Open Letter to my Ethiopian Family
Thursday, February 09, 2012, 11:25 AM
Dear Family in Ethiopia,
As you know, God in His mercy and goodness sent me a disease called cancer. We became aware of this gift in August, 2009, just after a trip to Ethiopia. And since that time, while we have continued the ministry, we have been receiving many health treatments. We have had surgery, radiation, several chemo therapies, and Cyber Knife. The cancer moved from my uterus, through the lymph glands to my lungs, but it has not yet spread to other parts of my body.
Although these treatments have been difficult, and sometimes I have been in the hospital at the edge of Death, God has sustained me and given me work to do for Him. I believe that He has done this because of the prayers of many people for me.
As you know, I have not prayed for healing. I believe that God can heal; it is nothing to Him to remove this cancer from my body, just as it is nothing for Him to move the stars in the heavens. But the Holy Spirit has never impressed upon me to ask for healing, and we must pray in obedience to the Spirit. Instead of healing, my great desire has been to be faithful to Him, as He has been faithful to me. So, whether He gives one day, or one month, or one year, or one decade.....it does not matter to be kept alive, so much as it matters to be kept faithful. My heart has been to serve Him by serving others with joy and praise to Him. And the greatest gift He has given to me these past years is the privilege of working for Him, hand in hand, according to the leading of His Spirit.
And now we come to the CT scan and doctor's meeting of yesterday. For about 6 months we have been having a treatment called Avastin; this is like a chemo treatment...it is given every 3 weeks. And after each 3 treatments, we do a CT. The CT scan in October showed that the cancer had stopped growing, and we thought perhaps God was healing me through the Avastin. But the CT scan in Dec showed 3 tumors in my lungs...all were growing, and one was growing especially fast.
This week we had another CT scan...this scan shows that all three are now growing very fast. We met with the radiation oncologist (cancer doctor) to discuss doing Cyber Knife radiation again....but he said that because there are 3 spots, and they are far apart, that Cyber Knife cannot be used for treatment. He said there is no more treatment possible with radiation for my cancer. Surgery is also not possible, because the tumors are far apart. The only possible treatment is more chemo therapy.
On Monday, we will meet with our chemo cancer doctor. There are very few chemo drugs available for my type of cancer, and none of them work well. We have already tried all the drugs. There are no more drugs that have been proven to be effective. We can either try these same drugs again, or we can try drugs that have been proven for other types of cancer (but are not proven for my type), or we can try experimental drugs (that are not proven for any type of cancer). So Monday's meeting will be important.
In addition to these 3 lung tumors, 2 new things have developed. The first thing is that now the lymph nodes in my chest have cancer in them; this is an indication that the cancer is growing and soon will spread everywhere. The 2nd thing is that now I have pain in the bone of my right upper arm and shoulder. We do not know why I have this pain. Sometimes it is very difficult, and other times it is very little. On Monday morning we will do a bone scan....this will show us if the cancer has spread to my bones. If it has gone to my bones, then we can use radiation on the bone to help with the pain; it will not cure the cancer, but it will sometimes reduce the pain. Cancer in the bone is very painful.
So it appears that perhaps God is starting us on the last section of this Journey. He knows....we do not need to know the future. We only need to know the One who is holding our hand, and the One who will be faithful to us in the future as He has been to us in the past. Throughout this Journey with cancer, He has been very VERY good to me.....He has given me work, He has given me strength, He has given me nice curly hair, He has brought Nigusse here, He has given us Skype, He has given me your love and faithful prayers....and He has given me a platform to give testimony of who He is in the midst of Trouble and Difficulty.
I expect Him to continue to be good to me in the coming months. It is His nature to be good. He will continue to act towards me according to His character....He is loving, He is just and He is sovereign....as I have said many times in Ethiopia. He is worthy of our praise in the midst of difficulty and sadness. He is worthy of our trust. And He is worthy of our faithful, sacrificial, joyful service, and obedience.
So, although we may be sad at this news, we must set our hearts to sing His praises and to continue faithfully living for Him and trusting His character. If I talk with you on the phone, you will ask me "How are you? Are you getting well?" And I will probably say cheerfully, "I am fine." It is the truth. I am fine. Because of the Lord Jesus, everything is fine. But in His providence, I am also dying from this cancer. As Paul wrote to the early believers, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (2 Cor. 4:16). To belong to the Lord Jesus is a wonderful thing!
Know that you are greatly loved by me. It has been a great gift to know you and to work in the Kingdom with you. May He be glorified beyond measure in your life....this is my prayer. He is worthy of a life of joyful sacrifice! And nothing brings me more joy than to see you following after Him, as you have seen us model before you.
Rejoicing in our Lord Jesus, to whom all power is given, and whose presence is always with us (Matt 28:18-20),
February 10, 2012