Greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! I pray that you and all your beloved ones are well and in good health, by God’s grace.
This morning, I would like to share with you a little bit about my recent experience at the hospital. First, the way that the colon cancer was miraculously detected. After my wife’s insistence I conceded to do a colonoscopy. The reason that took me there did not materialize the suspicion that she had regarding my health. However, that provided the chance to find out what was going on inside of my body. I have always been healthy with lots of energy –- thank God. The last time I stayed overnight in a hospital was 38 years ago when I had that surgery in my brain, as shown in our Conference video in January this year. Nonetheless, we are all human, flesh and bone, and eventually the presence of sin and its consequences in our world gets to all of us. I have adopted a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet even before I became a church member. Prior to going to the hospital for that test, my brothers and I were (still are) dealing with our mother’s health. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer earlier this year and lately she is battling against colon cancer, which was discovered in September, a week before my diagnosis with that same health problem. That has been a challenge for my siblings and me. She had a surgery for removal of that detected cancer — early stage, thank God — but her age (83) causes serious concerns to us, when considering the added challenges with her Alzheimer. We never had a history of cancer in our family until these two came up a few days apart.
Early morning on October 7, I went to the hospital. That was the day for my surgery, which was exactly fourteen days after I was diagnosed with colon cancer. Things unfolded in an amazing way on that day. First, I had not yet chosen the type of anesthetic for the surgery until I met the anesthesiologist half an hour before the operation. He reminded me about the two options offered to me prior and I felt comfortable to make my decision as I was walking to the operating room (OR). I chose to have the epidural one — great choice. In my mind, I thought that if my wife was brave enough to have had two of those for the birth of two of our children, why could I not have one?
My beloved wife was (is) with me throughout this process and she accompanied me to the OR’s door. That was the most dramatic moment — not easy. After we prayed and kissed each other’s goodbye, I entered the room. There were already 6-7 people waiting for me inside: the Doctors (surgeon, assistant surgeon, and anesthesiologist), several surgical nurses, and of course, an empty bed ready for me. At that moment, flashes of my life went through my mind very quickly. That was it — the big moment had arrived! I was at peace and never doubted God’s presence and care in my life, though. I knew about and felt it in my heart the power of the intercessory prayers being offered in my favour by my beloved family members, friends, and church members around the globe. Then, when I noticed that somehow the “surgery team” was near the operating bed and before I sat on it for the anesthesia, I kindly asked if they would mind if I could pray for the surgery — for them and for me. They stopped respectfully and I offered a prayer thanking God for life, His presence in that room, for Him to guide the hands of the doctors and the “support team” for a successful surgery, and that everything would go according to His magnificent will. Peace flooded my heart in an indescribable way. Next, I felt a small pinch in my back, I laid down on the OR’s bed and I did not see a thing for the next two hours.
As far as I can remember, I was already in a recovery room when I opened my eyes. God showed His love for me again in a way that I do not deserve it. I was placed by the window in a nice room, the sun was shinning, and I could see some birds flying outside. Throughout my stay in that hospital, I was taken care of by “angels in scrabs”. They were always very kind, attentions, willing to help me, never impatient, resourceful, and they made sure I was comfortable. The food was good — I even ate mushroom soup! For many years in my life, I had never realized how lucky I was (am) even when considering “small things”. Just when I was facing some situations on the first two days like not being able to walk around freely, had to depend on someone to help me to be raised from my bed, not being able to grab things with my own hands, truly enjoy food after several hours, etc, made me reflect about the fragility of life. I realized that even to be able to go to the washroom and have my body functioning properly is a blessing on itself. Unfortunately, sometimes we just think about these more seriously when we are deprived from them. All those things made recognize that I am truly blessed by just having been able to do them by myself throughout my life!
God provided me unforgettable opportunities to share His love with many people I associated with during my five-day stay at the Abbotsford Hospital. I had the privilege to pray and share God’s love with every nurse who was assigned to care for me, my room mate, and the doctors, during the surgery and their short visits at my room after the operation. One of them was a bit skeptical, but I kept saying to him that lots of people were praying for me and for him during that time. He always avoided eye contact with me and simply nodded his head every time I mentioned that to him.
An unforgettable moment: There was a young nurse who I noticed that her eyes glowed after I simply said to her: God bless you! She asked me if I were a Christian and I answered yes. Throughout that day, every time she came to check my blood pressure, sugar level, my dressing, etc, I would prompt gentle words of encouragement and faith nuggets and she would ask me a short question about my faith and life experience with Christ. She would listen to me carefully as I shared with her my faith in Jesus and His love for me and everyone. At the end of that day, she stayed back nearly thirty minutes beyond her work hours, after the change of the nurses’ shift and came to my room just to ask me to pray for her. I noticed tears rolling down her cheek after I did that. Then, she said that she had experienced one of the happiest days in her life recently. God is amazing!
The assistant surgeon came to check on me on Monday late afternoon, October 11. As he noticed my recovery, he said that he was very happy about how I was doing and asked me if I wanted to go home on that day, two days earlier than planned. Before he finished asking me that question, I was already up from my bed and ready to go home to enjoy a “Thanksgiving Meal” with my family – Praise God! Then, I reminded him again that what happened to me was only possible because of the power of prayer, as there were hundreds of people in Canada and around the world praying for me and for him. He stood speechless, looked into my eyes, and then asked me: “Could you please ask those people to continue to pray for me?” At that moment I said a short prayer and thank God for allowing me to go through that whole experience. Yes, it was worth going through “that whole ordeal” just to witness for Him to the nurses, especially the one mentioned above, the doctors, my room mate, and be a “little light” for Him during that challenging situation. At the end, I realized again: Nothing happens to us without a purpose! When we humbly ask the Lord to use us for His glory only, we would better be prepared for His answers and the opportunities that He will place on our way to do that!
Next week, as I go for a follow up appointment at the hospital, I decided in my heart to write a letter of appreciation and deliver it by hand to the Abbotsford Hospital Administration. I want to express to them my sincere appreciation for the professional, caring, and dedicated service that their health care givers provided to me during my stay there. Also, I want to visit the unit that I was “treated with so much love”, if allowed, and bring a little something to the nurses of that station to simply materialize my gratitude for what they did for me. A grateful heart cannot remain silent – life is too short to miss an opportunity like that – especially for a follower of Jesus!
Finally, I am now carrying two scars in my body — one in my head and a big one in my “tummy”. Although the devil has tried to stop and bring me down twice, those scars are reminders of God’s protection for me and that His plans for my life prevailed. I can still share to others what He has done in my life and what He is willing to do for them, too. I am certain that there are other people out there who want to hear that!
Please find below the link to our Conference newest video: “Alrick: Coming Back to God”. Yes, His plan can always be fulfilled in our lives if we simply listen to His voice!
Please, let us pray for:
1 – Family Ministries’ Retreat & Training: Pastor Mike and Pam Tucker (Zoom) – this weekend. Please check our website for more info.
2 – Our Youth Retreat – next weekend. Please check our website for more info.
3 – That young nurse mentioned above.
4 – That Doctor also mentioned above.
5 – All patients in the hospital.
6 – The health care workers & hospital staff during this challenging time.
7 – A special request in our hearts – God will inspire you for that!
8 – Our BC Conference Board of Directors’ Meeting tomorrow.
9 – God to provide an opportunity for us to share His love with someone!
Thank you for your continuous faithful service to God’s Church and His children.
In His Service,