The day our lives changed forever

The Brexit will change many things but our life as a family didn’t change on 23rd June. It changed forever on 14th June 2016. I was due to a routine health check. I went healthy and I came out with a serious illness.

Following a routine blood test on Tuesday 14th June, I was contacted by our GP the following day. The level of white blood cells was unusually high and he wanted me to have further checks with a consultant. He had already taken the initiative to contact an Hematologist at the hospital. I had an appointment for the following morning, Thursday. Our GP suspected a chronic form of leukemia.

I went to the hospital, talked with the consultant, a tall young man with a strong Italian accent, and had another blood test. The results came back the next day and he confirmed the initial diagnosis of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL).

Our bodies naturally generates white blood cells and they die after a while. In my case, some type of white blood cells are multiplying and not dying. This results in unusual levels of white blood cells in my blood and could lead to complications. Most patients with CLL are elderly people and live without treatment. They need regular checks with the consultant, once or twice a year. In some cases, there will be a need for a light chemotherapy. But there is no known cure. It is a slow process and we have to learn to live with it. In my case, I am young and it is likely that I will need a treatment at some point in my life. It could take many years before it happens. No one knows. I will see the consultant in a few months time.

Apart from that, we are doing well. I am healthy and intend to continue to climb mountains on a regular basis. The family is also well.

We are grateful to the Lord for the timing of this health check. On the same day, I met another missionary, planting a church in Aix Les Bains, and I met the Roman Catholic priest of Cognin, the town where we live. I had a good conversation with a Franciscan monk who knows nothing about Protestants.

We thank God for our GP who reacted very quickly and for the consultant who agreed to take me the following day (due to my young age).

We thank him for the gospel. This diagnosis has given us a fresh perspective on the brevity of life and the on the gospel.

Thank you for your prayers, we hope to see some of you in Aberystwyth this summer for the Welsh conference of the Evangelical Movement of Wales.


Book review: Why Bother with Church ? by Sam Alberry

Here in France, church commitment is a real issue. Most people see church as something optional. Church is a voluntary based organisation. It doesn’t really matter if I don’t attend, and when my local church doesn’t reach my expectations any more, I find another one.

In many churches, a minority are faithfully committed to the church but the majority isn’t. They will attend most Sundays unless they have something better to do, or feel too tired to go to the service. Most will never bother with a midweek meeting. In one church I know, it seems that some members only attend services when they are on duty like preaching or leading the service.
“Why bother with church ?” is a helpful little book. In a few pages it gives compelling reasons why believers should bother with church. It concludes with the question “Why on earth would I not bother with church?” There are only 6 short chapters and it is an easy read. The first chapter is a quick introduction to Ecclesiology: “What is church?”. The other chapters answer various practical questions: why do I need church? What makes a good church ? There is also a chapter on church government. The last two chapters: “How do I survive church ?” and “How can I be a good church member? are especially helpful.
I liked that the author doesn’t push his own ecclesiology (he is an Anglican), but at one point, he wisely tells his readers that if they want to go deeper on a specific issue, they should talk with their pastor.This little book is practical and pastoral. You will understand that the reason you find church boring “has to do with the mindset with which we arrive week by week.” So instead of coming to get something out for yourself, try to think how you can serve others.Read “Why bother with church”. Use some of its arguments in conversations. Get a few copies and hand them over around you. Make sure that young believers read it and understand it. Personally, if I were to use it, I would take each chapter heading and make a series of sermons. Actually, I wonder whether it started as a series of sermons.