I met this dear lady and her husband 2 years ago. They had come to our church to help us with our VBS. Bro. Bellamy taught Sunday School the Sunday before and gave his testimony. In it, he mentioned how his wife getting cancer allowed God to work something big. He said these words that touched my heart and I have them written down in my bible, “Watch what God can do.” – Bro. Bellamy 7-14-16. Those words might not be much to someone else, but God encouraged my heart with their testimony and seeing just what God DID do in their lives through a difficult situation. Just recently, I was able to talk with Mrs. Beverly about her cancer ordeal. She might not know this side of Heaven how much it affected me, but God knows! Thank you, Mrs. Beverly for your prayers and for sharing your story with me.
Hello, my name is Beverly Bellamy and it is an honor to be asked to write this for Mrs. Faith. I just pray that God will use something that I say to be a help and a blessing to someone.
Before I get into my story let me tell you just a little about who I am. My husband, Jeff, and I are missionaries with Rock of Ages Ministries. We have been with them for 16 years. We help oversee the ministry to the public schools here in America and around the world. These last 16 years have had many ups and downs. The one I want to share with you is about when I was diagnosed with colon cancer on April 9, 2007. This was just as the school ministry was really growing and God was really blessing. We were sidelined for almost a year and actually my first reaction was anger. I didn’t want to stop what we were doing. To say the least this was not in our plans, but God had other plans for us. I would like to share some of that journey and some of the things that God taught me during that time.
Whenever troubles and fears come our way I cannot stress enough to stay in God’s Word. We know from II Timothy 1:7 that fear doesn’t come from God. Paul tells Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” So if fear does not come from God, it must come from our enemy, Satan and all he wants to do is draw us away from God. Don’t let him! This is the time that you need to be as close to God as you can so you can have the peace that only He can give (See Isaiah 26:3).
When I was told that I had cancer I wasn’t sure what my future would be. Not that we ever really know what the future holds, but now the fear and uncertainty was there. However, thanks to a Christian oncologist and following her advice to search the Scriptures, God gave me a promise from His Word that I would come through this trial. That verse was Isaiah 58:8: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.” Although I had a promise that there would be another side of this trial it did not mean that it would be an easy road.
The first step in treating my cancer was surgery. I had approximately 14 inches of my colon removed. It was a difficult surgery, but with God’s help and the prayers of many Christians, I was able to go home two days earlier than the doctors anticipated. I then had to start six months of chemo.
The chemo was the worst part of the whole ordeal. I had a 48-hour infusion every other week for six months. I would get hooked up on a Tuesday morning and would be unhooked on Thursday afternoon. I did get to go home at night with my chemo pump in a little fanny pack. (Just a side note: we had a cat at that time and just to show how bad the chemo meds were she would not come anywhere near the little black bag.) As we all know chemo has some pretty rough side effects. What surprised the doctors about me was not only did I have all of the possible side effects but had each of them to the extreme. The nausea alone was so bad that I was on two nausea medications continually during these months as well as another very potent nausea medicine reserved only for chemo patients which I took on the days of my treatments. Even with all of this my best friend was a little green trash can that never left my side.
But God already had plans to teach me during this time. That was the year that Rock of Ages printed their first Study Bibles. I got mine during my third treatment. I started reading in Genesis and read all the way through Revelation during the next few months of chemo.
One verse God used to help me was Nehemiah 8:10b, “. . .for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Many times troubles and trials that come our way are to grow our faith and strengthen us as Christians. Where do things grow the best? It is in the fertile valleys not on the rocky mountain tops that the best crops are grown. As God spoke to my heart with this verse I studied more of that chapter. In it you see a hunger from the people for the Word of God. You also see the priests and Levites helping them to understand the Word. We as Christians have the Holy Spirit living within us to give us understanding but we have to ask for His help and then listen. God taught me to focus on Him and the blessings that I still had from Him and to look for the silver lining in my dark cloud.
Again, let me urge you to stay in the Word of God and let it minister to you. Have a dictionary nearby and be sure you really understand what you are reading. I think it is more important to read one verse and it really speak to you than to read an entire chapter and you have no idea what you just read.
As I said earlier, God gave me Isaiah 58:8 as a promise. There were days that I was so sick I couldn’t hardly speak much less do anything else. Those days I would just lay in bed and cling to that verse as I prayed and asked God to help me to continue to trust Him. I would simply try to encourage myself with the “joy of the Lord.”
Then one day while having a pity party (yes we all have them) I was reading in my new Rock of Ages Study Bible. I read “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” (Ephesians 5:20). Jeff was sitting beside me and I remember this verse drove deep into my heart and I looked at him with tears in my eyes and said, “I have to thank God for cancer and chemo.” I never will forget that moment. If you study that verse in context the thankfulness is a product and the result of being filled with the Spirit, and I so wanted to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit. However, I knew that I wasn’t because at that moment I wasn’t thankful for cancer and chemo. But with God’s help I did reach that point.
Did I quit having pity parties? No. I still have those but I must admit I don’t stay as long as I use to. I don’t like it there and I fight harder to get back to God’s joy. Would I go back and change anything if I could? No. The year 2007 was long and very hard. It took me most of 2008 for me to get my strength, stamina, and basic overall health back. But I am very thankful for that time in my life. Why? Simply because of the things that I learned and how I grew in the Lord during that time. I also had the chance to witness and minister to so many others not only during that time but also since then. Some of these people I would have never met had I not had cancer.
Do I still wonder why? At times. I still don’t understand everything. Here it is almost 11 years out and I am still pressing on with my husband in the ministry. However, since that time two other Rock of Ages missionary wives have been diagnosed with the same type of cancer and they are both now in heaven. Sometimes I get to thinking about why am I still here and they are not. I feel that they were both much godlier and doing a lot more for the Lord than I could ever do. But I have to realize that I am the one God left here, so that means He still has work for me to do. I just try my best to find what that is and simply do it.
Before I go I want to share one more thing with you. I also have fibromyalgia. I was diagnosed with it almost 30 years ago. This has always made my life difficult but recovery from the cancer treatments was harder because of this. When I first tried to get back into full-time ministry with my husband I found out that I just couldn’t do it. I became very frustrated. It was during this time that God taught me about being called to suffering.
We have all heard about people being called to the mission field and men being called to preach but the Bible teaches that we are called to suffer. Look at I Peter 2:21: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” It says we were called to suffer because Christ suffered and we are to be like Him. The previous verse tells us we are to take suffering patiently because it is “acceptable with God.” It doesn’t say it comes from God but He allows it. Just like with Job we will be tested and I think the closer we are to God and the more we do for His glory the more Satan will throw our way. But God allows it to grow us and strengthen us. It often is to help us see how strong we are in the Lord. God knows all of our strengths and weaknesses but sometimes we don’t really know ourselves.
Let me say that because of sin some things are just life. There is a curse on this earth and humanity, but when trouble comes your way and you know that it isn’t because of unconfessed sin in your life, then simply trust God and let Him teach you. These troubles and trials are simply part of the refining process to make us more like Christ. (See I Peter 1:7) Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to maturity. It comes through the “trial of your faith.” Christ is our example to follow. He never sinned yet suffered for us. Jesus suffered in two ways: As a human being, suffering for righteousness sake and for the sins of the world. The first is for our example, but the second is for our redemption. Shouldn’t we be willing to suffer if it will make us more like Him.
I pray that God uses this to help someone. I really didn’t know how to start this or what to say. I am not a writer but I just shared my heart and some of the hard lessons that I learned on my journey with God through a difficult time in my life. I still suffer from damage that the chemo did to my body as well as with the fibromyalgia, but I simply try to focus on what I can do and not on what I can’t do. May God bless you.
Mrs. Beverly and her husband, Bro. Jeff, are missionaries with Rock of Ages Prison Ministry located in Cleveland, TN. They are involved in Prison Prevention Ministry there that allows them to take the gospel into schools across the country and different parts of the world.