Testify the Blog


Life or Death? - Koko's Story

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KOKO 0293.jpg Remember that we have no more faith at any time than we have in the hour of trial. All that will not bear to be tested is mere carnal competence; fair-weather faith is no faith.

C.H. Spurgeon


Bright Lights                 

 

When we first saw Koko it was on a stage. She came out in bright lights before a crowded audience. They would applaud her even more after hearing her speak; in fact, after she delivered her testimony there would not be a dry eye in the house. We were having dinner at a fundraiser for the Pregnancy Resource Center. Koko was a dynamic and engaging speaker, incredibly vibrant, beautiful and composed. She was a young twenty something with big eyes that reflected wonder at what she was about to share, perhaps because she knew it was by the very hand of God that she was standing there and telling us her story. I confess that we were taken off guard because Koko did not appear to be pregnant. We were moved by what she shared that night and wanted to know more. Over the next few months we would spend time interviewing Koko and hear the rest of her story.

 

She grew up as a believer with loving parents in a Christian home, even went to a Christian college. Her parents did not just talk about their faith; they walked it out, right in front of her. For many years the family opened their home and their hearts to provide a loving environment for a number of foster kids, seeing each one as a child of God. Back then, her relationship with God was everything.

 

Giving her testimony Koko began to describe a series of events that take place in the lives of many young people. She had been living on her own and making choices that would deeply affect her life. Thinking she knew it all she made decisions that would lead her into a string of unhealthy relationships with people who were not the best influences.

 

The First Kiss

 

"The first time you kiss a boy it feels so amazing, so special.  And after that it just begins to feel normal.  It seemed that way with sex, too.  At first you can't even comprehend it.  The idea of having sex sounded like a weird thing to do.  And then, after the first time you get used to it and, besides, ...everyone else is doing it.   It made more sense to have one steady boyfriend rather than always meeting someone new and hooking up with different guys.  It was like, ...well, it's okay because we love each other. 

 

I was dating a boy in college that said he wanted to be in full- time ministry and we became sexually active.  I felt like this was a relationship I could trust. Then he ended up sleeping with my girlfriend and marrying her instead. After this rejection I bounced back into the arms of another Christian guy. With a Christian boyfriend it was easy to rationalize having sex if I believed we would eventually get married.   I thought to myself, "Was there any difference being involved with Christian guys or non- Christian guys?" Everyone was sexually active. 

 

Where Does This Go?

 

Fast forward a few years. Koko was now dating a young man and working in a high-paced environment for a successful real estate company. Between work and boyfriend, this lifestyle consumed all of her time, thoughts and energy. He showered her with love and attention. They had good times doing fun and exciting things. Every weekend was a party as he lavished gifts and attention on her. He made her feel special. On the outside everything seemed glamorous, but on the inside she began to struggle.

 

Koko was worried and felt anxious. Something was happening to her physically that was affecting her emotions. She began to have doubts and concerns about her future. Based on her past she wondered, "Where will this relationship go?" knowing she had missed her period.

 

 

A Year of Change

 

"January 2009 I said this is going to be my year! And on January 6th I found out I was pregnant." I said, "Oh wow! New Year's Resolution? This is not what I was planning! My immediate thought was to make this disappear."

 

Her mind raced as she tried to figure out what to do. At this point she believed keeping things a secret was best.

 

"I knew my family would be super supportive, but I didn't want to disappoint them." I did not want my friends to find out that I was pregnant, and with no ring on my finger." This was hard enough for her to deal with; she could not imagine how things would be if this situation were brought to light. It was not a good time for a baby. She was young and her relationship with her boyfriend was anything but secure. Hoping that things would go away with a simple phone call, she made an appointment for an abortion and waited anxiously as the date was set for weeks away.

 

The Appointment

 

"The abortion clinic was booked and, so for two weeks I agonized over my decision, living daily with the secret. It just started to consume me as each day went by it became more of a torment. I'm not sure I can do this. I don't think this is the right answer." The façade of keeping it all together broke over lunch with friends when Koko discovered that everyone at work knew she was pregnant. At that moment, knowing she could not walk through this alone, she decided to call her parents. The scripture tells us that if we train up a child in the way that they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

 

"I phoned my family in tears and my dad came and picked me up. At home, we talked about my circumstances. My mom remembered hearing about the Pregnancy Resource Center at church, just the Sunday before. My little sister brought home a baby bottle that had the PRC info inside. It was to be used to collect coins for donation to the Center. It would prove to be more than just a message in a bottle. Koko's mother, Susie, wasted no time making the call. Her thoughts were racing as she wondered what Koko would do. She prayed that they would be able to give Koko some wise counsel. It was about 3:45 in the afternoon and the Center closed at 4:00.

 

The Divine Appointment

 

The founder, Jane Wahl, just happened to be the very person answering the phone that day. "Is there any way we can come in right now and talk to someone?" Koko's mom asked her. Jane must have heard the desperation in her voice because, although the office was closing for the day, she decided to stay open and took the appointment immediately.

 

They sat in the office as Koko told Jane the whole story. Jane listened with compassion and gently informed Koko that only two choices had to be considered today! Give the baby life, or not. The power of life and death was in Koko's hands. Would she keep her appointment for the abortion or not?

 

The Choice

 

It was the very thought that had been all-consuming to Koko. Many tears were shed and her heart was broken as she realized that the time scheduled for the abortion was just days away. No matter how much she had wanted this problem to disappear, she knew the difference between right and wrong. Between all her tears she could finally see the truth clearly for the very first time.

 

"At that moment I perceived that God had a much bigger and better plan for me and my baby." God tells us in His Word that He has plans for hope and a future, and this option of abortion would not be in my future. It was a miracle that the life of this child was saved only three days away from death.

 

Today is a new day and a different picture emerges. All things have become new. The baby, a beautiful little daughter with red hair like her mother's and her grandmother's, was born on September 7th at 5:15 in the morning. Koko is proud of the decision she made to give life.

 

Filled with joy she holds her newborn baby in her arms and gazes lovingly upon the small child's face. "She is the apple of my eye and I love her so much."

 

It is not easy being a single mom and raising the baby without a dad in the home. Like any good parent I want to give my daughter every advantage in life. She deserves to be raised in the same kind of loving home that was given to me.

 

Learning to walk by faith and not by sight, Koko has said to God, "Okay, Lord, I'm ready to face whatever you have for me and I am grateful for the love and support of my family.

 

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self controlled; set your hope fully on grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance, but just as He who called you is holy, be holy because I am holy. 1 Peter 1:13-16. 


Koko's testimony can be found on page 128 in TESTIFY the book.


Happy New Year!


 


Chosen for Your Glory - Jer and Kat

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KAT & JERRY D47C0109.jpg

JER

It all began back in 1968 when I thought it would be a good idea to get hit by a car, break my hip and femur so I could end up in the hospital and meet this cute nurse's aide named Kathy Kirwan. I fell in love during those twenty-one days in the hospital. We got married and started a family. Our first-born was Steve and eight years later came Joshua. I wish that I could tell you that our marriage was perfect, but I can't. We had our struggles and even a six-month break-up. Things were not going well and we knew we needed more. One day Kat and I decided to attend a little church in San Clemente, California. It was there that we both accepted Christ as our Savior.

Things got better as we attended church regularly and I cut way back on my drinking and cocaine use. For me it was a process that would take many years until I really got it and completely surrendered my life to God. I made a decision to stop living life selfishly and allow God to heal our family. From this point on we have never taken our relationship for granted. We realized how blessed we were to have and love each one another. This love gave us strength and helped us to endure through many seasons of life together. However...nothing could have prepared us for the diagnosis of stage four throat cancer.

KAT

When Jer told me that the biopsy was positive for cancer, I felt like time stood still! This was my love, my husband, and the man I have always affectionately called "my boyfriend." He had never been sick a day in his life. We both held each other and wept. That's when we cried out to the One who is in control and asked for supernatural wisdom. At that time I wrote on our family message board several things that God had put on my heart:

Love and serve each other!

Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus - do not waver!

Jer is indestructible until God is done with him - no fear!

Committed to trust God no matter what!

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!

We visually focused on these truths until it was all over.

Then began our cancer fast track. We walked through four surgeries, including a tonsillectomy, a porta-cath to deliver the chemo, a feeding tube in Jer's abdomen and removal of the suspect lymph node in his neck. The doctor told him that cancer never starts in the lymph nodes. It always begins somewhere else. Right after Christmas we began a heavy schedule of intense radiation. The radiation required us to go in five times a week over a period of seven weeks and that was not included chemotherapy. The battle between fear and faith would overwhelm me at times. That's when my dearest friends and the body of Christ would hold my arms up and those moments of fear would be replaced with the faith to carry on. I watched my husband, boyfriend, best friend quietly suffer so very bravely. I told Jer that Jesus and he were my heroes!

           

JER

I received prayer from all over the world, thanks to the internet and good friends who put out the word. I learned to seek God's presence continually as my faith turned to total trust in Him and His Word and He became my constant companion. One night a group of men came over to our house to pray for my upcoming PET scan, which would show if there were any cancer cells in my body. This is how that went.

My friend Jeff Cate called me and asked if some men could meet at our house and pray for me regarding the scan I would have the following Monday. Jeff and I had been talking at church about his victory over cancer. He recently was declared cancer free! As a result of Jeff's miracle he had formed a men's prayer group that go out and pray for people. I was honored to be on that list.

One by one, the men filled our living room. There were seven men and Gavin, Jeff's young son. We had a sweet time of fellowship before I shared exactly what was going on with me and about the upcoming scan. It was a very comfortable time since I considered each man there a friend.

I sat in our comfy little Hawaiian rocker and they gathered around me, laid hands on me, anointed me with oil and began to pray. There were many requests made unto the Lord. The Holy Spirit was asked to show up, and He did not disappoint. Someone in the group prayed that the Lord would give me dreams and visions about the scan. I really don't feel like I am a person that has spiritual-type dreams or visions, but once, in fact, years ago I had a vision that turned out to be very practical. It was regarding a stoppage in our sewer pipe. The Lord showed me in a dream the exact location and what the stoppage was. The next day I was able to cut open the pipe and pulled out a four-foot tree root, patched it up and never had a sewer problem again!

Well, on the night the men came over to pray about my PET scan, I had a dream. It was definitely different. I do dream quite frequently; however, they usually are either nonsensical or just kind of crazy, like, where did that come from? In this dream, I was sitting in a seat outside a type of arena. It had a wooden floor and was about the size of a hockey rink. Sprinkled on the floor was a substance like a mixture of sand and sawdust, and people were seated around the arena. My seat was at one end and there was a man sitting next to me explaining what was going on. I never saw his face. Suddenly at the opposite end of the arena there appeared a machine, very similar to a Zamboni, except there was a small plow mounted on the front. There were flames about one foot high shooting up in front of the machine, and the driver would plow the sandy material and extinguish the flames as he worked his way to the end of the arena. The man seated next to me explained that this represented a cancer scan and if all the flames are extinguished when the machine reaches the end of the arena that person would be cancer free. This run was for someone else, but I didn't know who. The machine got to the end of the arena, where a goal might be, and all the flames were gone and there was an announcement over the PA system, CANCER FREE! And everyone applauded with joy. Now it was time for my scan and the machine started out again at the other end of the arena and was working its way toward the goal. Flames were being extinguished along the way and it was looking good. When it got to my end of the arena the machine was having trouble keeping the flames under control. Just before the machine got to the goal, the driver jumped off and grabbed what looked like a half sheet of plywood. He began to scrape the sandy material onto the flames. He was working really fast and finally the last flame was extinguished. Suddenly there was complete silence and the lights went out. I didn't know what to think, and then a very authoritative voice, not from the PA system, said very distinctly, "There is no cancer in this man." I woke up and I knew God had answered that prayer. I couldn't wait to tell Kat, but it was 4:00 in the morning.

Later that week, my doctor called with the results of the scan. He said, "No cancer seen." It was just as God had spoken to me in my dream! CANCER FREE! Praise and honor and glory to the King!!

Kat and I were encouraged beyond any expectations that we may have had and truly felt so thankful for all the friends and church family that rallied beside us by bringing us meals, driving me to treatments, providing gas cards to help offset our expenses and most of all the many prayers that sustained us. We were blessed to become friends with a couple from our church, Donna and Dan. Donna went through the exact same treatment and supported us through our journey. I want to thank my wife, who is my girlfriend and best friend, for her unconditional love and support through this. I couldn't imagine going through this without her.

God spoke to me continually during this time. One Sunday morning at church I asked Him, "Why did my friend Jeff Cate and I have to go through cancer? His answer was very clear. "Because I chose you for My Glory." (John 9:1-3)  

I'm thankful I have been able to return to work. My girlfriend, Kat, and I enjoy riding our tandem bike, and I'm back surfing again. I recently received a second scan that came back clear. God has been incredibly faithful through it all, and as C.H. Spurgeon said, "I can thank my God for every storm that has wrecked me upon the Rock, Christ Jesus!"

 


carlos cano

Walking Through Fires

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FSCN0109.JPGJeff

 

In April, I was working on the Sierra Madre fire. It was an early-season fire that threatened surrounding structures. As a fire captain I normally run inmate hand crews. This time I happened to be on an engine. While fighting this fire I started feeling sick with a cough that wouldn't stop. We worked on controlling the fire for three or four days. When that was done I went directly to a twenty-four-hour clinic to hopefully get some antibiotics to make the cough go away. The doctor gave me a prescription. She also ordered a chest x-ray that would change the next fifteen months of my life.

 

My wife, Jill, reminded me that I had been coughing several months before with bronchitis and the cough never really left me. So, then, it was a done deal.

A Woman With a Secret - Minka

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minka0203.jpg

My name is Minka. I want to tell you about a secret that I have held in my heart for 78 years. I pray it will encourage you to never lose hope. God works in mysterious ways, His he destiny of lives, families, cities and nations? The Bible states that the prayers of a righteous man avail much. It also says "seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all other things shall be added unto you": I pondered those words and kept them in my heart. My life took a dramatic turn in July 2006.

I was born of pure Dutch ancestors. My father immigrated to America, followed by my mother, pregnant with me, and an older brother. My father worked on a dairy farm. When I was 1 ½- years-old, my sister was born. She was nine days old when my father drowned in a lake. With three babies, my mother, who had not yet mastered English, went to work for an elderly German farmer. Though she did not speak English, she spoke German as well as her native Dutch.

As children, we knew what it was to work - before and after school, from sun up to sun down. We hauled water, wood, and coal because those were the days of no running water, electricity, or gas in the homes. We picked potatoes, shucked wheat, corn and whatever else was planted that year. When I was fourteen, the man my mother worked for retired and she married another Dutchman. Together they started a dairy farm. Not only did he gain a wife, but three well-trained farmhands as well, who were good at milking cows.

When we graduated from eighth grade at our country schoolhouse we were told that high school was for city kids who had nothing else to do. Attending high school was out of the question for us: we had too much work to do. 

Introducing Testify the Blog

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This is my first official Blog post!  My goal in doing a Blog is to share parts of chapters from Testify the book. When you read or hear a testimony it creates an excitement to see God, "do it again." Please pass these amazing God stories on....and be encouraged...hope is on the way!
Appreciate your comments,

annie


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