Hallelujah, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I testify. In April 2001, God received a very close relative in my family: my aunt, sister Shek, a deacon's wife. She was also a mother, a wife, and a sister in Christ. In 1999, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away at the age of fifty.
This testimony is an account of how a True Jesus Church member battled for her life while suffering and failing both physically and spiritually, who came to realize the will of God, and at her final breath left the world refined as pure gold. I am compelled to use her story as an encouragement to those who remain in this world.
The Onset of Sickness
The problem began several years ago when my aunt started coughing unusually frequently. She had showed difficulty in singing in the church choir and complained of a shortness of breath, something she had never exhibited before.
This problem became increasingly severe, especially when she sang solo for a spiritual convocation. The hymn was entitled "I Am Coming, Lord." I remember the day she sang because the moment was truly beautiful.
Apart from singing, she excelled in bringing laughter and joy to other people, and it had become her trademark in the church. It was, therefore, that much more distressing for me and other brothers and sisters to see her condition worsen.
After a period of lengthy medical examinations, an x-ray scan showed a suspicious shadow in her lung. Doctors reassured her and explained that the possibility of cancer was remote because she was still young and a non-smoker.
However, a tissue biopsy was still necessary, and this involved a simple operation. It seemed that what happened next was indeed far from anybody's imagination.
In the operating room, the surgeon discovered a tumor in her lung, and this meant removing the lung altogether. My aunt came out of surgery in a lot of pain and found it incredibly difficult to adjust with only one lung. The news that followed was all the more worrying and difficult.
Touched by Love
The tumor was found to be malignant and she had to be treated with chemotherapy. We had hoped that the treatment would kill the cancerous cells and stop it from spreading further.
I remember seeing how weak she was, especially after the chemotherapy. It seemed like the joy she gave so openly made the sadness more painful for us.
During summer vacation that year, a number of preachers came to train in Elgin church. In the days when I didn't have to work in my parent's takeaway, I would go to church with my aunt for the prayer sessions. Our conversations and time spent together appeared always light-hearted.
One night, on taking her home, she told the preacher and myself about how sad she was that she could not sing anymore. The preacher's reply stuck in my mind: "You cannot make one hair white or black" (Mt 5:36). Suddenly, I realized how insignificant I was.
Many brothers and sisters persisted in their prayers for my aunt and showed their love by making food and nutritious soup for her. I could tell that she was very touched by them.
Apart from taking her prescriptions, she also took herbs prescribed by a Chinese doctor. In many ways, these were normal responses to illness. However, the coughing persisted and worsened.
The cancer had spread to her brain, the other lung, and to many other vital organs. Once again she had to undergo additional treatment. Upon hearing the news, a friend and I went to visit her in the hospital.
We were prepared to comfort her, but she was lively and very comfortable when we arrived. We chatted about many things and she showed no signs of anxiety. It was a truly wonderful moment of fellowship, and it is a moment I continue to treasure very much.
The next time I saw her, she changed a lot. Her body had become incredibly frail and her hair had fallen out. Once again she became very low, physically, mentally, and spiritually. The brothers and sisters mourned with her and, day-by-day, the mourning increased.
When she was able to go to church, she asked people to pray for her. It seemed she was losing hope and crying out for help. We realized that she was feeling very angry and questioning why she had this illness. This same question crossed everyone's minds because she used to be the happiest and one of the most fervent sisters in church.
The several months that went by, many brothers and sisters from other regions came to Elgin to visit my aunt. She cried because reality was cutting her. She knew she didn't have long to live.
Let Your Tears Turn to Strength
But something began to change. As our sadness deepened, her faith rose to great heights. The crying ceased and, while everyone else cried more and more, she carried courage and a gentle peace within her heart.
One day, upon another visit from the sisters' fellowship, we said a prayer for her. In that prayer, I felt that it wasn't God's will to cure my aunt, and I changed my request and asked God to have mercy on her so that she would not feel any more pain.
Everyone extended words of encouragements to my aunt before they left, and their words were tearful and emotional. But she spoke with words that were more comforting than those she received, and told us not to cry because Christians have the true hope. These were her last words to the sisters' fellowship: "Let your tears turn to strength."
The week before she passed away, I went to visit her with my parents. There, she told us about a vision she had seen in prayer before her illness. In that prayer, she saw somebody lying down, and everyone walking toward this body had sad expressions on their faces. After the prayer, she decided not to tell anyone about this vision because it was too strange.
My aunt then said, quite calmly, that God revealed to her that she was going to die. She was ready to go and understood that this was God's will.
After she passed away, a sister gave a testimony concerning my aunt. The incident occurred during one of her visits to my aunt's home. In the middle of the prayer, she cried bitterly to God and pleaded to Him to heal my aunt.
At that moment, she heard a voice telling her that this wasn't His will. Upon hearing this, she cried even louder and hugged my aunt, who was praying next to her.
Hope Binds Us Together
I am compelled to write because her story is the closest I have come to experiencing spiritual victory. I was there when my aunt prevailed during some of the highest and lowest points at the end of her life.
Her attitude and courage has inspired me to pursue more zealously after my faith. I hope that through this testimony, you may understand God's will more clearly and learn from the beautiful steps of her life. I miss her and hope to see her again in heaven. May all glory be unto our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!