07 January 2007

The Monday Challenge

On New Year's Eve, I received some stunning news. Johnny, a good friend of mine at church, told us that he had stomach cancer. It was a stunning revelation. Johnny has been a real help to both Jenny and me, guiding me into a position of leadership at church and donating quite a bit of money to Jenny's clinic.

He was the closest person to me that has ever gone through cancer treatment. My grandmother on my mom's side died of cancer when I was three, but I have no memory either of her or her ordeal. I've lived a charmed life for 36 years, one might say.

What is interesting about this experience with Johnny is the kind of church we belong to--an environment where Christ's love permeates everything from worship to fellowship to interactions in the parking lot. Immediately after we heard this, we called Johnny up to the front of our classroom, we all laid hands on him, and we waited for the Spirit to summon prayers of hope from each one of us. I cried. It was an incredibly emotional experience.

On New Years' Day I pondered what to do about Johnny--how I could be a spiritual support for him as he undergoes a month of chemotherapy. I felt impressed to fast for him. Tuesday, I lengthened my worship, instead of eating breakfast. Whenever hunger pains struck, I replaced the thought, "I need food," with this prayer: "Johnny needs healing."

It must have worked. The report from the radiologist on Friday found that the cancer hadn't spread outside the tumor in Johnny's stomach--quite the miracle. Now he will undergo treatment at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for the next four Mondays in January, trying to get the tumor to the size where doctors can remove it completely.

I plan to fast for him every Monday in order that my spirit can strengthen him in his weakness--and that God's healing may be ever certain. Johnny is about 70 years old. He is very active--only retiring this past November from a 30-year career as a political fundraiser for the likes of Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Ned McWherter and Phil Bredesen (the last two were Democratic governors of Tennessee).

I would appreciate your prayers on his behalf. If you have any experience with fasting, I would love to hear about that, too.

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