Never say it’s hopeless. There is no hopeless case in the presence of faith. This has fed my spiritual appetite as I write this article. It all started when I graced an invitation that has been religiously present on my office e-mail for the past few weeks.
It was an invitation for a prayer group meeting every Thursdays. I have been joining another prayer group during that same day in the office and felt that it’s no longer necessary to join another group. But then a friend advised me to connect with other Christians.
For the first time in six months, I graced that invitation and got the chance to meet other co-employees from another site who had their own Thursday prayer group meeting. I had the opportunity to know people from Lifeline Missionaries, a non-stock, non-profit, non-government organization based in Manila. I felt an instant connection with them. I just felt that I belonged as they spoke about Jesus despite their diverse backgrounds and spiritual struggles, unmindful of the fact that I was belonged to a different church.
It dawned on me that the Church is not a country club that only accepts exclusive members but it is the only organization in the world that has no membership requirements. Everyone is welcome to believe and worship Jesus.
But there has been a lingering inquiry as I sat there; I asked how Lifeline Missionary was able to reach out to the employees in our building. I was later told that the group was launched in 7 Philippines, the company where I worked, by one of its supervisors, Czei Zuniga. He had been inviting 7 employees from all sites for a weekly prayer meeting together with his own team, wife, and friends from Lifeline Missionaries.
The prayer meeting ended with newfound friendships with the members but I never got the chance to know the story behind how Czei and his wife Mhe-anne discovered Lifeline. The couple insisted that they’d take me home since we have the same route to our residences. I only got to learn about their story on our way home.
Rare and aggressive disease
It all started in October 2009 when their son Migs, was diagnosed with a very rare case of cancer of the intestines at the tender age of 10. It was called Rhabdoid tumor, one of the most aggressive and lethal malignancies in pediatric oncology reportedly attacking children ages 3 to 10. According to emedicine.medscape.com, it occurs only in about 5 to 10 children a year in the world. Migs has been the first child reported to have this fatal disease in the Philippines during that time.
It began when they discovered a mass on his urinary bladder. After getting a second opinion on the result of the biopsy, Migs was recommended to have an open surgery to remove the mass. The biopsy result showed five types of cancer after which the specimen was sent to the US for final diagnosis.
Mhe-anne recalled considering alternative medicine treatments and therapies for their son. Czei, for instance, purchased a fruit and veggie juicer and consulted Dr. Mateo Tam, a known naturopathy doctor, for supplements. These were all temporary treatments until they found out about FUDA hospital in China for the regional chemotherapy.
As recommended by various research and reviews, Czei and Migs went to China in February 2010. Since the tumor was removed, the 1st PET CT SCAN showed a good result and Migs was only given regional chemotherapy (which let him avoid hair loss) and immunotherapy to boost his immune system.
I recall Czei mentioning that the floor where Migs was admitted actually had other Filipino cancer patients. Nestor Bonifacio, a father of a cancer patient who is now an active member of Lifeline Missionary, played a video about healing by Candace Schmidt, Director of Lifeline Missionaries.
Czei recognized a familiar face on the video, Geng, Mhe-Anne’s college classmate who has been apparently inviting her to attend HOPE for Healing Seminars ever since Migs was diagnosed with cancer.
Mhe-anne finally graced the invitation by attending the 3rd session of HOPE for Healing Seminar while her hubby and son were still in China. Mhe-anne admitted that her skeptic mindset hindered her from actually believing what Candace preached in the beginning especially with the way she was emotionally dealing with her son’s condition.
But it came as timely as it should when she heard Candace emphasizing the biblical verses that said: “God is mighty to keep the sword and fulfill what He has promised.” She also held on to Romans 8:28: “…and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
She realized that her child’s cancer did not come from God. His word is medicine. For a time, it changed how she viewed the current depression that has been keeping her family struggle in their faith.
This faith lived and became strong when she felt the constant presence of Geng and the rest of the Lifeline members who provided emotional and spiritual support. She admitted that they have lost friends along the way but their Lifeline friends were faithfully there offering their prayers and guidance, holding on to the promise that God would heal their son.
During our sharing, Mhe-anne said that it really helps to be surrounded by believers who are there to feed you Godly thoughts to inspire you to surpass the worldly odds that might force you to give up during trials. Words of despair and utter insincere sympathy from others might have gotten the best of their faith at the earlier stages but the care and hope of the presence of believers strengthened the promise of God.
In June 2010, Mhe-anne returned to China; Migs was declared clear. However, during the monitoring done on September 16, 2010, the mass that was cleared dead through cryosurgery in China got bigger from 6.1cms to 9.1 cms.
The couple decided to have their son’s treatment here in Manila and tried a breakthrough medicine: Gene Therapy with systematic chemotherapy. Migs had his first chemotherapy in the Philippines in November 2010. The doctors also recommended having tubes inserted in Migs’ extremities upon removing the tumors and insisted on having the child undergo further chemotherapy. But the couple resisted anticipating the fate of future medical consequences should they allow their son to undergo these exhausting options. They rejected their doctor’s advice and did not allow their son to go through the procedure.
Faith can heal
The couple remembered how Migs responded when they told him about the tumor’s persistent development and that was traced near his pelvis (just below the spinal cord). Migs said, “Ah malapit na lang pala sa puwet, i-poopoo ko na lang ‘to Mama, Papa.”
Some might think that it’s ridiculous for a cancer patient to analyze the situation on such a light note but this was where the couple drew their strength from, “Yes, anak, malalabas mo yan. This too shall come to pass.”
And it did, their faith has indeed saved them. Migs took his last treatment on August 2011 and by September 2011, Migs was declared NED (Non-Existing of Disease). In medical analysis, he was cleared. On the final diagnosis on the second operation on April 2011, Migs was cleared from any mass.
Migs is now 13 years old and currently in seventh grade. He is healthy, alive, and Healed. The couple returned the good favor of giving back God’s grace to others by supporting Lifeline missionaries and has been actively involved in all its medical missions and projects in the country.
Given their inspiring testimony, it was befitting to ask what they can impart to other parents or those who are currently burdened by medical and spiritual devastation.
This was their message: “We know and fully understand your current situation and have gone through that journey for almost two years. Remember that God is God. For Him, all things are possible. God heals all diseases and has given you the authority and power over your child, fight for your child. Jesus said: ‘I came for those who are not strong and well, I came for those who are weak and sick.’ (Mark 2:17).
“Hope and believe that your child is healed no matter what the results reflect, just believe that your child is healed and it will happen. Healing was given to our son and healing belongs to your child as well. “
Their son’s healing started with an invitation from a friend. This article started with an invitation from a supervisor. Indeed God has his mysterious ways of being faithful, inviting each and every one of us to be healed by His love and infinite grace. Perhaps your healing also starts with an invitation.
• HOPE for Healing’s four-week seminar will have its last session on July 5 (Thursday) at Makati Stock Exchange building, Penthouse at 7PM. You are ‘faithfully’ invited.