It is Monday AM as I write while waiting for the sun to rise.
Sunday was an intersection for Laila and me confronting conflicting emotions and facing life challenges. Three days prior I had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
We stood together during the end of the sermon to share with the congregation(s) the news and medical path ahead.
The doctor says that if you are going to have pancreatic cancer pray that it is where my lesion is located. There is hope that the end of my pancreas can be excised. Detection is very early. There are no signs of cancer in lymph nodes.
It all began with a gentle allergy. Light cough. Subconsciously I pressed my hands to my abdomen. Felt sensitivity on left under ribs. Not same on right. Said to Laila: "That's not right. I am calling Dr. Stokes."
My physical only weeks earlier had been with flying colors. Virtually perfect score.
Dr. Stokes and Sue, his wife and nurse, are part of our Covenant Family. A few hours later I was in his office. Later he told me that if it had been winter he might would have tried something else. But summer...
He decided on a blood test checking the pancreas. Enzyme level was up. CAT scan followed. Consult. MRI. Consult. Biopsy---results positive for cancer.
It appears I may lose my spleen, left kidney and a portion of my pancreas.
Time for wise counsel. I leaned on others. Decided to inform children, a few close friends, meet with Elders/pastoral staff Sunday 7:30 AM, and then share with congregation during services.
It may seem odd to you what I shall share about Sunday. Sermons for the past two weeks have been about "Grit" as the Apostle Peter challenged the diaspora to prepare for suffering.
How do I tell you that yesterday will be remembered as one of the best days of my life as a pastor? The spiritual maturity of leadership and the congregation was a high holy celebration of worship! In a godly manner I was so proud of Covenant Church!
All of this since June 18. Only 3 weeks ago today. Because of early detection I have absolutely no negative symptoms. Still eating what I want to eat. No weight loss. No pain. Sleeping well.
There is no sign of the cancer having spread to lymph nodes or other organs. Because alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs have never been part of my life, my health being good, and my weight being proper for height, doctors say I am an excellent candidate for surgery with hopeful future.
So it is Monday as I write. I must trust Pastor McCready to lead staff and work with Elders led by Wayne Roberts. Staff and elders are awesome. I do trust them.
By the time you have read this I will have made the journey of so many others and walked through doors that have above them in large letters "Cancer Center". I will probably also know surgery schedule.
Good news is that the surgeon at University of Virginia is one of the elite in the world. UVA is also tops in cancer treatment.
How can you pray? Pray that Laila and I will walk through this season with integrity that brings honor to Jesus and His Church. Pray that my witness will be consistent with the character of my preaching. Pray for healing.
Laila and I love so much to encourage pastors' families.
And, we love Covenant. Yesterday, before going into Second Service I journeyed through the nursery and children's church. Hugging children that I was pastor when their parents were born.
The calling of being a pastor is heavenly.
Thanks for your love and prayers.
You can follow our church Facebook page for updates at www.facebook.com/covenantchurchcville.
People are asking how they can help. How to speed my healing in addition to prayer? Here is how.
It would mean so much to me if you would join with Laila and me in a special building fund offering this Sunday. Let us see through to the FINISH. This would include furnishing of the grand foyer and the outdoor seating area.
Maybe you are a friend who has been blessed by Covenant. I invite you to join with us. Covenantchurch.net/give has directions for giving online and the address for mailing a check.
This gift for the completion of God’s house will be a significant blessing.
I thank you for caring, praying and giving.
We are overwhelmed.
I Peter 5:7