I was recently interviewed by Ps Paul Bartlett from Lighthouse in Wollongong. This is his take on our conversation and I pray it is a blessing to you in your current circumstances. Thanks Paul!
My friend Phil probably should be dead, or at the very least, angry and bitter.
He’s not any of those things – and it still amazes me.
Phil Camden is a 55-year-old father of two, a loving husband and a popular pastor who was diagnosed two years ago with Motor Neuron Disease (MND).
MND is an aggressive condition that destroys the body’s ability to communicate with its own muscles, usually resulting in death within a few years of diagnosis. Over the past year, you’ve probably come across MND (or ALS as it’s known in America) via the online craze known as the Ice-Bucket Challenge.
Ice-bucket challenge videos, where everyone from Barack Obama to Bill Gates had cold water tipped on their heads, have been viewed by more than 440 million people and raised $100 million for research into the disease.
“You eventually become locked inside a unmoveable body,” Phil said recently on a Sunday night at Lighthouse.
“Today is the strongest day that I will have from this point on unless I get a miracle. One day I’ll be trapped in my body, fully aware and able to think – but not able to communicate.”
Phil shared that the diagnosis had initially challenged his core beliefs but, after lots of tears and prayer, he now saw it as an opportunity to help other people going through similar terminal illness.
“I really believe that God is still a good God. In the midst of our pain and suffering, He becomes even more real and significant,” Phil said.
Like many others, Phil admitted he had sometimes found himself asking why bad things happened to good people.
Then he pointed to his waterproof watch and gave an incredible insight on life.
“My watch can go 200m deep in the water. The manufacturer doesn’t guarantee it won’t get wet, they guarantee the water won’t penetrate and destroy the watch,” he said.
“My Christianity does not guarantee that I will live through this world without any pain or suffering but it does guarantee that the world will not destroy my relationship with God and His love for me.”
Phil told the crowd that nobody liked talking about death but Christians should not shy away from it.
“Even if I was healed, I would still die one day. So death is not actually the issue.”
“I believe in healing but I also believe that we should be experts on dying because for us, death has lost its sting.”
“Everyone of us is going to die … and this is why God sent Jesus into the world so that when I do die I’ll have eternal life. It’s not a fairytale, it’s real.”
I came away deeply moved and challenged by Phil’s story.
In my world most people who are seen as having great faith are those that get the miracle. After listening to Phil I now believe that often the people with the greatest faith are those who need a miracle and don’t get one – but still believe God!
To read more from Paul visit http://www.adifferentlight.com.au/blog