Biblical Faith – Part Four

Biblical Faith – Part Four
God has already given you a measure of faith. You do not have to ask, beg or pray for faith. What you have to do now is develop the faith that you have. The measure of faith is like a muscle. To develop a strong muscle, you need good food and good exercise. Feed your faith with the Word (Matt 4:4) and exercise your faith daily (Jam 2:17). Receive the Word and apply it, otherwise you will become a fat Christian (eating with no exercise)!

Constantly exercise your faith
Never, ever find yourself in a position where you are not exercising your faith for something. Constantly feed and exercise your faith. “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says.” Mark 11:23 . Believe you have received it when you pray, not when you see it.

Head faith versus heart faith
The devil has ‘hoodwinked’ the Church and given us a substitute for faith. It looks like faith, it sounds like faith and few people can tell the difference. It is called mental assent! (Head-faith). This means that you simply agree that something is true but fail to act like it is true. Many say they ‘believe’ everything about the Lord Jesus. They say they ‘believe’ that the Bible is true, yet they are not trusting Him or His Word for anything today. This is not faith but mental assent. The Biblical word for believe is the Greek word ‘Pistevo’ which means ‘to adhere to’, ‘to cleave to’, ‘to trust in’, ‘to have faith in’, to ‘rely on’. This does not mean that you simply agree that something is true but that you become one with the truth you have received, and act, speak and behave like it is true.

You avoid mental assent by being a doer of the Word
Isn’t it strange how people will act on the word of husband, a lawyer, doctor or a wife and yet won’t act on the Word of God? Man could lie, but God cannot lie. “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” When you pray believe that you have received.

The faith man thanks and praises God for it when he prays because he already believes he has received. The Kingdom of God is internal to external.  “He (Abraham) did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.” Rom 4:20  Praise is the highest expression of your faith, it is the voice of faith. Abraham received God’s promises and believed that he already was the father of many nations. Often when we physically experience the hardship of a circumstance it becomes increasingly difficult to exercise faith. This is where the fight takes place. Abraham was fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was able to perform. He had no children and was 75 years old; yet God called him the “father of many nations”. Abraham believed the Word of God ahead of his circumstances. Strong faith may be defined as “being fully persuaded that what God has promised, He is able to perform”.

How to have strong faith
Strong faith does not wave/stagger at the promises of God through unbelief. The difference between Abraham and Thomas in terms of their faith, was that Abraham believed God apart from physical signs, but Thomas believed the physical signs and would not believe the Word. Thomas believed his five senses. Abraham believed the Word. When circumstances contradict the Word, reject the circumstances and go with the Word. Paul shows how these principles of faith are demonstrated in:

1. The woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:21-34)
• This woman with a debilitating illness heard about Jesus (faith comes by hearing the Word). She believed if she touched Him, she would be healed. She believed before she saw. Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” Therefore we need to believe before we see the results.

2. David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17)
• David, despite the fact that he was only 12 years old, did not look at the size of the giant, and did not put his faith either in his own weapons or his own abilities, but lived and fought by faith in God. He lifted his eyes and trusted God for the victory.

3. The man whose friends let him down the roof to Jesus (Mark 2:1-5; Luke 5:17-20)
• Jesus was preaching the Word and such was the friends’ faith that they lowered the man through the roof when they could not enter the room. Jesus forgave the man’s sins, and then healed him. When Jesus saw their faith, He healed the man. Faith has bulldog tenacity. When you are trusting God for something in your life, no matter what comes your way, hang onto God’s Word until you receive it. Just like a bulldog will keep holding onto whatever it has bitten into until it wins that prize, keep trusting in God and holding onto His promises. If you diligently seek Him, He will reward you with the fulfillment of that promise.

4. Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52)
• When he hears Jesus is on his way, Bartimaeus begins to shout for Him. Through opposition, he continues to shout louder. He was going to receive what he desired. Jesus heard him, called for him and healed him.

In closing, don’t give up believing in God to fulfill His Word when your circumstances show otherwise. Faith is believing the unseen. To build your faith, read the Word, consume the Word, believe the Word and act on the Word.

Jesus Healed Them All!

Jesus Healed Them All!
Christians are often confused when they try to match what they have been taught with what they read in the Bible. The Bible clearly states that “Jesus healed them all”, yet often, instead of the ‘healed them all’ Scriptures, Christians can only remember the Scriptures that seem to point to Jesus’ failure or inability to heal or perform miracles.

A dilemma of understanding
This dilemma between the ‘All-powerful Jesus’ and the Jesus who ‘could do no mighty works’ is simply one more in the list of ’traditions of man’ that keep the sick from being healed.

When everything goes right and the sick get well, everyone is happy. When things don’t go right, people start looking for answers. And if an answer is presented, it is often quickly accepted without investigation. In today’s religious world, there are few ‘Bereans’ that will search the Scriptures to see if what they are told matches the Word of God.

  As ministers and representatives of Jesus Christ, we have a responsibility to accurately and truthfully represent Jesus. That means we can’t say what we want to or just repeat what we have been told by others. We must only say what Jesus has said and/or what He would say (which would be in alignment with what He has said).

Jesus used absolute words like: whosoever, whatsoever, all, anything and nothing. In the area of healing, Christians use words like sometimes, maybe, if it be Thy will, etc.

Do you make excuses for failure?
A general rule of thumb is that you never analyse your victories, just your defeats. A good indicator of your honesty toward the Word of God is how you deal with a failure. If you are ‘standing on God’s Word’ for healing and the person dies, how do you react? Do you go on quoting Scripture and ‘speaking faith’ or do you revert to excuses. The same excuses you were taught, but can’t be found in the Bible.

Faith and the Will of God
Another indicator is how you react after ‘praying’ for the sick and seeing no apparent change. Maybe you have learned the Biblical way to minister healing by commanding the devil and his works to depart (note: we are not commanding God to heal, we are commanding the devil to cease his operations), yet after doing so, nothing seems to have happened.

What do you do? Do you revert to the old non-biblical (and even anti-scriptural) method of looking for some hidden or unconfessed sin in the sick one – or worse yet, some sin from past generations.

Two things are important here: First, get it settled in your heart that what you are doing is the Will of God. Second, once it is settled, pray the ‘prayer of faith’ which is a prayer that states the end result that you are desiring in the form of a statement or command. This is not praying to God, it is representing God before man. It is ‘praying’ for the sick like Jesus did. He commanded. He never spoke to God about someone getting healed.

A true picture of Christ’s power
Jesus healed everyone that came to Him and sometimes He even went to people specifically to heal them. Apparently it was always God’s will to heal those who came to Jesus, and even more amazingly, they all had enough faith.

Not once did He ever tell anyone to keep their illness or to confess their sins (or the sins of their ancestors) before He healed them.

One Scripture even says He healed all that had need of healing. Several times it says He healed multitudes. Even in the oft (mis)quoted verse about His not being able to do mighty works in His home town, it says He healed everyone He laid hands on. In Acts, it even says that the disciples “healed all”.

For more on these topics be sure to visit our website and attend our upcoming meetings.

How Do You Know There Is a God?

How Do You Know There Is a God?
One of the great Church Fathers, Augustine of Hippo, in what is universally recognised as one of the most influential books in History, ‘Confessions’, wrote concerning God: “You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.”

A God-shaped vacuum
Millions of frustrated people are trying to fill their hearts, minds and souls with everything except God. The resultant depression, disillusionment, despair, sense of meaninglessness and hopelessness, have become pervasive. Mental disorders and suicides are extreme examples of mankind’s failure to find meaning and purpose in life apart from God. There is a God shaped vacuum in each one of us. We are created by God and we are created for God. Nothing can fill that void, except the eternal Creator.

Man’s frustration
You cannot substitute Coca Cola for petrol and expect your motor vehicle to still function effectively.  Many people try to find fulfilment in fame, fortune and fun but the end result is always frustration.

Astronomer Dr. Robert Jastrow, a former Director for space studies at NASA, wrote in ‘God and the Astronomers’: “Strange developments are going on in astronomy. They are fascinating, partly because of their theological implications, and partly because of the peculiar reactions of scientists.”  The discovery that the universe had a beginning has been most shocking for Darwinian evolutionists.  As English astronomer Arthur Stanley Eddington declared early in the 20th Century: “The notion of a beginning is repugnant.” That is hardly an intellectual reaction, but rather an emotional one.

Life and laws in the universe
As Jastrow observed: “The scientists have scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

‘Cosmos, Bios, Theos’ (the Greek words for universe, life and God) is a monumental book from 60 respected scientists, including 24 Nobel Prize winners. The co-editor of the book, Yale Physicist, Henry Margenau, concluded that there was “only one convincing answer” for the intricate laws existing in nature. And that one convincing answer is: “Creation by an omnipotent – omniscient God.”

Atheism is irrational and unprovable
Atheism is irrational. Atheism is a universal negative. It is impossible to prove. No one can possibly prove that there is no God in the universe. To do that they would have to be all-knowing and everywhere present.  Every effect must have a sufficient cause to account for that effect.

We see proof of intelligent design everywhere. Every day and every night.“The Heavens declare the Glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day they utter speech and night unto night reveal knowledge.” Psalm 19:1-2

Evidence of the Creator
We see evidence of the Creator’s design everywhere. For example, the human eye contains 400 million cones, 300 million minute fibres and 50 million tiny nerves called rods. Every one of these millions of cones, minute fibres and rods adjust themselves automatically so that we can see a full range of colours, in intricate detail, from both near and far. The Bible contains more than 2000 specific prophecies which predicted events which have already been fulfilled in detail. There is no close parallel in any other writings on the face of the earth. 

An intelligent wager on truth
French scientist Blaise Pascal proposed what has become known as Pascal’s Wager. Pascal logically demonstrated that it is more intelligent to risk your life on God’s existence than to bet against it.  For, if there is no God, or eternal life, and we simply cease to exist when we die, then we have lost nothing by having believed in God.

However, if there is a God, so that at death, Believers go to Heaven and unbelievers go to hell, then there is absolutely everything to lose, from gambling that God does not exist. Pascal concluded that no intelligent person should fail to see this. Christians have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Atheists have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

The Philosophy of Meaninglessness
Aldous Huxley, the famous 20th Century humanist and evolutionist declared that atheism allowed for sexual liberation. By rejecting belief in God unbelievers could embrace “the philosophy of meaninglessness” and be freed from the old moral restraints. In ‘Ends and Means’, published in 1937, Aldous Huxley wrote: “For myself as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation…liberation from a certain system of morality.

We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom;…the supporters of this system claimed that they embodied the meaning (a Christian meaning they insisted) of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and at the same time justifying ourselves in our political and erotic revolt: we could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever!”

Justifying Immorality
Those who reject God often have a very selfish reason for doing so. Normally to justify their sinful lifestyle. Bertrand Russell, one of the most prominent advocates of atheism in the 20th Century, was also a flagrant adulterer. He said that his atheism freed him up to his erotic desires.
The Lord Jesus declared: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matt 18:6

Hostility to God and His Law
It would appear that many who are fighting against God, against the Bible and against any public expression of Biblical ethics, such as public displays of the Ten Commandments, are doing so because they themselves are living in sin and breaking many of these Commandments.

“The fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God’.  They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.” Psalm 14:1

Darkened Hearts
Romans 1:18-32 summarises today’s cultural war and the emotional reactions it evokes. Those who reject the knowledge of God and are not thankful to God, evidence darkened hearts and turn to idolatry, immorality and perversion.

For most people, their passionate rejection of Christianity and embracing of atheism has nothing at all to do with facts of science or history. Rather, it is often an emotional reaction to justify something in their own lives. As Russian author, Dostoevsky wrote: if God did not exist then everything could be permitted.  Historian Will Durant wrote: “The greatest question of our time is not communism versus individualism, nor Europe versus America, nor even the East versus the West; it is whether men can bear to live without God.”

Secularists exclude God
And that, of course, is exactly what secularists are trying to achieve. They are trying to exclude God and His Word from educational institutions, from political institutions, from the judiciary and from the national news media.

Atheism cheapens life
However, atheism makes life cheap and it deprives life of any meaning or significance. Atheism also deprives life of freedom. Those who declare that there is no God also teach that there is no such thing as your mind. It is just the brain that secretes thoughts like the liver secretes bile. They teach that you have no real control over the brain bile that you ooze out. In ‘Beyond Freedom and Dignity’ B.F. Skinner concluded that we are biologically determined in absolutely all that we do, we therefore have no dignity and no freedom, and we are not responsible. As we have no real freedom, we have no real guilt. Richard Dawkins suggests that Christianity is a ’mind virus’.

God has and will endure forever
However, in historian Paul Johnson’s book ‘The Quest for God’, he writes of ‘The God who would not die’:  “From one perspective – the perspective of human spirituality – the most extraordinary thing about the 20th Century was the failure of God to die. The collapse of mass religious belief, especially among the educated and prosperous, had been widely and confidentially predicted. It did not take place. Somehow, God survived, flourished even. At the end of the 20th Century the idea of a personal, living God is as lively and real as ever, in the minds and hearts of countless millions of men and women throughout our planet.” “He has put eternity in their heart.” Eccl 3:11

H.G. Wells is best known for his science fiction books such as ‘The War of the Worlds’ and his history book: ‘A History of the World’. In his classic short story ‘The Country of the Blind’, he writes about a tribe of people living in a large valley. 

A story of man’s blindness
A plague had rendered them all blind and this blindness was passed onto their children, to their children’s children, for generations. For centuries the tribe had lived in perpetual darkness so that even the very concept and memory of sight had disappeared. They were cut off from the surrounding world by mountains. But one day, an adventurous member of the tribe tried to find his way over a high pass in the mountains. He slipped and fell a long way until at last he lay unconscious. Because the hearing of the people in the valley was acute, they heard his landing. 

Deluded and deceived
When they found the man and revived him they were astonished to hear him babbling about sight and colours. Something must have happened to his head when he fell because he was talking about things that obviously didn’t exist such as blue skies and colourful flowers. As he talked about his eyes, his vision, and what he could see, the people concluded that he was obviously out of his mind. He was delusional and the people put up with his babblings.

The source of the problem
As months passed the one seeing member of the community was affected by the beauty of the chief’s daughter and asked for her hand in marriage. Of course the request was denied. It just wasn’t right for the daughter of the chief to marry the village idiot. However, as the daughter felt sincere love for him it was decided that they could get married, as long as the man’s eyes were gouged out. As the man’s eyes were the cause of his problem, they could restore him to his right mind by removing them. Then he could marry the chief’s daughter. Incredibly, he agreed.

When the day approached for the surgery and he lay on the operating table, the man came to his senses, ran out and disappeared. Now, of course, this story is fictional. H.G. Wells was by no means a Christian. However, this story appears to be a most remarkable parable reflecting the reality of the world in which we live. 

Spiritual blindness
Because of the Fall and the depravity of man, the whole human race has tumbled into a valley of the spiritually blind. Because of sin, the natural mind is darkened, the will corrupted. Through sin we have lost our spiritual sight and our spiritual hearing. “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  1 Cor 2:14

So Sigmund Freud declared that all religions are either ‘psychosis or neurosis’. Secular humanists have worked hard to exclude spiritual reality from textbooks, films and news media, and to ridicule those who believe in God. The natural man is degenerate, depraved, sinful, lost, blind and spiritually dead. In a nutshell, the Bible tells us of generation (Creation), degeneration (the Fall), and regeneration (Redemption and Restoration). Jesus Christ makes all things new (Rev 21:5).

God is not hidden from us…
Those who reject God do so despite the witness of Creation. They reject Christ despite the witness of His Resurrection. They reject the Holy Spirit even when He convicts them of their sin. And then they protest: Where is God? Jeremiah declared that the people had apostatised from God. They worshiped false gods, defied the Laws of God and when His Judgement inevitably fell they asked where God was! “A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord.” Prov 19:3. God is not hidden. He has been revealing Himself in Creation, through our conscience, and in and through our Lord Jesus Christ. Our sin makes God seem hidden. However, just because a blind man doesn’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
PETER HAMMOND is a missionary, Bible-teacher and author. For more information, contact:
021 689 4480;; or email

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Darlene Zschech: Bringing God’s ‘Hope’ to Rwanda

Darlene Zschech: Bringing God’s ‘Hope’ to Rwanda
Darlene Zschech is a world-acclaimed singer, songwriter, worship leader and speaker, most notably for her involvement with Hillsong in Sydney. She has achieved numerous gold albums and her songs are sung in many nations of the world, and Darlene’s success stands as a testimony to her life’s passion to serve God and people with all her heart.

A passion for helping others
As a songwriter, Darlene is perhaps most famous for the chorus ‘Shout to the Lord’, sung by an estimated 25 – 30 million churchgoers every week and has been covered by at least twenty other artists. But now Darlene has a new passion in life: to bring hope to the people of Rwanda, through her ministry, HOPE: Rwanda. Darlene says that she does not want the world to forget that during the 100-day genocide in 1994, over one million people were killed and hundreds of thousands were brutalised and displaced.

Serving God from a young age
Darlene has a long history of walking with the Lord and recalls how, “at the tender age of 15, I committed my life to the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ. Since that moment, His plan for my life has continued to unfold as I have learnt daily that Jesus is both my Lord, and also my best friend. My passion for worship really started to develop from the moment that I got saved. Once I had become a Christian and really met Jesus, my whole understanding of why music was even there, started to change, and I’ve been on that journey, discovering freedom and integrity in worship, for many years now.”

Worshipping from the heart
But worship was not always Darlene’s passion. She confesses: “I didn’t want to be a worship leader. I love being in the background arranging, recording and producing. But, one Sunday, Pastor Brian Houston was leading worship and he just walked off and left me in the middle of the service. At the time I had no confidence when it came to leading worship.

One thing I do know, however, is that through worship, and through learning how to love my God with a whole heart, through that process, the walls of my heart have softened, and I just want to worship my God in Spirit and in Truth.”  How did ‘Shout to the Lord’ come to be written? “I’ve written about this story so many times, and it still takes my breath away as I was not going to the piano to write such an important song,” she said. “I went to worship my God when I was at the end of myself! I opened my Bible to the Psalms and started to pray and to play and within about 20 minutes, ‘Shout to The Lord’ had been composed.”

Darlene’s love for people
But it is not just worship that occupies Darlene’s heart. Together with her husband Mark, the children of war-torn Rwanda fill a massive space. She explains, “In April 2004 my husband Mark and I went on a Compassion trip to central Africa to visit two of our sponsor children.

It coincided with the ten year anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda when, in 1994, over one million people were literally slaughtered in a one hundred day period.

The genocide was recent enough that every Rwandan was affected by it and many people were still grieving for their family and friends that were lost. There was definitely an air of sadness wherever we went. In a country of eight million everyone has been affected by it one way or another. I remember one day going into a bank.”

A new mission is birthed
“The teller was this beautiful young girl who had one arm and a huge cut across her face. It was very obvious in talking to her that she had been brutalised in the genocide. You cannot help but be impacted by that.”

“When we visited some of the memorial sites and encountered the people there, we had definitely under-estimated the impact of the genocide. We flew from Kigali straight to Nashville in the USA for the Gospel Music Awards.

You couldn’t get more of a dichotomy! But we had about 36 hours of flying so Mark and I had a very long conversation about Rwanda. We had a real conviction in our hearts. Both of us knew we had to do something and it had to be significant.”

A day later in Nashville, we were at a Gospel Music Association breakfast. But my mind was still miles away in Rwanda, and I began having a conversation with God. I knew we couldn’t have that experience and not question the why. I felt God say to me, ‘Now that you know what the problems are, what are you going to do about it?’ I said, ‘Lord, but we are just two people – what can we do?’ I sensed we needed to do something much bigger than us. Then I felt God prompting me to look around. I saw all these influential people in the room and realised that they could do something too. Suddenly, it all fell into place.

Remembering the forgotten victims
The Rwandans refer to the genocide as ‘the time the world forgot us’. We often talk of the Church leading and influencing our world. What Mark and I saw was how we [the Church] could lead the charge in this emotional, cultural, spiritual revolution of Rwanda.”

After launching HOPE: Rwanda, the couple went on to hold The 100 Days of Hope (April 6 – July 15, 2006) project that was strategically co-ordinated to cover the same 100 days that saw approximately one million people viciously slaughtered.
“A framework for our HOPE: Rwanda 100 Days of Hope was that it would cover the same days of the anniversary of the genocide,” says Darlene. Over the same days as the anniversary of the genocide, we would orchestrate as many of our friends as we could to go into Rwanda and just do what they do. In those 100 days our aim was to put hope in – to fill Rwanda with what was 100 days of horror with 100 Days of Hope.

The Church working together for an impact
The project was called a Global Church Mission and was about the Church working together and having a major impact. The concept was that everyone can bring different elements to the table. We had national events, as well as city-wide, regional and provincial events, each with specific programmes associated with them. So there were quite a few layers and a fairly comprehensive structure. We were looking at everything from evangelism to care, to teaching farmers how to get better results from their block of land, to worship, to leadership, to micro-enterprise, to immunisation to literacy.”

I asked Darlene to share about some of the projects that HOPE: Rwanda is now involved in today.”  HOPE: Rwanda is still operating and we now are being more effective than ever before,” she said.

Committed to long-term change
“We are committed to the long-term sustainability and development of this beautiful country. Many of the initiatives that started in the ‘100 days’ are still operating and growing. For example: The Village of Hope. This was a God-idea to meet housing needs of widows and orphans of the genocide or of HIV/AIDS who were living in appalling conditions to give them more of a dignified life. In 2010 there are 26 homes with 26 families in them, most of these widows have taken on additional orphans into their houses, because they want to bless as they have been blessed.

Rebuilding a nation
And there are plans for more homes, a community centre and school to develop the area and meet the needs of the community. Also, the HOPE: Rwanda education team has trained over 1000 teachers on a three year pathway to be teacher trainers. And now we are working with the Rwandan Ministry of Education to develop the English curriculum teacher training materials to re-train 31 000 Rwandan teachers in the next two years to teach in English, and are also training the Ministry’s district inspectors and tertiary institution lecturers.” These are strategic nation-building endeavours that have grown out of the initial ‘100 days’ event in 2006.

An overwhelming effect
“There are many more examples of this in our other projects as well.”
And how has her ministry in Rwanda affected Darlene as a Christian? “My heart is actually still completely overwhelmed,” Darlene says, “but I have learned that people are people – with the same kind of dreams, same desire to live a life of some sort of eternal value, mums want their children to flourish, dads want their children to be educated, immunised and fed more than once a day. The basic cry of humanity is the same – we all want to be loved and valued. But so many on the earth have to fight each day just to survive, rather than live, and we are desperate to be part of bringing the answer.”

How you can get involved
According to Darlene there are many ways that you can get involved in this worthwhile cause. Firstly:

Please see our website for more info:
Join our e-mail list through a link on our website, which includes invitations to join various teams to go to Rwanda, and information about how you can be involved both at home and in Rwanda.
Become a monthly partner or donate.
Share the vision with others and pray for the people of Rwanda.

Dear God, they say it’s Cancer!

Dear God, they say it’s Cancer!
I have lived in Ghana, West Africa, for the past five years until May 2010 when we moved to Zambia. We moved to Ghana because of my husband, Ian’s, job. Because we were going to Ghana, I went for a full medical check-up, and this included a mammogram. To my horror, I found out that I had stage 2 breast cancer and was facing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation! By this time it was only about two weeks before Ian was due to leave for Ghana. He would be with me when I had the surgery, but it was with a sinking heart that I realised that I would have to go through the chemotherapy and radiation without him.  

Afraid and alone
I would love to tell you that I was very brave and ‘just knew’ that God was going to come through for me, but I can’t.  When I sat with Ian in the oncologist’s office 10 days after the surgery, and she started to go through the list of side effects my chemo would have, I started to cry, and cried on and off for two days. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me! Other people got cancer…not me. But then I remember thinking, “Why not me? Why should it happen to other people and not me?” I was even in too much of a state to be grateful to God at that point that the good news was that the cancer hadn’t spread to the lymphatic system. In fact, if we hadn’t been going to Ghana, I don’t think that I’d have gone for a mammogram at that time and I only had about six months, maximum, before it spread under my arm to the lymph glands.

God works all things for good
What was even more amazing was that Ian had been retrenched six months previously, and unless he’d been retrenched, we wouldn’t have gone to Ghana, and therefore had those medical tests. It has been absolutely amazing to me how God works all things together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

The cloud of chemotherapy
What scared me the most was the chemo (almost more than the thought of death). I couldn’t sleep and my last thought at night, and my first thought upon waking, was “chemo”…like a huge, black cloud pressing down on me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so isolated before. I have a very caring family and wonderful friends, but the more they tried to encourage me and say that it would all be okay, the more desperate I felt, because how did they know I was going to be okay? They weren’t the ones facing chemo! And what did any of them know about cancer anyway? 

Finding comfort from the Lord
Sometimes, I’ve found, you just have to hear from God for yourself, as nothing else can bring you any comfort and peace…the kind described in Philippians 4:7 where it says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard (garrison) your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”. One of the things that really concerned me was the fact that my oncologist had told me that 10% of people who had my type of chemo were left with permanent heart damage. She said that they didn’t know why and had no way of predicting which patients would be affected in this way. In desperation, two days before Ian was due to leave for Ghana, and four days before I was due to start chemotherapy, I shut myself in my bedroom, knelt next to my bed with my Bible open, and begged to God to speak to me. 

My eye fell on Psalm 121:7, “The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life.”  The words leapt off the page – I just knew that God was telling me that my heart would be okay and wouldn’t suffer any adverse effects from the chemotherapy! God’s comfort and peace was so real and His voice so clear, that my tears dried…for good.

Not ready for the change
Although I knew my heart would be okay, I was still desperately afraid of the actual chemotherapy and wondered anxiously exactly how sick I would be. I had heard such stories and was actually quite unable to look up and read anything about cancer on the internet.

People told me to read Lance Armstrong’s book, ‘It’s Not About the Bike’, but every time I peeped nervously into it at one of the bookshops, I’d slam it shut thinking, “I’m not ready for this…too much information!”  (I did read it a year or two later and really enjoyed it.) The night before my first chemo, I went into my bedroom and again asked God to speak to me. This time my eye fell on Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”  (What I didn’t know that night, was that the needle used to administer the chemo would always go into the back of my right hand!)  This time that overwhelming feeling of fear and helplessness lifted and for the first time I felt able to cope. 

God takes detailed care
On one occasion during the radiation treatment I’d been really scared by a particularly gruesome cancer story that someone in the waiting-room had thoughtlessly told me. For the first time since I’d started treatment, I felt weepy and terrified again. While I was driving home from the hospital that day, my cell phone rang. It was my father, phoning to find out how I was. I knew he had enough on his plate worrying about my ailing mother, so as usual I told him that I was just fine. “No, Aldyth,” he said, “I was praying for you today and I felt compelled to spend some extra time in prayer for you. Something is wrong and I want to know what it is.” Can you believe that during all those months he should have made that phone call at that precise moment? Well, of course, I burst into tears and told him what had happened and he prayed with me right there – the fear lifted and I felt comforted.

My life today
It’s now five and a half years since my cancer diagnosis. My heart is fine and my health is good. The years in Ghana were some of the happiest of my life, and I was able to really rest and recover there, in a way I wouldn’t have done if I’d still been teaching in Johannesburg. God had known what was coming and had lovingly arranged the circumstances of my life for the good. And the wonderful thing to remember is that there are no favourites with God – He cares about the circumstances of your life too! 

To Save a Life

To Save a Life
It’s estimated that depression strikes one out of eight teenagers and that up to 39% of teens have at least one episode of self-injury every year. Tragically, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death amongst 10 -19 year olds.

Ipods, laptops, social networking and computer games all gear teens toward a lifestyle of isolation and alienation. And many parents, themselves trapped in a rat race with no spare time, live alongside their teens, unaware of the struggles their children are going through.

Dying to be heard
Peer pressure today is at such intense levels, that children as young at 7 years old are teased for body image and their social status (or lack thereof). Schools no longer retain the right to enforce discipline, and often the teachers are poor role models, so kids are  taught in an environment intrinsically hostile to Biblical norms (which prioritise the correct individual and societal moral values).

Jim Britts, an American youth pastor and graduate with a film degree, recognised the dire need for teens to be able to talk about their problems and an imminent priority of the Church – to seek and save the lost.

Through his work with hundreds of teens, Jim realised that many are trapped in a world that rejects them, and that without sincere and caring friendships, these teens are at risk of hurting themselves (and others) just to be seen. (The Columbine School Massacre in 1999 was the first of its kind that devestatingly illustrated this pandemic).

A film with a message
Jim decided with his wife to pen a screenplay and a book called ‘To Save A Life’ – not simply as a story, but hopefully as a movement that will inspire change and save others from pain and untimely death.

Drawing on years of counselling experience and creating characters based on real people, in real situations, Jim wrote a moving script. He is passionate about the mission of this movie: “At some point, every teen has to decide: ‘What’s my life going to be about?’ To Save A Life dares to bring that question into their world, encouraging them to answer it with boldness, honesty and Christ-likeness and to put love into action around them.”

Reaching teens in a relevant and authentic way
Centred around an all-star athlete and the angst of being at school, the film deals with issues such as social divisions, school violence, cutting, suicide, teen pregnancy and divorce. The film is written and presented in a very authentic manner, with a strong Gospel message about the One who can save us for ever – Jesus. According to Jim, “This is a hurting generation in need of hope and friendship”. ‘To Save A Life’ depicts life on a high school campus and demonstrates the ability students have to make a difference to those who are hurting. There are several key  characters, all dealing with their own insecurities and challenges. All needing to be saved. All needing Jesus.

First up is Jake Taylor. He has it all – friends, fame, a basketball scholarship and the most desirable girl in school. What could be better? Enter Roger Dawson. Roger has  nothing. No friends. No hope. Nothing but constant rejection. Ironically, Jake and Roger were best friends when they were younger – Roger even protected Jake in a life-threatening incident. However,  the politics of high school quickly pulled them apart and now Roger doesn’t fit in to Jake’s or anyone else’s circle. And he’s had enough. He walks onto campus with a gun in his pocket and pain in his heart, and makes a tragic move that will alter the lives of the students forever. Jake’s last ditch effort can’t stop Roger, and the sudden tragedy rocks Jake’s world. Something breaks loose inside and causes him to question everything he knows to be true.

A life-changing experience…
Jake can’t shake the all the questions, and especially the guilt. The memories taunt him and the plaguing question, “could I have saved Roger?” plays over and over in his mind. In a quest for answers, Jake finds himself looking for the next Roger and reaching out to the outcasts and the lonely. But he quickly finds that crossing the class-castes threatens all that his world is built on. Jake’s decision to try and save a life could cost him his friends, his girl, his dreams and even his reputation. As Jake searches for meaning, he finds guidance from Chris, the local youth pastor who presided over Roger’s funeral. Without preaching to him, or judging him, Chris challenges Jake and invites him along to the local youth night. There Jake starts to find some of the courage and the purpose he needs to make a difference and save another Roger from a tragic end.

Speaking the language of teens
What makes this film unique is it’s gripping sincerity. It doesn’t offer trite Christian answers, and neither does it portray people and situations in a ‘cheesy’ way (that has often become the hallmark of Christian films). The characters grapple with certain Christian clichés and the plot narrative is not sugar-coated. Perhaps this is why teens and parents are responding in an unprecedented way to the film.

Youth groups have grabbed hold of the movie and used it for outreaches. Ministers have allowed the film to predicate honest conversation between troubled teens and pastoral leadership, thereby shifting church activities in a relevant direction. Parents have watched the film with a new understanding of what their children are going through. And most importantly, teens are realising they are not alone in their struggles and that there is help out there for them.

Dr Steve Gerali, a clinical psychologist and family counsellor, feels that the film addresses critical issues facing youth today. In the past, a ‘troubled teen’ was easy to spot, and usually came from a dysfunctional family upbringing. But today, children of all ages, from varied socio-economic backgrounds are affected. He notes: “Kids today lack hope…they don’t know what or who to trust, because the media has lied to them. Even the churches they attend don’t offer hope.”

Parents, you need to take note!
Acccording to Gerali, parents need to engage their kids more. Youth ministries need to instruct parents on how to reach their children. Technology becomes a medium that allows teenagers to participate in inappropriate behaviour, which it turn provides them with faulty coping skills. And parents are the frontline for combatting this decay.

Grounding your children with Biblical values and an intrinsic self-worth founded in Christ, will go along way to helping them navigate the perils of popular culture. Also maintaining an open and approachable relationship with your children will facilitate honest conversation that has the potential to literally, save their lives! The worst thing parents can do is close communication lines between them and their children through intimidation, busy-ness or a superior attitude. In a survey amongst teens who had either attempted cutting or suicide, or were contemplating it, the number one need all expressed was the freedom to be  honest and ‘real’ with their parents.

It is challenging to be both parent and friend, but the Lord shows us how when He says: “A gentle answer turns away wrath” and “a kind word in season is like apples of gold in settings of silver”.

‘To Save A Life’ is a significant film that is worth seeing and will provide a perfect platform for life-saving conversations. Purchase the DVD in CUM stores, or subscribe to JOY! this month only, and receive the DVD for FREE! See Page 2 for details.