My Last Hurrah?
Cancer didn’t change my plans
When the doctor told me I had prostate cancer, I think he thought I would react with some sort of nervous denial, or shock and horror. I had none of these. I was 80 years old. In my work around the world, I’d seen many wretched situations. I’d learned to compartmentalize bad stuff in some corner of my mind, and it now applied to my own situation.
I just said to my doctor, “So what’s your plan?”
I also asked myself, “So what’s MY plan?” The doctor’s plan was 40 radiation treatments. My plan was to return to Africa one last time. Mary and I moved to Kenya in 1963. We raised our children there. We wanted to visit the Cal Bombay Ministries’ projects. We also wanted to say our farewells to the people and places that have meant so much to us over the years. Recovery from the cancer treatments was slow but steady. In November, I was ready to return to Africa. Mary and I travelled with our daughter Elaine, and Mary’s nephew and wife, Stephen and Brenda.
Gardens, Good Friends and a lot of joy
It was an amazing trip. We first went to northern Uganda to visit the refugee settlement. I wanted to see the Gardens of Hope project firsthand. I was overwhelmed by the effectiveness and enthusiasm of the participant families. Their happiness made me happy, and once in a while, I came close to weeping.
I was honoured to be a part of the dedication of the Good Friends Church in the settlement. On Saturday, I taught on faith at a seminar for church leaders. On Sunday, we dedicated the church and installed the pastors, elders, and leaders. I preached from Jeremiah 29:4-7. We had a glorious feast including meat, rice and greens with hundreds of attendees. CBM had donated a bull for the celebration. Most refugees can’t afford meat, so this really was a special meal. What struck me was the joy. These people, in the middle of what is clearly miserable conditions, were happy and living with joy. I was very emotional; I know the places they’d left behind.
Their farms and homes in South Sudan were occupied by an army of bandits and murderers. And now they live as refugees. My heart was broken. And yet, they had joy. Clearly, what we are teaching them to do is making a great difference on their outlook on life. Hope and a future! The words of a government official keep coming back to me: “[CBM] has swept misery from this place.”
Overwhelmed by God’s goodness
Next, we travelled to Kenya, where Mary and I lived for many years. I was humbled to be a part of the 60th anniversary celebration of the church my father had built in 1959. Mary and I and our children attended this church when we lived in Nairobi. What a thrill to see what God has done in the past 60 years. CITAM (Christ is the Answer Ministries) now has 45,000 members meeting in 28 churches around Kenya. Praise the Lord! In the 1970s, I was the general manager of Evangel Publishing House in Nyang’ori, Kenya. When it was time to build a new larger building, I found some land on the outskirts of Nairobi. The property was more than big enough for the press and for the new Pan Africa Christian College.
How many times I walked around that land, asking God to use it for His Kingdom! I was once again overwhelmed at what God had done. Evangel is still producing Christian literature as part of the now university which is expanding to make room for its 3000 students. One of the CITAM churches meets there as well. Never could I have imagined what God would do with the tiny seeds of faith when I obeyed Him so many years ago. God is not finished yet, and neither am I. After all, I’m just eighty-two!
Just before Christmas, I received a good report. My blood work shows that I’m cancer free. Hallelujah! Since I’m only semi-retired, I’m still doing what God has called me to do—serving those in need.