Jeremy…husband of Catherine, father of Ben, Simeon, Tom, Joshua & Lydia. Up until the end of April 2015, he was pastor/vicar of a group of churches on the edge of Exeter in Devon, UK. In early October 2014, aged 48, he was diagnosed with advanced cancer, a stage four malignant melanoma presenting as a tumour on his lungs. The usual life expectancy is 8-12 months. Then, in late December 2014, 23 year old Ben suffered a seizure. After prolonged medical care for what was most likely to have been a viral infection affecting his brain, Ben died in April 2015. Jeremy has up until recently seemed to have responded well to pioneering immunotherapy treatments that can extend life, but from September 2016 is now facing the fresh development of brain tumours and potentially now just months to live. On January 27th 2017 Jeremy took his last breath and went to be his Lord and Saviour. The family share their thoughts, feelings and reflections as they taJeremy…husband of Catherine, father of Ben, Simeon, Tom, Joshua & Lydia. Up until the end of April 2015, he was pastor/vicar of a group of churches on the edge of Exeter in Devon, UK. In early October 2014, aged 48, he was diagnosed with advanced cancer, a stage four malignant melanoma presenting as a tumour on his lungs. The usual life expectancy is 8-12 months. Then, in late December 2014, 23 year old Ben suffered a seizure. After prolonged medical care for what was most likely to have been a viral infection affecting his brain, Ben died in April 2015. Jeremy has up until recently seemed to have responded well to pioneering immunotherapy treatments that can extend life, but from September 2016 is now facing the fresh development of brain tumours and potentially now just months to live. On January 27th 2017 Jeremy took his last breath and went to be with his Lord and Saviour. The family share their thoughts, feelings and reflections as they take this painful and unexpected journey.

rough seasPart way through Psalm 42 it reads, “…all your waves and breakers have swept over me”. There are times when those words feel like ours, and this week has been one of them with deep troughs like an open ocean. With what seems like one difficulty after another to face, we’re feeling pretty tired and very much hoping that there’s not too much more round the corner.

Sitting with Ben last week, he thumped his head down on his pillow and exhaled in tired tones, “I’m so bored with all this”. He’s reached a point – almost a tipping point – where he’s become so frustrated and weary with his perceived lack of progress that it’s getting him down and robbing him of the willpower to keep going. Whilst he can be quite lucid and clear, confusion appears regularly in his speech and his thought processes. His ability to walk and do many normal things seems both to him and us to have flat-lined. It leaves us all, Ben particularly, feeling at times overwhelmed and anxious as to both where it’s all leading and how much progress we should expect. Even on Monday, taking him from the rehabilitation centre to the main hospital for a specialist appointment and an MRI scan, it was a wheelchair all the way from when we arrived in the hospital carpark. The prospect of standing up out of the car and swivelling into the wheelchair was almost too much for him. I can’t help but compare him to the younger Ben who loved practicing ‘parkour’, urban free-running, jumping across walls, rolling over obstacles and climbing nimbly over fences. Having now got to this point of stalling improvement, we want to invite as many as possible all around the world to join with us in a weekly day of Prayer and Fasting on Mondays for the next four weeks (or whatever day suits you) for Ben. It’s something you can do from where you are and as you go about your day, either skipping a meal or two and using it as a time for prayer and particular focus, or spending regular spots each hour, lifting him before Father and asking for some breakthrough.  We simply feel that something needs to “budge” in his situation, and would be so grateful and encouraged to know that a concert of prayer to Father in Jesus’ name, was going up for him, for us.

While we live with the ongoing apparent lack of progress in Ben’s situation, our plea to the Home Office for a changehome-office in Dabi’s immigration status is now at a crucial point. Having sent off a pack of letters, reports and supporting statements a week ago via special delivery, we heard on Monday morning from London that they had not arrived even after seven days. I processed the news feeling quite anodyne about it, but possibly because there was a deeper mental process going on causing a strange combination of despair and steely resolve, almost a “bring it on…what’s one more thing to deal with?” going on in my head. To add to it, the message about the missing post came just after Simeon had received some very difficult information in that morning’s mail which open up some big issues that’ll need my involvement to help him sort. Within a short time however, the message came from London that the missing post regarding Dabi had in fact just arrived. It’s now been sent to the Home Secretary and will be considered by the relevant official as a matter of urgency. We simply hope that with Ben so unwell and needing his wife with him, there’ll be some compassion shown to her, to them both.

Living with the implications of early retirement has hit us in different ways in these last few days as we variously feel at peace about it and struggle to make the figures work financially both for our house purchase specifically and ongoing living costs. Struggle StreetThey often say that buying and selling homes is a stressful thing. Mix it with an unexpected retirement, and we don’t wonder why we have a cocktail of emotions that come and go. Wanting to explore further options, we’re seeing the Church of England Pensions Board Housing Officer later today, but even that doesn’t present any easy alternatives. It sent me on something of a downward spiral earlier in the week. “How is this going to work?”, I thought. A benefit I thought I’d be entitled to (equivalent to the state pension which is only payable on retirement at 67) I now discover is not available as it’s means tested – my early-retirement church pension would wipe it. However, I’ve always seen ‘retirement’ for the Christian (ordained or lay) as being spelt ‘re-tyre-ment’ – a new set of tyres and on a new track, still serving Jesus Christ, but in different spheres. Life serving Jesus for the Christian never finishes, and that while my health allows and I’m able, I can hopefully take on some lighter ministry and other things. Catherine’s already got her eye on the possibility of a Saturday job in her favourite shoe shop in Exeter, to go alongside her full-time weekly Teaching Assistant role. It’s all been a strange thing…when you know something seems clearly to be the right thing to do before God, and you even feel you’ve been led to do it, so there are still those moments when we struggle with the implications. I guess I see that in the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as he struggled with what was to come in the hours ahead on the cross…‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ There, Jesus’ humanity was struggling with the implications of where his divine nature, where Father, was leading him…just in the same way that any follower of Jesus can struggle in lesser things with the call and leading of God, despite knowing it’s the right path. Catherine has been such a rock to me, so much so that when I was at my lowest this week, she picked me up, encouraged me and on Monday evening as we sat on the sofa together, prayed for us both. But it all came at the end of a few days when I’d been on the verge of going back to the hospital due to some signs of a possible change in my condition – signs which seem now to have eased – but signs that regularly have me wondering if I’m standing on the equivalent of Mt Nebo. That was the mountain on which Moses stood as he looked across, beyond the Jordan, to what was to be his people’s new land – Canaan. But it was a place he himself would not enter, as he died before they entered it. 

In the middle of this though, there have been some wonderful signs of life, of Father’s goodness and the future which continue to spring up. Last Saturday, Josh and I had a great day together exploring God’s call on his life as he and I spent time at Moorlands Christian Theology and Training College near Christchurch, Dorset for their Open Day. We both came back full of excitement and seeing a potential next step for him there. We met with some amazingly supportive staff who understood that Josh would perhaps come to them in September next year, but who also understood the implications of my illness on him and what it might mean for him in the future.     

The previous day, it was wonderful to have two friends from Exmouth, Benedict and Ian – both pastors – come and spend anointing-oilpart of the day with me, to pray for me and anoint me with oil. Ian, from one of the New Frontiers family of churches, wonderfully reminded me of the lavishness of Father’s goodness as he draped a towel over my shoulders and then poured – and I mean poured – a beaker full of oil over my head as he prayed for healing, for God’s anointing and blessing. No half measures. “Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over”. I sensed as they prayed, as the oil seeped through my hair, down behind my ears and over my face, that if I’d had a cup to collect it, it would have overflowed. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”  (1 John 3:1)

On Thursday week, I receive the results of last week’s crucial CT scan. In the meantime, I journey on and even if breakers and waves do sweep over me, I know that my Redeemer lives and that He once stood on the earth and walked on the water. He one day will again stand upon the earth and continues to walk on the waters – the waters of my troubles and fears – and that keeping my eyes on Him, I’m prevented from going under, but more than that, we can know His peace.

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Comments on: "Waves, breakers…and hope" (16)

  1. Sarah Pollard said:

    Yes Jeremy & Catherine, I’m right behind you all as a family 👪 & i will be fasting & praying for the next 4 Mondays & get my prayer friends to pick a Monday too . Big Hug & love ❤ Sarah xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ruth Ramsbottom said:

    It will be a privallege 🙏will be fasting and praying on mondays

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Jeremy, Catherine & family, I will gladly join you in prayer and fasting over the next 4 weeks. Much love to you all xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll be there too – thinking of you all

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rosie King said:

    Hi Jeremy

    Just came across your BLOG by accident
    Your situation has touched the hearts of many – with your humility sincerity and profound faith
    Please be assured of our sincerest prayers for you and your wonderful family
    We will gather as many members as possible from our little church in Ireland to fast and pray for Ben and You on Mondays.

    Remember
    Healing is already an accomplished work. First Peter 2:24 says,

    “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed

    God wants you healed Jeremy and Ben – he wants you well

    we just need a pure pure faith that isnt negated by unbelief

    “Daughter your faith has healed you
    Go in peace and be freed from your suffering”

    Blessings and Lots of Prayers Jeremy going across the Irish Sea to you and your family

    Rosie and Ben King

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Rosie & Ben. It’s great to know your support and prayer from across the sea! Those words from 1Peter you quote have often been a comfort to me as the healing Jesus ultimately brings is of course the restored relationship between us and God offered to us through Christ’s ‘stripes’, through His death. Beyond that, healing comes in many forms, and the best healing anyone could have is ultimately to go to be with Him. It’s great that even faith as small as a mustard seed, when focused on Jesus, is able to access this amazing power, love & life!

      Like

  6. Lisa Smith-Paterson said:

    My Mondays will be for Ben & you all, keeping you all in my prayers. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Peter and Cynthia Hinton said:

    We shall certainly join in fasting and praying, for Simeon also.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Susannah T said:

    I will happily join in with the Monday prayers and fasting. Wishing peace for you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Caroline Cook said:

    Hi Jeremy & Catherine. I can’t stop thinking of the words from that old hymn written from tradgedy: “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrow like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot it has caused me to say it is well it is well with my soul.” Caroline x

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Our prayers will continue each day – with special emphasis on Mondays! Your comment re Mt Nebo reminds me of an old hymn you may never have heard that has the refrain, “O Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land,
    As on thy highest mount I stand,
    I look away across the sea,
    Where mansions are prepared for me,
    And view the shining glory shore,
    My heav’n, my home forevermore! (Edgar Stites)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lorraine Williams said:

    from your Scouse sister Lorraine.
    Remember the Alpha talk on Prayer which says Your answers tp prayer are just around the corner and the enemy knows it ….so keep on going….. don’t give up

    Four of us are fasting and praying today

    Blessings and Love to you

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Val Parkinson said:

    Glo, Lorraine & myself met to pray for you all today,. We will keep on praying & fasting whenever we can.
    Keep smiling, God Bless
    Much love
    Val x

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pam Horne said:

    Hi Jeremy,
    My name is Pam, and from St. Marys church Upton.
    You are an amazing true man of God, and after having been healed from a hopeless situation myself, from fasting and prayer, from a great friend Gloria, and many prayers from all St. Marys ( all of whom are fasting and praying for you too) ! May Gods healing power flow through you and your wonderful son Ben. The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
    God Bless you both.
    Love Pam x

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Chris Saunders said:

    Hi Jeremy will join you in prayer and fasting for part of Wed. (NZ time)!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Rev Simeon DAMDAR said:

    Our Dear Jeremy and Catherine, Tearfully, we thank the Lord and Master of our Lives for your total relinquishing your self-will into His “All guiding and protective WILL. We pray that the Lord would guide the IMMIGRATION Officers to be positive and grant the required status for Dabi. Reflecting on the many deep Insights you shared…You may have dimly seen the shadowy distant Mt Nebo across the Jordan from Jericho. But we also climbed the Mt of Transfiguration where Peter saw Moses and Elijah even though he, Peter did not live and seen Moses at that time of History at Mt Nebo. But still recognized Him so many centuries after….”We shall know as we are known”…. And Jeremiah…yes Jeremy, Jeremiah spoke to the Nation of Israel in those dark and painful time of their History, and we appropriate those promises now..”For I know the Plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.Jer 29-11. NIV. Thanks Jeremy for being a Great Blessing to many, even at a time when others would or want to curse God and die….Shalom to you., Catherine and all the children and Lydia……Lovingly, Simeon and Dharamdai.

    Liked by 1 person

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