Profiles in Courage
In August of 2013, my husband Sherman and I were visiting beautiful Atlanta, Georgia. For Sherman, it was a business trip; I was there to sightsee. However, for some reason, all I wanted to do was sleep. My behavior was so out of character that we agreed I should see my physician upon returning home. Nothing prepared me for my breast cancer diagnosis. Abruptly faced with my own mortality, fear rushed in with swift precision. I was left feeling helpless, hopeless, and faithless.
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself is the Rock eternal." – Isaiah 26:3-4
Everyone experiences trials, unexpected challenges, unmet expectations, or disappointments. Through each of these struggles we have choices: peace or worry; victory or defeat. A year ago I was diagnosed with a tumor in my spinal column. It needed to be removed promptly in order to prevent further nerve or neurological damage that could result from the tumor’s presence. I was quickly scheduled for surgery—without knowing if I had cancer or what treatments might follow.
The Journey of Arlene Publico, Women's Ministry Leader Emeritus
"Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.” – Ephesians 3:12-13
On February 25, 2016, at age 52, Arlene Publico, Women’s Ministry Leader of the Metro Manila Christian Church, passed away. For someone who rubbed elbows with excruciating physical pain for almost five years as she struggled head on with cancer, it was indeed a well-fought battle. As was written in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
When I first met Peggy Feeney in 1990, she was discouraged that there was yet another leadership change in her center city campus ministry at the University of Illinois Chicago. Living only a few blocks away from us, Peggy would often swing by to hang out--at which time I would encourage her to go spend some time with God first! She became a great help, even cleaning my bathrooms so that I would not have to inhale the cleaning chemicals since I was pregnant at the time. She would also bring me leftover muffins from her job at a bagel shop. Besides definitely appeasing my morning sickness, these mega-calorie goodies probably greatly contributed to my 44% weight gain on my 5 foot, 98 pound frame.
A disciple named Rebecca Goldman walked into a laundromat in Lowell, Massachusetts, armed with four small slips of paper, each with her name and number written on them. She handed the slips out to four women there, inviting them to church and adding that they would have friends if they came.
The third woman, Niramol Pichetshote, a fifty-two-year-old native of Thailand, took the piece of paper without saying a word and put it in her pocket. When her laundry was finished, she went home and thought long and hard about Rebecca and her invitation to church.
Ever feel like your faith is just hanging by a thread, you are holding on for dear life, escaping by the skin of your teeth? Do you know what I have come to think during those times? At least I have a thread and I haven’t let go of it! I know that doesn’t sound like much, but that thread has got me through the tough times and I’m grateful for it!
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a mom. I had it all planned out: in my mid-twenties we would have two girls two years apart. God had other plans for us! We are blessed with three amazing kids who are currently 24, 13 and just about 10. My husband’s daughter came to live with us from the Ivory Coast in West Africa when she was nine years old. (Prior to that, she had never lived with him, and he [we] had only met her once since she was born, so there wasn’t a real parental relationship there.) Then two years later we had a son between us and three and a half years later another son. Wow! It didn’t happen quite as I wanted, but it happened just as we needed.
There has always been this desire in my heart to serve the poor, to change their lives and change the world. Growing up in Switzerland, one of the riches and safest countries of the world made me aware how fortunate I was. One of the first memories of poverty was seeing the pictures of famished children in the camps during the Biafra war.
We live in a society of "want" – and we want it now! I can eat out – but I wonder why my fast food is taking so long. I can pump my own gasoline – but I get annoyed answering the questions first. I love all the things I can get accomplished without even getting out of my car! (Coffee, pharmacy, bank, dry cleaners...).