The Spirit of Caleb
I was there in the first week of November 2009. Even with translation, I think this is a helpful message for all missionaries and churches serving in challenging (overwhelming) situations. The message speaks for itself.
Almost thirty years ago my wife, Jeanne wrote a book which biblically identifies and challenges sectarianism. We have never been so troubled by people holding minor doctrinal opinions as much as we have been concerned about what these distinctions have done in dividing the body of Christ.
This book was the result of our own journey and experience. I believe that it is extremely well considered, important and timely and hope to see it into the hands of as many people as possible. Feel free to broadly distribute this link.
This has been one of the most monumental years of our lives. As most of you know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February, and for the next eight months our lives were consumed with tests and treatments of one sort or another. When cancer is caught early, you have no symptoms—no pain or discomfort to alert you to its presence. Yet you must hit it hard to prevent its spread … and then the discomfort begins!
Throughout these months, Tony and I went through most of the emotions associated with a shocking diagnosis: disbelief, dismay, sadness, even flashes of anger. But thankfully I was spared the paralyzing fear that often comes as well. From the very beginning, I had an overriding sense of God’s peace, reassuring me that everything would be okay. All I had to do was trust and rest in Him. And so I did (most days at least). J
God’s grace was freely given as so many friends and family members prayed for me, and it proved sufficient for everything I had to go through. On November 9th I had a follow-up CT scan, a routine check after the chemotherapy and radiation treatments are complete, and the results were everything we had hoped: no cancer anywhere else in my body! Thank you, Lord!
With my health issues, Tony had to shift his priorities and ministry schedule. He was a great support to me and in some ways suffered along with me, especially during the chemotherapy phase. But thankfully he was able to get away and teach at Bethany College in Minneapolis twice this year—in January and June. Then in October, he made a three-week trip to Italy and Slovenia to encourage the believers there and teach a seminar on preaching.
We were glad to be able to travel together in September to minister at the church we planted in Ottawa 25 years ago—Chapel Ridge Free Methodist. I loved speaking at the ladies brunch and catching up with many of you over that anniversary weekend. Tony stayed on an extra week after I flew home to take part in the annual ACCI board meeting.
We had several visits from our children this year. What a blessing, since I was unable to travel to see them! Matt and his family came for a visit in March. Rachel came to help out while I had my surgery in April and returned with her two boys for another visit in June. Then Sky and his family came for a week’s holiday in August. Amy and her family still live nearby, so we get to be a part of their lives on a year-round basis. We’re excited about the upcoming arrival of grandchild #10 … a new baby for Matt and Noemi. They are expecting a girl, which will even out the numbers a little. Right now we have 2 granddaughters, and the rest (7) are all grandsons! Every one is unique and wonderful.
In 2009 Tony and I also enjoyed hosting friends in between our treatment and work schedules. Some came for only a few hours, while some stayed for a few days. It was fun to see Bud and Debbie Narraway, Brian Gallagher, Ken and Linda Roth, George and Dolly Foster, Ralph and Lois Kellett, Larry Brune, Mark and Ben Peterkins, and the Cerasino family (Aldo, Mariela, Rebecca) from Parma, Italy. I hope I didn’t miss mentioning someone who visited! If I did, please forgive me. J
My brother, Gary, and his wife, Christy, visited us a couple of times this year—once in January and once in October. The Lord continues to build our relationship with them. We’re thankful for the opportunity to sow seeds of God’s love into their lives. Gary’s son, Aaron, who now lives in Pennsylvania, also came to visit his grandmother and stayed with us. My mother had her 93rd birthday in September. She is slowing down, but continues to be blessed with good health considering her age. She lives in a memory care facility 12 miles from our house.
Tony and I have been attending a Nazarene church in Charlotte for about six months. It’s located close to where my mother lives—that’s how we found it in the first place. The pastor is an excellent preacher/teacher and his wife leads the worship team each Sunday. We’re praying about how we can get involved there beyond Sunday morning services.
I’m still enjoying my full time job at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. My department leaders helped me in every way they could throughout my treatment process, and my co-workers freely gave me both emotional and spiritual support. Praise God that He went ahead of me and prepared these resources before my need arose!
Tony and I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your friendship. We were reflecting on the fact that we’ve known some of you for over 30 years! Isn’t it wonderful that we still enjoy a strong bond of Christian fellowship after so long a time? This gift, given by the Holy Spirit, is precious and rare these days. All of you—no matter how long we’ve been connected—provide great encouragement to us through your love, prayer support, and financial gifts. Thank you for believing in us!
We praise God for all He is and all He has done in all our lives. How faithfully He has kept us through the “many dangers, toils and snares” we’ve already been through, and we know that what the old hymn says is true: “Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Remember to cling tightly to the Lord in the coming year. No matter what may come, His grace will be sufficient! Our prayer is “that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2).
Love in Christ,