Many of you have been asking when I am going to have surgery. We actually don’t know yet. We are going to see the surgeon in Indy on Friday and should know after that. We have been told to expect a wait of 4-6 weeks. We found out last week that the doctor doing the surgery is the best in the world at this specific surgery. That was a huge encouragement. At the doctor last week we were told a bit more about the upcoming operation. It will be a fairly intrusive and complicated surgery but one this surgeon has done many times. They will cut my stomach from below my belly button to right below my sternum to remove the remaining tumor. Recovery will take 4-6 weeks as it will take a long time for my abdomen muscles to heal. Please begin praying now for this surgery, for my surgeon Richard Foster and for my recovery.
Over the last few weeks I have felt better and have been able to experience more of a normal life rhythm. One of the things I have wanted to do is to think back on my experiences thus far and write about what I am learning. As you might imagine, I have been shaped and reshaped through this process and have much to share. This is the first in a series I am calling “Lessons Thru Cancer” where I will share a few thoughts on what God is teaching me.
James 5:16 is a verse I have read and heard preached numerous times. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” I believe this passage to be true and have even seen God work through the prayers of his righteous people. However, it was not until I saw God’s people respond in the midst of my battle with cancer that I began to more fully understand the depths of this passage.
At the beginning of our cancer battle, people asked what they could do for us and how they could help. I was broken and knew what I needed most were the prayers of God’s people. So, what I asked people for was prayer. I asked people to pray and to ask their churches to pray. I had a vision of seeing churches from all around the world, in multiple languages, praying for this struggle that Sarah and I were going through. What I began to experience over the next 3 months was a movement of God’s people to pray. They rallied around a suffering pastor and responded by praying faithfully. I saw this most vividly through my own church here in Louisville. We are a large church in four locations and each of these locations has had a movement of prayer on my behalf. Dear friends, fellow pastors, small groups, members, non-members and complete strangers took up the task of praying. This Sunday, while I was on stage during a service, the congregation began to applaud for what seemed like a few minutes. They had given their hearts and souls to prayer on our behalf and were now celebrating the healing work of God in our lives.
The crazy thing is that the movement of prayer did not stop with our local church. Dozens of churches from around the country have contacted us through this blog, through letters or in person, letting us know they have been praying. Some of these churches we know well and others we have never been to. Many of them follow our story on this blog and pray weekly for my healing. The most amazing part of this story is that churches from around the world have been fasting and praying for my healing and for my family. Churches in England, France, North Africa, Ghana, Nepal, India, the Dominican Republic and other nations I am unaware of. At several points in this whole process I have been overwhelmed by God’s goodness in moving his people to pray for me from all over the globe. Why would both people who know me and don’t know me take the time to pray on my behalf? So many days I have not even prayed for myself, yet these faithful men and women of God have prayed. I am learning that the church of God, both universal and local, is a powerful force. To see the bride of Christ come together through prayer has deepened my understanding and love for the Church.
If you are reading this and you are a part of one of these churches-thank you. Thank you for giving of yourself and your time to love me so well. Because of my sickness and the craziness of treatment, I have not been able to keep up with all of the churches praying for me. If you are a part of a church that has been praying; please take a moment and let me know in the comments section. Thank you again and I challenge you personally to think deeply on the Church- the bride for which Christ died. She is a powerful force both to see the kingdom expand and to love those who are broken and hurting. If we will embrace the church and play the vital role God has given us in it (1 Corinthians 12), I really believe we will see the power of God working through the prayers of his people to grow our churches and change our hearts.