Willie and Shirleen Mangrum of Columbia, Tennessee are SPECIAL friends.  I pray their story will encourage and inspire readers to “keep on keeping on” knowing God has something “good” to be found in every situation and circumstance. Willie and Shirleen have been dealing with the dreaded disease cancer. The following includes my questions/comments (in bold) and their responses. 

My observation is that as a couple you were living the “happiest days” of your lives as newlyweds; extended families, church involvement, careers that were rewarding and more.  

Willie- “We believe that everything that happened in our previous lives was God preparing us for the day we would meet and ultimately the day He would ordain our marriage.” 

Shirleen – “There is no doubt that God had His hand on us meeting and getting together at this time in our lives.” 

Shirleen, please describe what happened physically, spiritually and emotionally in 2020.

Shirleen- “Last summer, I started experiencing some pain on the sides of my abdomen  when I was lying down.  At first, it only happened once in awhile.  Then it became more frequent.  When I mentioned it, Willie and others who have their gallbladders removed, were certain that my gallbladder was likely the problem.  When I went to the Doctor’s office, the nurse practitioner seemed to agree and I was sent for an ultrasound.

 “When the nurse practitioner called with results of the ultrasound, I was expecting to hear that my gallbladder needed to be removed.  Instead, she said a mass was on my pancreas and spots on my liver.  I was dumbfounded, confused and asked, “What about my gallbladder?”  

“She said, “It’s fine”.  I was numb as she explained that I needed to see a Surgical Oncologist because it needs to be treated as being malignant until that’s ruled out.  

“I then checked Google to see what this could mean and found that it was possible I had pancreatic cancer.  How can that be??  I looked at the risk factors- smoking, obesity, diabetic – I don’t have any of those.  I’ve gone to the doctor regularly, had every test I was told I needed; everything that I knew to do to keep an eye on my health and to catch anything as early as possible.

 “There were a lot of tears the next several days…and many prayers.  We prayed for God to help us to be strong as we waited for Him to guide us through whatever the path that lay ahead. 

“I was scared and so many things went through my mind.  I leaned on the words of my life verses – Philippians 4:12-13 – I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.

“Our church family is a constant source of support. A family stopped by one day with flowers, encouragement and prayers.  In addition, their son, Collin, made us a card he titled ‘Encouragement Message’.  He wrote us a nice note letting us know that he is praying for the Peace of Christ to fill our hearts and minds.  He then listed 13 verses where we can find words of encouragement.  I looked up each verse and if it wasn’t already highlighted it was then.  I keep that card with my Bible so those verses are always close by.  

“On Friday, July 17, I had plans to go to Walmart at lunch time to pick up a few groceries.  As I worked through the morning, the thought came to me that I should go to Food Lion rather than Walmart.  I was able to get through Food Lion quickly and loaded the groceries in the back of my car.  Behind me, was a parked car with the engine running and a lady behind the wheel.   She stuck her head out the window and said, “Ma’am, I feel like the Lord is telling me everything’s going to be OK.”  I froze and then started crying.  The lady got out of her car and asked if I was OK?  I said that I was having some medical issues and there was a chance that I had cancer.  She asked if I was a Christian and if I truly knew the Lord.  I said, yes. She then asked if she could pray with me right there in the Food Lion parking lot. She prayed for my healing.  All I know is her name is Jackie and it was no ‘coincidence’ that I was meant to go to Food Lion that day. 

“I cried all the way home.  I’ve been a Christian since I was a freshman in high school and have never felt God talk so clearly to me as he did that day through Jackie.  That encounter helped me to put, and keep, everything in focus. Whatever it is that is ahead, everything is going to be OK.”                                                                   

To Be Continued Next Month

Ralph E. Vaughn

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