I think most of you receiving this letter are well aware of the events that transpired over the last several months. In a moment, I will fill you in on the events, praises, and prayer requests regarding my brain surgery.
First, I would like to fill you in on some other things. Our 3rd baby girl arrived on our anniversary – what a gift from the Lord. She’s a healthy, sweet, growing baby girl, and given how sweet she is, I know she didn’t intend on cramping our future anniversary celebrations 😉 – I’m only kidding – well, just a little bit…
Before my brain surgery I was either filling in for pastors or for churches without a pastor. I’m so thankful for the opportunities the Lord gives me to preach. I know I’m not worthy and feel so blest when He uses me in that way.
There is so much I could tell you about the story that you are about to read that would add depth to the praise of the Lord, but I’m afraid that words on paper would diminish the depth. There is so much that transpired that I still have no recollection of and am only telling you because I was told or read about it afterward.
At about 3AM on a Friday morning I was awakened out of a dead sleep and sat straight up in my bed with a thunderclap headache. I laid back down and it happened again a little while later. Thinking that meningitis was a possibility, I went into the ER only to find the headache had diminished to just a dull ache by the time I saw a doctor. They sent me home, but the headache was jarred into full force on the way home from the ER and I went back to the ER in the middle of the next night.
The doctors put me on medications and conducted a CT scan and MRI to find that I had a dermoid tumor/cyst in my frontal lobe. This is a tumor that is composed of skin cells and was formed while I was in my mother’s womb. This tumor had burst and was leaking onto my brain causing swelling of the brain (chemical meningitis). I guess I’m the 45th person worldwide to actually develop dangerous symptoms from it. The neurologist in Jackson ordered that I be taken in an ambulance to Detroit in order to have the tumor surgically removed. In my mind I’m thinking “Can’t you just give me some medicine and I’ll have surgery for it later. After all, I have family vacation, and am transitioning into the busiest time yet for our ministry in evangelism. I have a camp meeting to preach at, a revival to preach in, Beth has our teen girl’s camping trip at our church to organize and run, and then we were planning to offer ourselves to help out a local church for about a month”. But, the doctor told me that the insurance might not cover any future expenses associated with the surgery and that I could go blind or die if I didn’t get it taken care of. I know that it’s ridiculous of me to be convinced to comply when she started talking about medical bills, but that’s how it all played out.
Needless to say, though the Lord saw to it to book us for over 2 months straight of ministry in evangelism, He then saw to it to cancel EVERYTHING on our schedule. I don’t understand it. I don’t feel that I have to understand why God would do that. I just accept it and thank God for it.
Once we got to Detroit and had further testing we found out that the tumor was crowding my optic nerve (which explained the intense pain/pressure in my eyes and the fact that I could hardly open them), and that it was also sitting on my pituitary gland in my brain (this is the main gland for the endocrine system which regulates your body’s hormone levels). The risks associated with the tumor were brain damage, blindness, inability to walk, and death, and the risks of the surgery were basically the same.
I find it amazing that I’ve had this slow growing tumor my entire life, and during this life I’ve been in different economic situations and in different parts of the country and world – yet He decided to allow it to cause problems at a time when I was covered by insurance, and at a time when I was very close to a world-renowned neurosurgeon team. Imagine if this happened while I was in China. Imagine if I would have disobeyed God’s call and stayed in China, or imagine if I would have went back even though He called me into evangelism. Things could be much different for me now.
On Tuesday, July 11th, the doctors began a 6 hour surgery that took 8 hours. They were able to remove 99% of the tumor and it was tested to be non-cancerous. Praise the Lord! These tumors have a tendency of growing back, but they are slow-growing. So, I will have to continue to get MRIs to check the status.
Like I said, there’s much that I have no recollection of, particularly after the surgery. I remember laying in bed and wanting to express thoughts, but not being able to form words or phrases that made sense in my mind. In this I wondered if I would ever be able to preach again, but the Lord gave me calm assurance in this. I’m not quite there, but I’m very close to being able to preach again – praise the Lord! Oh, there’s so much I could say. Suffice it to say that if you saw what I was when I came out of surgery and saw me now you would be in praise of the power of the God that heals.
During my recovery I lost a lot of weight (for me) from both fat and muscle. It was difficult to eat, and I began to literally waste away. Praise the Lord I’ve gained about half of it back. Most of the time I had my eyes closed, but at about the time I was able to open my eyes for a length of time, I contracted shingles in my eye and on my face, which also threatened to take my eyesight. The virus has healed, but there will be some long-term nerve damage from the virus. After the surgery I was on a high dosage of very high levels of opioids. Praise the Lord I never became addicted to them. There are so many more things that I could say, but I guess I could summarize it by just saying “God’s been so good to me”.
Through all of this my wife has been a trophy of grace. She had her hands full in taking care of a newborn and taking care of her husband. She had her heart full of aching from watching me going through all that occurred, and missing our children that we had to be separated from. Yet, through all this, God’s grace was poured out on her and she was purified to the finer.
While performing the surgery the doctor had to cut the nerve for smelling in order to reach the tumor. Therefore, unless God performs a miracle akin to the healing of the blind, I will never again be able to smell. Please be in prayer that I will regain strength and energy. As the tumor was sitting on my pituitary gland, it seems like there have been some ways in which it has affected my hormone levels. Please pray that the doctors can diagnose and figure this out, or that the Lord just resolves the issues. I’ve always had short-term memory issues, but they are much worse now. Please be in prayer for recovery from this. Every once in awhile I have grammar/vocabulary issues that are a result from the tumor or brain surgery. Please be in prayer for this. Please also be in prayer that God would put more meetings on our schedule.
In closing, I want to testify of the grace of the Lord. He could have taken my vision, but He didn’t. He could have taken my ability to walk, but He didn’t. He could have taken so many other things, but He didn’t and I’m thankful for that. Throughout this trial God’s grace has been poured on me to accept the fact that I am just a vessel of the Lord and He could do with me whatever He desires. My body is His. He purchased it with His own blood so He can take from me whatever He desires. I know He’s my heavenly Father and only wants what’s best for me. I know that the purpose in all this is so that I would be purified to the finer. I may not be able to smell. I may not be able to see as well, think as clearly, remember as well, or have as much energy, but I feel like I’m the most blessed man alive. I have 3 beautiful little girls, and a wife who is my soul mate. I’m saved, on my way to heaven, and I know that one day I will get to see my Savior face to face. I am blessed beyond measure!