Evangelism – or telling a story!
Life came to a shuddering halt; July 2016 two heart attacks; and life as it was known stopped almost dead in its tracks. Over the course of the next year and three operations I had nine stents inserted into my heart. Stents reopen and keep the arteries open for the blood to flow through the heart. (One of life’s great inventions.)
The surgeon called it ‘the full metal jacket’, but as a patient I knew it wasn’t enough, there was still something wrong; the aortic valve was damaged. A fourth operation confirmed the need for open-heart surgery. From being, a fully functional human being, it was now, a ‘just about functioning’ human being. The shuddering halt was almost complete, but I was still alive, phew! Everything to do with living was a challenge. Some months later confirmation was given that major heart surgery was needed, I was booked into a leading heart hospital. But then a new diagnosis was given, ‘You have prostate cancer and you are high risk’, great!
Both serious conditions, the heart seemed the main priority, but there was also a real need to treat the cancer. The cancer treatment was given priority. The heart is another story.
Statistics say 12000 men die each year from prostate cancer. I didn’t want it to be 12001!
I was challenged by being one of Gods men, saved into a new life by Jesus. After the diagnosis I was sitting in the pub one day when the landlord said to me he has trouble peeing. I told him about my cancer and advised him to go and get himself checked. I also felt that the Lord wanted me to do more.
I’m a Christian bloke who has cancer and with a living message of salvation; can I combine both, sharing the gospel message, whilst travelling with men who may have prostate cancer? My answer was YES. I had printed 150 leaflets sharing the fact that I had prostate cancer and that I was also a Christian bloke who had hope and a future in Jesus.
I was booked in for radio therapy treatment, five days per week for 44 sessions (2.5 months), and 20 miles away. Collected by a charity taxi service and transported to hospital; this is a shared service so the taxi always had others being taken for treatment. My companions sharing the taxi were having treatment for a variety of cancers, breast cancer, lung cancer, facial tumours. On many journeys I gave out leaflets and shared conversations about Jesus to those in the taxi. I also gave out leaflets at the hospital to those in the reception area waiting for treatment; in fact anyone who would listen, patients, the radio therapists, canteen staff.
I was humbled by the many responses, challenged by those who have no faith, and shared a common compassion with those who have cancer. Yes questions were raised about Gods healing, tears were shed, cynical words expressed, but cancer is the common denominator. Consequently there was the opportunity to talk about another common denominator – God’s love expressed in Jesus. Love with hope etched deeply within it.
I realised that evangelism is more than the sum of the parts. The message is of salvation and hope in Jesus, my condition doesn’t change the message. I share a common humanity with cancer sufferers whose lives have been changed by their condition. It can change again because the price was paid by Jesus.
Yes I’m an evangelist.
Image Credit: Ryoji Iwata