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THE DEATH SENTENCE
In mid-1984, Greg began to cough and simply could not stop. A doctor ordered a battery of medical tests, and soon they discovered he had lung cancer. Greg agreed to surgery and had his left lung removed. He thought his troubles were behind him.
In December, four months later, Greg found himself back in the hospital with the same surgeon. This time, Greg had a lump on the base of his neck. The cancer had spread through his lymph system. The surgeon decided that the cancer was too advanced, and there was nothing they could do.
The next day, the surgeon came into Greg’s hospital room and told him some words he would never forget. “Greg, I don’t know how to tell you this, but the tiger is out of the cage. Your cancer has come roaring back. I would give you about 30 days to live.”
At that moment, Greg and his wife, Linda, prayed. People at their church began to pray. Greg says that prayer was always a part of his life; he believed intensified prayer was the answer and the key to unlock health and healing. But even during times of prayerful fervor, Greg says he failed to establish a constant and ever-deepening intimacy with God.
Physically, Greg was deteriorating.
“At one point, I was down to 112 pounds. My skin was ashen gray, and I was on morphine to ease the pain,” says Greg.
Soon, he could see his thin wrists where many tendons and bones were sticking out. Greg thought, “I guess I am going to die.” During these moments of self-pity, Greg would plunge into despair and hopelessness. Fear crowded his faith. The downward spiral engulfed him. Not knowing what to do, Greg instinctively prayed the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father, who art in heaven…”
Sometimes in the middle of the night, Greg would walk outside and ask God what exactly he could do.
“I wondered about God’s silence,” says Greg. “In some of those lonely moments, I would seriously question the existence of God and wondered about the depth and power of my faith.”
Greg believes it was the silence that kept him turning back to God. Even though he did not completely understand it, Greg simply continued to pray. Something in the prayer touched him and one morning, determined to find it in the Bible, he opened up to Matthew and began reading.
“I was determined to understand more,” says Greg. He didn’t have to read far – there it was in Matthew 6.
The next morning, Greg prayed the prayer again. “It’s 20 years later and I continue,” says Greg. He says it has been the central point of power in his recovery from his almost-certain death sentence from cancer. Since 1989, Greg’s medical records state: “This patient is clinically free of any signs of cancer.”
OPENING DOORS – THE LORD’S PRAYER
Greg says he hated his earthly father. Recollections of his youth were not pleasant because Greg’s father berated him constantly. As he grew older, Greg says he and his father seldom spoke. Later as a teen, Greg’s dad was committed to a mental hospital. In college, Greg went through psychological pain and depression. He found relief through alcohol. It was not until getting cancer 20 years later that Greg became aware of what he was doing to himself.
At one of his lowest points during his cancer journey, Greg says that Linda helped him understand how he was blaming both his earthly and heavenly Father.
“Cancer opens many doors,” says Greg. “One of the most important is your heart.”
When Greg understood and accepted his father’s limited relationship abilities, there was a change. “No big reconciliation took place,” says Greg. “Yet the shift in my attitude brought about real change for me.”
Whenever he shares his message, countless numbers of people speak of the hope and healing found in the greatest prayer of all. Greg says there is comfort and “sense of the known” found in a ritual prayer. However, he says that healing and victory is found when we take the “Our Father” promises way beyond the bounds of a ritualistic prayer.
HOPE FOR OTHERS
After his diagnosis, Greg and Linda started local cancer support groups in hospitals and churches. They kept expanding, first 100, then 200, 300 and more.
Today, you can learn more about Greg's cancer recovery ministry at his Web site: www.cancerrecovery.org.
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.