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 (Manna 75: Towards Maturity)
Healed from the Inside Out
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Healed from the Inside Out

Steffi JoengIrvine, California, USA

In the name of the Lord Jesus I testify to glorify His name. I’ve been in the True Jesus Church (TJC) since I was born. I was baptized and grew up in the church, attending religious education classes, and even receiving the Holy Spirit when I was young. Because my childhood was so rooted in the faith, everyone thought I would grow up to be an exemplary TJC teenager, but that was not the case.


When I started high school, my behavior and spirituality were good. However, my spiritual life spiraled downward as my freshman year progressed. By my junior year, I quarreled with my family daily, went wherever I wanted to go, lied constantly, and made bad friends. I began to hate church and my brothers and sisters in church. My own thoughts and desires consumed me. It progressed to the point where I thought about quitting church because I couldn’t understand why I was bound by so many rules when all I wanted was to be free. I felt ostracized and judged at church, and I felt that God didn’t love me. Pride also began to grow in my heart because everything else in my life was so good. I was young and doing well in school. Nothing bad had ever happened to me. I felt untouchable.

During this time, the relationship between my mother and me was also deteriorating. Often, I would be doing work and she would randomly enter my room to ask if I had been praying. Every time she entered, I would angrily snap at her, saying, “No. Why would you think I’m praying?” I would shoo her away because her very presence annoyed me. What I didn’t realize was that even though I was very much alive on the outside, inside I was dying.


One morning in October 2012, during my junior year, I woke up with a very stiff neck. When I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror, I saw a lump the size of a gumball, sticking out of my left clavicle. As I continued to observe the lump, I didn’t even think of cancer. The pride in my heart told me that that was out of the question—it could never happen to me. A week passed and the gumball had swollen to the size of my fist. As the weeks passed, the lump seemed to grow bigger and bigger.

After seeing a series of head and neck specialists and oncologists, I was diagnosed with stage II Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a cancer of the lymph nodes. Finally, the panic set in. I think anyone would be scared after being diagnosed with cancer. My faith was weak, so I neither blamed God nor sought His help. It seemed pointless because I thought that God didn’t love me.

After being diagnosed with cancer, it is standard procedure to undergo several body scans. It turned out that there were two tumors in my body, one on my left clavicle, and another large one, about 9 cm in diameter, in the middle of my chest, just above my heart. Thank God, though I had two large tumors, the lymphoma was only at stage II, meaning that it was discovered early and very treatable. In fact, without the appearance of the little gumball to tell me that something was wrong with my body, I would never have known that there was a larger mass in my chest.


This testimony is not about huge miracles, but the small blessings I received during my treatment, through which God slowly trained up my faith and perseverance. Through these little lessons, I learned that God indeed loves me. He wanted me to go through this trial, but He never gave me more than I could handle.

My chemotherapy took place about once every fortnight. Though it was tough to face, it was milder and less frequent than the treatment the children in my neighboring bed area had to undergo. However, I still had moments of great physical pain. I had to receive special shots to replenish my white blood cells. White blood cells are made in our bone marrow, so there were countless nights when I was jolted awake by a painful burning sensation in my spine. In one particular instance, I asked God why He would bring me this suffering, and I pleaded for Him to take away the pain. As I lay there, I started to reflect on how sinful my life was.

I recalled that, “For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov 3:12). As I thought about this verse, my prayer started to change. I began to understand that God was chastising me, and I accepted His actions, like the people of God did in the latter part of Zechariah 1:6:

“So they returned and said:

‘Just as the Lord of hosts determined to do to us,
According to our ways and according to our deeds,

So He has dealt with us.’”

In my prayer, I started admitting my wrong. I recognized that this was something I deserved and I accepted it. When I returned to God, He showed His faithfulness and lessened my suffering. Thank God, my treatment took about six months in total, a comparatively short time in terms of cancer treatment.

God also protected me psychologically. Throughout my entire diagnosis and treatment, I cried only once. After that, I never felt scared or depressed, because I knew that God had put me into good human hands while covering me with His own hand. I had a great support system consisting of my parents, friends, family, and church. I felt a peace and joy washing over me, which could only have been possible through hope in God.


Another blessing was that I was able to go to church throughout my illness, even though I was housebound. The cancer affected my immune system, so I had to be home-schooled. I was not allowed to go out much, because even a common cold could kill me. But when Saturdays came around, I would get dressed and go to church to keep the Sabbath. I could continue to do holy work and have fellowship with my brothers and sisters. I was supposed to wear a protective mask when I went out so that I wouldn’t get sick, but I didn’t bother to wear one at church. I had no fear because I felt that God was protecting me, that He would not allow anything to happen to me.

Because of this, church was my only source of influence during that six-month period. This was another blessing, because it meant that I was removed from the darkness I had been living in. I was no longer surrounded by bad friends or negative influences at school. God was detoxifying me spiritually, and at the same time, He was filling me with His love and mercy through church members and my family. I no longer felt the need to be sinful or to fulfill my own pleasure, because I felt filled already.

The greatest blessing was that cancer transformed my relationship with my family. After six months of being sick and spending every day with my parents, I experienced their love more than imaginable. They supported me throughout my chemotherapy, as they accompanied me to every session, made me feel comfortable, cleaned me up after every long day, and helped me recover. They dropped their entire lives to take care of me and make sure I was okay. I really thank God for giving me such amazing parents.

I reflected on why I used to fight with my family and realized the reasons were selfish and pointless. I decided to stop fighting with my family because they did not deserve my harsh words after showing me so much love and care. Thank God, since then, we haven’t had any serious fights, and I even tell my parents that I love them all the time. I also don’t have the heart to lie to them anymore, because I now understand how much they love me. In this way, cancer was God’s wake-up call to me.

After everything was over, my mother told me that before the cancer diagnosis, while she was cooking or cleaning, she would hear me praying in tongues, but when she came to check on me, I would just be sitting there doing work. In her confusion, she would ask me if I had been praying, only to receive a rude reply. She told me that this was God’s way of telling her that something bad was going to happen to me and that she should pray for me. God was preparing my whole family for this trial.


As the chemotherapy was working to shrink the malignant cells and tumors, I also felt my evil desires, anger, and weaknesses diminishing. It was spiritual chemotherapy. I found it especially interesting that I had a huge growth right in front of my heart, as though it was a physical manifestation of all the evil that was covering my heart. It had brought me so much anger and emptiness, preventing me from seeing God and other people in a good light. During my treatment, even though I felt like my outer body was dying, my inner person was slowly being brought back to life, being strengthened and restored on the right path.

Thank God, I was declared cancer-free in April 2013. Since then, I have not ceased in trying to bolster my faith. Even though I suffered, I came out practically unscathed. Even now, my experience of having cancer feels like a dream that I can hardly remember. My only reminders of ever being sick are the scars on my body. God really protected me and showed me His mercy and love. He placed me in the fire in order to refine me so that I would be a more complete vessel. He showed me His righteousness. Even more, He showed me He is my heavenly Father. He took me back and saved me from being lost. Now I feel that I should do everything for the glory of God to repay His love.

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? ... For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

(Heb 12:7, 10, 11)

Through this experience, God told me that I am His child and that He loves me. I learned that when we suffer, it may be because we are disobedient. When God chastises us, it is to show us His love and mercy so that we will return to Him. I’m very thankful that He saved my life. May all glory and praise be unto His name.



Box Text:

A Bystander’s Perspective
by Raymond Chou

To Sister Steffi, her illness is just like a dream. She may not remember the details, but I do. As a resident preacher, I was under so much stress because the church council wanted me to comfort her. But what can you say to a young, bright, and beautiful sixteen-year-old girl who had just been diagnosed with stage II cancer?

After much prayer and walking back and forth, I picked up the phone to call her. “Hi Pastor!” she said. She sounded happy and I could hear the sound of a video game in the background—maybe she was playing with her brother. I asked if she was okay. “I’m okay, I’m okay, but I’m busy now. I can talk to you later.” She sounded fine, so I wondered if there had been a mistake. But at church on Saturday, I sat next to Steffi’s mother during lunch time to find out more. Before I could say anything, she started crying. It was not easy, especially for her parents.

As bystanders, we saw God demonstrating His miraculous guidance, helping a little seed to grow, and grow strong. Once, I asked Steffi how the chemotherapy was going. She said, “Thank God it’s going well. On Thursday, I do chemotherapy. On Friday, I vomit all day. But thank God, on Saturday, I get to go to church!” I didn’t know how to respond to such a positive answer. It’s amazing how a person can so comfortably face such a dire and drastic situation in life. She was even leading hymnal worship sessions when she had no hair. Seeing this, I would think that it could only be through the power of God—there’s no other reason.

There were times when Steffi was in great danger of losing her life, when her blood cell count dropped so low that she could depart at any time. But the whole ordeal not only greatly edified her family, but also the local church. Many members started pondering on the meaning of life and diligently prayed for her. We really thank God that we are able to see such a great transformation in her. It is a miracle that has inspired the whole church. May God continue to help and guide Sister Steffi.

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Author: Steffi Joeng