When I was twelve years old my bigger-than-life uncle asked me what I was going to do with my life. I call him “bigger-than-life” not only because he was a foot and a half taller than me, but he also seemed to be the voice of God when he said, “You should be a preacher. There is nothing better than telling others about Christ.” From that moment I dedicated my life to sharing the good news. Like my uncle, I wanted to be an evangelist.
By the time I was sixteen I was honing my skills calling would be sinners to repentance. Nobody heard those sermons unless they caught the echo on the edge of the woods. I was preparing for another time when God would place me in front of people to declare His message of salvation through Jesus Christ alone.
When I was twenty I enrolled at Moody Bible Institute with the intention of stepping into fulltime ministry after graduation. At twenty-three I waited for the doors to open to fulfill my calling to preach the gospel. The doors did not open as I expected them to.
I took my desire to preach the gospel to work with me. As much as I tried to manipulate conversations in order to share the gospel, I found that the best opportunities came in response to the questions others had for me like, “ Why do you believe in God?” or, “If Jesus is real then why doesn’t He just appear in front of me right now?” But the greatest opportunity to talk about Christ has come in the form of an answer to my own question, “Doc, why is it so hard for me to swallow?”
The answer was, “esophageal cancer.”
My two year (and counting) battle with cancer has created a tremendous open door for the gospel. It is impossible to separate my struggle facing a killer and my relationship with the Champion. And people listen. Almost everyone has been touched by cancer in one way or another. A daily struggle with a malicious intruder sharpens the focus on the finiteness of this life; eternity becomes more of a prospect than a theological concept. The great news is that Jesus isn’t just another support group, He is life itself.
The message is simple: The big C (Christ) is greater than the little c (cancer). There are more important things than quality of life, like eternal life. The apostle Paul summed this up in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to take a step until I can see three steps ahead. The walk of faith does not work that way. I want to leverage every bit of my suffering for the advancement of the kingdom, wherever and however that leads.
Two of my favorite verses are Jonah 3:1-2, “Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” After Jonah finished running God came back with the same call from chapter 1, “Go and preach the message…” Jonah obeyed and led the greatest evangelistic campaign in the Old Testament.
I don’t know where this will take me but I am using every means at my disposal to declare the message of salvation by grace including print, social media, public speaking and whatever door God opens.
David Christensen is the author of Son of a Gunner, spiritual warfare in everyday life. He and his wife, Marsha, home schooled their three daughters in southeast Wisconsin where they currently reside.