by Robert Earl Houston
This has been a whirlwind of a month. In the matter of hours, I’ve had to make some decisions, make some moves, do extensive planning, in order to deal with this infirmity. It has had collateral effects upon my wife, my family, my extended families – First Baptist Church (Frankfort), Westwood Baptist Church, University Center (Nashville), and my network of colleagues, hometown friends in Portland, and those who I have ministered to across the country – especially in Portland, Fresno, and San Diego.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness, generosity, phone calls, prayers – especially the prayers. A pastor called me from Macon, Georgia yesterday and said, “Pastor Houston, you don’t know me, but I know you through the years from the internet and your blog. I just called to encourage you and to have prayer with you for your healing and restoration.” As he prayed, the tears rolled down my face and I told the Lord thank you placing me upon his heart.
So tomorrow is the big day. Barring any complications, the doctor’s plan is to excise an amount of skin, down to the fat layers of skin, about an inch or so in diameter, where the original cancerous cells were discovered. Then she will graft skin from my torso into that area, requiring sutures in both areas. The skin removed will then be processed in the pathology lab to see if the melanoma is just superficial (best case scenario) or if it is further in and deeper down (worst case scenario).
We are praying that it has been caught soon enough to be limited to a superficial exposure. If it is further, then the possibility of (very worst case scenario) of spreading to bone or lymph nodes. However, my doctor is very optimistic that this is not the case.
Today the phone has already been ringing off the hook. Received calls from the surgeon’s office, the hospital pre-admission staff, the nursing staff, and the anesthesiologist’s staff. Yes, I truly have a medical team!
I’ve tried to be transparent in this process to help us as a people. I am a man of faith, live my life by faith, give by faith, preach by faith – and my faith teaches me that trials and tribulations may affect me but they won’t disturb my faith in God. If my transparency can encourage someone else, then God gets the glory, not I. I’ve been encouraged by watching the example of ministers who were going through their season of illness and by their stance of faith, it is like a rewind button, and I hear their voices in my ear – Dr. Melvin Von Wade, Sr., Dr. Hayward Wiggins, Dr. O.B. Williams, Dr. T.L. Lewis, Dr. E.K. Bailey, Dr. Charles Booth, Bishop Rudolph McKissic, Jr. – whether recent or some years ago, I remember that the attack upon the body did not diminish or decay their preaching.
I’m even looking forward to my return to the pulpit. Obviously that date has yet to be established but I am thankful for the leadership of First Baptist Church – Dea. Alonzo McCoy (Deacons), Bro. Gus Ridgel (Trustees), Rev. Anna Jones (Assistant to the Pastor), Sis. Pat Ross (Secretary), Ministers Timothy Taylor and Pamela Lawson-Black (Lead Associate Ministers), and others who are committed to doing the work of the Lord and holding things together until my return. As I said Sunday, when a pastor is ill and going to be out of the pulpit for hours or weeks, it is not a “church holiday” – all hands have to be on deck to continue the mission of the Lord.
Tomorrow is now less than 24 hours away. I’m asking you to pray for me, my wife, my church family, and my medical team. I’ll blog when I can . . . and in the words of the song, “There will be glory after this . . .”
Your comments are welcomed . . .