous joy it would be if we truly saw our brothers and sisters in Christ as our families. It is where the Acts church began and where the church in America needs to return. We have become too isolated and have compartmentalized church to a few hours a week. What would happen if every believer “had church” every day in every place with everyone we met? These past 6 weeks of living in a new city, removed from the comfort of my routine, has reawakened my heart to the pattern of living daily with a Missional mindset. I challenge you to daily build new relationships and have Gospel discussions with the ordinary people encounter. There is no doubt that as long as the Lord gives me breath in my body that I will pray and fast for the lives of precious families battling cancer and poverty.
We continue to be amazed at the sovereignty of our great God. Thank You, Lord for opening this great door of opportunity that would have never happened apart from this battle with cancer. My twin, Mel who serves as our City servant with my parents in San Antonio said that while he was reading the word about how the early churches were scattered through persecution, that he felt led to call me and share that this is exactly what the Lord was doing through our battle with cancer. With that in mind I truly do count it all joy for how the Lord is expanding His Kingdom through this amazing season!
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” 1 Pet. 4:19