Summer is fading fast. Some of the trees are starting to turn a glorious golden orange, and the available evening light is diminishing with every passing day. Schools have just started again, after the long holiday, and social media feeds are full of proud parental posts boasting photos of their offspring, dressed in shiny new shoes and uniforms that are a little on the large side.

It’s time to take stock and face into the new academic year, so I’ve booked a day away at a rural Christian retreat centre. It’s housed in a converted mill, crafted in honey-coloured Cotswold stone, and it provides me with the space and peace I need for prayer and reflection.

When I hear that a Canadian couple are staying and ‘it just so happens’ that they will be sharing their testimony at a specially curated event that evening, it doesn’t take much to persuade me to stay.


As twilight beckons, people are beginning to gather in a barn that has been lovingly restored and turned into a conference centre venue. The original beams are embedded in the walls and the double height ceiling. There are probably no more than thirty of us, but the room feels full.

Glenn and Cheryl are an unassuming couple in their early 50s. He works as a church caretaker; she as a dental receptionist. They are softly spoken and their Canadian accents are gentle. Their children have grown and flown the nest. Their lives are beginning to revolve around grandchildren.

Their story began, Glenn explains, one Saturday morning a few years ago. He was having a shave and looking in the bathroom mirror, when he noticed a lump in his neck.

I hadn’t noticed it before,” he recalls, “so I decided to get it checked out.”

A couple of weeks later, his doctor greets him with the news that his biopsy test results show him to have Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It’s a type of cancer that has developed within his immune system. The painless swelling in his neck is a typical symptom of the disease.

The doctor’s words felt like a death sentence,” Glenn tells us, “I was filled with fear about the future.

Intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy followed.

In the natural, Glenn was filled with fear. Yet in the spiritual, he felt an inexplicable peace beyond understanding, and he knew it was because he was being carried by the prayers of other people, whether or not they knew him personally.


Hindsight is always a wonderful thing and, when Glenn used it to look back, he realised that God had begun to train him in spiritual warfare in the weeks leading up to the diagnosis, and that this was what would be needed up ahead.

Bizarrely, the training had come from an unexpected quarter when, out of the blue, he had received a letter from a debt collection agency, calling in a long forgotten student loan. It had sent him into a panic, as he didn’t have ready access to funds to pay it off. So he had done what he had learnt to do instinctively. He had prayed about it.

I heard God’s still small voice, very clearly, telling me that the debt would be cancelled,” he recounts. “It felt like a complete contradiction of the circumstances, but I held onto what He said, and trusted it to be true.

Less than a month later, on his birthday, a letter landed on the doormat, encased in an official brown envelope. The loan had been written off.

It was such a gift, and such incredible timing, to land on my birthday,” he says, “I knew God’s hand had to be in it.”


In the weeks leading up to his diagnosis, Glenn and Cheryl have started to notice, as they read through the Gospels together, that Jesus never failed to heal anyone who came to Him for healing. It is making them wonder, why should it be any different now?

They sense God lead them to Psalm 118:17 and Glenn claims it as a promise over his life:

I will not die but live, and proclaim what the LORD has done.”

He keeps repeating it, embedding the words in his soul and spirit.

When Glenn returns to his doctor, he is told that the only option available is a bone marrow transplant. But he must be prepared for the worst. The success rate is only 25% and there’s little that can be done if his immune system rejects the bone marrow.

We had less than 48 hours to decide,” Cheryl tells us, “so we prayed about what to do.”

All I could hear,” Glenn interjects, “were the words of Psalm 118:17 on repeat, running through my mind. I knew that I should go ahead with the transplant. I also knew that I would be alright.”

When a bone marrow match is found, the operation takes place and, as it comes to a close, Glenn is rushed into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with an infection on his lungs. He is wired up to an artificial respirator to help him breathe, while he drifts in and out of consciousness. His medical team pronounce that he is worse off now than he was before.

But this was the opposite of what God had been saying,” Cheryl says, “and I felt God speaking so clearly all through that night. His voice was still and small, but it commanded authority, and He said very simply that we were not to accept the doctors’ reports, that Glenn would not die, but he would live, and he would proclaim what the LORD had done.” She pauses a moment, before continuing. “So I made a conscious decision to agree with God, and not the doctors.

Cheryl prayed throughout most of that first night after the operation, before falling into a deep restorative sleep. Four long weeks followed. Throughout that time, while Glenn was in ICU, she kept praying in line with what God had said, not what the doctors were saying.

The day after Glenn was discharged and sent home from hospital, the doctor rang to say that the report was good, the tests were good, the outlook was good. It was a complete mystery. He didn’t understand.

But Cheryl and Glenn understood.


Around this time, Cheryl is at work, on the reception desk at the dentist’s surgery, when a young mum comes in for treatment. It doesn’t take long before they start chatting and she expresses concern because she has found a lump on her neck. She is worried it might be cancerous.

As she listens, Cheryl feels the Holy Spirit prompt her, and she shares Glenn’s testimony, in simple terms, explaining that Jesus was with him throughout the whole ordeal, that people were praying, and that Jesus has healed him.

The young mum cries when she hears this, and Cheryl knows she has planted some seeds of faith and hope.

A couple of months later, the young mum returns to the dentist and asks to speak to Cheryl. She pours out her heart, explaining how, after her conversation with Cheryl that day, she had not been able to stop thinking about what happened to Glenn.

She didn’t know what she was doing, but she called the name of Jesus, out loud, while she was preparing dinner one evening, and what she now knows to be the presence of God came upon her in her kitchen. She felt an indescribable sense of peace and the lump disappeared.

Unsure what was happening, she looked online and found the number for a local church. That evening, the pastor came round and prayed with her and, a short while later, she gave her life to Jesus and started going regularly to her local church.

Cheryl is unassuming as she shares this story. It is clearly an outworking of what happens when they ‘proclaim what the LORD has done’.


This is Part 1 of this story. Part 2 will follow shortly.

[Photo by Scott Broome on Unsplash]


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