This past week, we returned to MD Anderson to do follow up scans from our seven weeks of chemo and radiation. Since leaving Houston, the Lord has opened many doors of opportunity for us to advance the work that God began there. There are three young men from the Third Ward who have been on my heart and in my prayers, as to how we could walk with them in ministry. A wonderful friend of the ministry, whose wife is a volunteer with the ministry, read our Blogs about Chemo Church and the Third Ward and asked to meet with me to discuss the ministry to the inner city of Houston. We met for over an hour and it was clear that an incident that happened in our community, where his wife’s purse was stolen at a community outreach had a great impact on him and awakened his heart to the ministry opportunity in Houston where he has been in business for years. Two brothers, who are involved in our children’s ministry, were able to convince the person who took the purse that it was wrong to steal, and returned the purse to his wife with nothing missing. Our volunteer was overwhelmed by the true spiritual change that is taking place in Bonton, where several years ago the purse would have been long gone. He said he would help fund the ministry in Houston and would use his influence with other business men of that city to be a part of what God had put on his heart for their city.
If we had not been obedient to go to Houston, despite the clear direction of our Doctors in Dallas and many well meaning friends, this work of God in the Third Ward would not have been birthed. The Board of H.I.S. BridgeBuilders voted unanimously to add Houston, Texas as our seventh city of focus for our ministry. The three young men from The Third Ward attended our City Summit (a gathering of staff from all our cities) and spent three days in my home while here. They said this was the first time in their lives they had ever traveled to another city for the Lord. Our staff and team ministers to inner cities across the country are still looking for that one young man that is going to be the change agent for the Lord, after 6 or 7 years of ministry, in several of our cities. It was after 13 years of ministry that Velma and I finally found Rodrick and Clifton here in Dallas. It is a miracle to meet three men who are committed to Christ and the Word of God. We are deeply humbled by the work of Good Hope Baptist Church and Pastor Cofield for their investment in these men’s lives. They have dreams and tremendous leadership abilities, but just needed someone to walk with them as they follow Christ. We are thrilled to be a part of their families in Christ and are expectant of all that the Lord has planned.
We are getting emails and calls from people across the country who want to be a part of Chemo Church in their own hometowns. We are working on how this will work and are praying about next steps. I spoke to a wonderful young lady in California who is going to begin Chemo Church in the Chemo Ward at her doctor’s office. She is already doing amazing ministry during this season of her great need. We are going to collect funds for Chemo Church through H.I.S. BridgeBuilders. These will be designated and distributed to our partners around the country who commit to pray for the patients and staff, show compassion, and give the gift of Christian resources and funding where needed to help with immediate needs. We are working on connecting these patients and staff to our counseling ministry, so that we can have continued contact with those in their season of great need. The Lord has taught me many things during this season and I am going to be doing another series of Blogs entitled Chemo Church…Life Lessons. I am prayerful that you will continue to join me on this journey as I share different stories of people around the country and their amazing faith.
Medically, I can share that last week as we prepared for this week, I was feeling very good and increased my weights during my workouts. I try to workout at least 5 times a week, focusing mainly on cardio and light weight training. My back became very sore and I was extremely uncomfortable as we drove to Houston for my niece’s high school graduation. By Sunday night the pain had intensified greatly and the enemy was using it like a fiery dart, to tell me the cancer had spread to my spine, and it was absolutely one of the darkest nights of my soul. I wept with my wife and said I couldn’t go on and that we just had to kneel by the bed and beg our Great God for Mercy. Clearly, in this moment of extreme weakness, I was strengthened only by the Lord. The next day was Monday and we determined to call, MD Anderson and try to move my scan to Monday instead of flying back on Thursday, as had been previously planned, because the Oncologist only sees patients on Friday. We called and asked to speak to our amazing Doctor, who is over the Proton Radiation center. We asked if the scheduler could get us in to see him on Tuesday and do our scan on Monday, following our meeting in the Third Ward. If any of you have dealt with a huge hospital like MD Anderson, you know it is not likely you can schedule these things around your mission trip to the Third Ward, and ask the Doctor to see you the day you need to see him. The scheduler politely informed us that it would be almost impossible to schedule and that our Proton Radiation Doctor does not see patients on Tuesday. I simply said please ask, and continued to pray for Mercy. About two hours later she called me and said, “you must believe in miracles, because the scan was scheduled for that afternoon and the Doctor would see me Tuesday morning, on the day he doesn’t see patients.” I bowed my head and remembered the verse, that God never gives us more than we can bear and that He gives Mercy to whom He chooses. We did our scan, but still had a great sense of doubt and spiritual attacks that day. That night, Mike Buster, our Executive Pastor and a true brother and Barnabas to my life, flew to Houston to go with us to the Doctor appointment. He knows me well, and asked how I was doing. I told him that Laura and I were both exhausted and holding on to Jesus. It was his presence that reminded me of each of you, who have been like the four friends who carried their friend to Jesus and broke through the roof, so that they could bring their fiend to Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, He healed the lame man. So often when you are in a fierce spiritual battle, it is the faith of friends and family that carries you to Jesus, and believes Him for the miracle you so desperately need. Too often we feel guilty when we are weak or worn out from the battle, but it is at that moment that Jesus and His Church are there to sustain you and carry you to the finish line. The next morning the lies were still flying from the enemy that the cancer had spread to my spine, and there was a great sense of darkness all around me. When we met with the Doctor, now 36 months after being told I had 8 to 18 months to live, he finally told me that everything looked great and there was NO EVIDENCE OF CANCER!!! I bow tonight on my knees before God and say Hallelujah, what a Savior!! In my weakness, when I decrease, Jesus increases! I want you to be encouraged to be needy, for there is a God who can meet your every need. Stop being anxious and get on your knees and simply cry out to God for Mercy!!! Thank you all so much for praying for me, my family, and the ministry of H.I.S. BridgeBuilders, which by the way was in great financial need this last Monday as well, and when we begged for Mercy, the Lord laid it on the heart of an amazing woman of faith to give us a gift of $25,000, because the Lord had been speaking to her the last several weeks in prayer!!
We will be posting Chemo Church…Life Lessons beginning next week. Please let me know how we may serve you or pray for you in your time of need. To God be the Glory for the great things He has Done!!!