Blessings Indeed

View at dusk Indianapolis

The view from our hotel room–Indianapolis at dusk

 

 

Tom and I have just come back from the International Gideons Convention that was held in Indianapolis, Indiana. People were there from over 90 countries from around the world. One of the things I love about convention is meeting and getting to know folks from countries that are so different from my own—and hearing of the difficulties many are facing with faith, courage, and perseverance.

As I listened to how God is working, especially in countries where it is hard and even dangerous, to be a Christian, it made me uncomfortable and sometimes ashamed to be a Christian in America. I thought of Luke 12:48: “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” I have been given so much and was reminded of my responsibility!

In my last blog, I shared my experience of packing food aid for Syrian refugees. The prayer of my heart is that I will be more mindful of the ways I can make a difference for the Lord and for this hurting world. I don’t ever want to take for granted how much I have been blessed. With that in mind, here are just a few of my recent blessings:

    • Hosting Jean Marc, a gentleman from France for two nights in our home and getting to know him

      Jean Marc 2 (2)

      Tom and Me with Jean Marc

    • Having more food available than I could possibly want or eat
    • The availability of fresh, clean water to drink
    • Being in air-conditioning, protected from the dangerous and excessive heat we were experiencing
    • The view from our hotel room
    • Having dinner with Glen, our new friend from Jamaica
    • Celebrating the two-year-anniversary of my miraculous healing (July 24)
    • The hospitality of Tom’s sister and her husband, Barb and Roy
    • The beauty and peacefulness of their home on a lake
    • That I was able to do these things freely and without fear of attack or fear for my safety

I could bore you by going on and on, but I think you get the picture. I am especially thankful for the blessing of refreshment this time away offered me. And now, it’s time to get back to work to change the world in whatever way I can from my humble home in Pennsylvania.

The most important thing I can do is to treat everyone I meet with love and respect, no matter who they are, no matter their circumstances, no matter their beliefs. If we all acted this way in our own corner of the world, we would make a difference. Smiles and love ARE contagious! Will you join me in doing this?

 

Advertisements

Bible Study 101?

Bible-Genesis with glasses

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net  Photo by Janaka Dharmasena

From April 21-24 Tom and I attended the Pennsylvania State Gideons Convention. Since we joined the Gideons in 2010, we have been blessed in ways too numerous to mention (including my miraculous healing which I have described in previous posts.)

 

I’ve done a lot of Bible study throughout my life. It’s one of my favorite activities. I’ve done studies where you take a book of the Bible and go through it verse-by-verse. I’ve taken one verse and meditated on it for insight over days and weeks. I’ve looked up specific words to see how they were used in the original language, context, and other verses.

But the Bible teacher who taught three 45-minute sessions, showed me Bible study on a whole new level. Dr. Dino Pedrone, pastor, author, and president of Davis College took our conference theme: “Declare His glory among the nations” (1 Chronicles 16:24) and divided it into three phrases. When he told us he would spend a session on each phrase, “Declare”, “His glory”, and “Among the nations”, I wondered how he would find that much to say about each. O, ye of little faith!

I won’t go through what he taught in those sessions. But Dr. Pedrone took us all over the Bible to expand our understanding of each phrase. He demonstrated how the entire Bible is woven together. He gave us action plans for putting each phrase and the verse as a whole into practice. Suffice it to say I learned a whole new way to plumb the depths of God’s Word. The Bible is the only book that is living and breathing and actively working in our lives (1 Timothy 3:16). Every book, every chapter, every verse, every word has so many layers of meaning and truth that we will never peel back a fraction of those layers this side of glory.

Thank you, Dr. Pedrone, for giving me another tool to help me dig deeper into the Word!

(What is your favorite way to study the Bible? Or what is the best Bible study you’ve ever done? Leave me a comment with your answers!)

Looking Back–One Year Later

Declare His Glory 2Tom and I just returned from the 2015 International Gideons Convention. The theme this year was 1 Chronicles 16:24–Declare His Glory among the Nations! While there, I celebrated the one-year anniversary of God’s gift of healing to me. As I look back, I see it as a year of declaring God’s glory in my life.

I first shared my healing with my church family by writing an article for my church newsletter. Several speaking opportunities both inside and outside of my church presented themselves. Seven weeks after my healing, I declared God’s glory to another one of my doctors, the transplant doctor who had followed me since my transplant evaluation in 2010. She saw the evidence as she spoke with me and heard the evidence as she listened to my lungs. That day, after telling me that my team of doctors had met and decided it was time to begin the transplant process, she closed my transplant file.

In August, I had contact with an editor from Decision magazine during Franklin Graham’s Festival of Hope crusade here in Pittsburgh. I had contact in both August and October with folks from our local Christian TV station. The editor of our Gideons International publication contacted me. And in June, a very rough outline of the book I’m planning to write about my healing, life after healing, and the issues and questions that arise from such a life-changing event caught the eye of a literary agent who will be working with me to develop the book and sell it for me.

Last year was a time of declaring his glory while waiting, listening, and learning about my new life and the call that came with it. Now that I have the medical documentation needed for the media contacts and the interest in my book, I look forward to giving God the glory in ways that I pray will touch more hearts and lives for Christ. This will be a year of moving forward, actively and in faith, into the call on my life to Declare His Glory in larger and ever-widening circles.

I am here, Lord. Send me.

God Still Works Miracles–Part 2–Geoffrey’s Obedience

Tom and Geofrey at the Melting Pot

Tom and Geoffrey enjoying The Melting Pot experience at dinner on Thursday night.

 

As Tom and I spent the rest of the day with Geoffrey, we learned how God had worked in his life and how God had been preparing for my healing long before any of us had an inkling that it would take place.

In July, 2013, Geoffrey came into contact with a man in his country who is known to have the gift of prophecy. While talking with him, the man stopped, looked at Geoffrey and told him that he saw a plane ticket on his head and that Geoffrey would be going to America the following July. Geoffrey thought it a bit strange as he had no reason to go to America and certainly didn’t have the means to do so. Despite this, he accepted the man’s words, but as time passed, forgot about them.

When information came out about the 2014 International Gideons Convention early in 2014, Geoffrey felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit that compelled him to register, which he did on faith. It wasn’t until partway through the process that he remembered the prophecy. As his plans progressed, God provided everything Geoffrey needed. He was given a plane ticket, the money he needed for registration and accommodations, and another gift of just the amount he needed to renew his visa—with an hour to spare before the deadline.

On the morning of the convention breakfast, Geoffrey was ready at 7:15 even though the breakfast was not until 8:00. He tried to leave his room but was drawn back inside. This happened several times. By the time he actually left, Geoffrey realized he would barely make it on time. I remember seeing him at the door, scanning the room for an empty seat when the man across from me waved to Geoffrey and pointed to the place at our table. I assumed they knew each other from one of the convention sessions, but later learned they had never met.

Geoffrey settled at the table in time for the blessing and the serving of breakfast. We smiled and nodded a hello to each other but were too far apart to be able to converse. He later told Tom and me of being under such conviction of the Holy Spirit to pray for me, that he didn’t enjoy his breakfast or hear any of the program. All he did for those two hours was listen to and focus on God’s command to pray for my healing. As I mentioned in the previous post, Geoffrey was so nervous to approach me because he didn’t know how I would respond that he asked the man next to him to relay his desire to pray for me.

Throughout the rest of the day, as we talked and shared, we learned that God had used Geoffrey’s gift of healing—as well his humble and obedient heart—to facilitate healings in his home country of Malawi. While not a faith healer, Geoffrey feels compassion for and will pray for anyone who comes to him with a request to pray for healing. In those cases, he has seen some complete and some partial healings, as well as no visible evidence of healing. But when he hears God’s direction to pray for someone’s healing, goes to him or her, and is obedient, the results have been 100% effective.

In my particular case, Geoffrey obeyed God every step of the way, even though he didn’t always know the purpose and at times felt uncomfortable. He responded in faith and obedience to Spirit’s nudges and directions. And God used him in a great and mighty way to restore my health.

Tom and I cannot stop praising and thanking God for this miraculous gift of healing (as well as a bit of walking and leaping)! We are doubly blessed to have Geoffrey as a friend and a dear brother in the Lord.

 

(Part 3 will tell what else God did during the week as word of my healing spread)

 

God Still Works Miracles–Part One

photo

Susan Reith Swan, Geoffrey Sadyalunda, Tom Swan

July 24, 2014 is a day I will never forget. That morning, I hopped onto my mobility scooter, balanced the portable oxygen between my legs, and left the hotel room with my husband, Tom, to attend a breakfast session at the 2014 International Gideons Convention in Philadelphia, PA.  Little did either of us know that this breakfast would be a life-changer.

Our friends, Wayne and Josie, had saved us seats. There was one empty chair at our table. Minutes before the blessing, the man across from me waved to an African gentleman who was searching for a seat. He joined us, and I gave him a nod and smile of welcome. The tables, set for ten, and the noise in the room made it difficult to talk to anyone other than those close to me.

When the program ended two hours later, the man from the other side approached and told me that the African man would like to pray for me and wondered if I would be willing. I never turn down an opportunity for prayer!

The African man introduced himself as Geoffrey Sadyalunda. From his nametag, I saw he was from Malawi. “When I sat at the table and saw you,” he said, “I heard God telling me, ‘I want you to pray for this lady. I want to heal this lady. I want you to pray for her healing.’”

The wait staff rattled silverware and clanked dishes, making it less than optimal for prayer. We decided it would be better to go up to my hotel room. I buzzed to the elevator on the scooter, while Tom and Geoffrey followed.

Georfrey shared with us that God had given him the gift of healing and that he had been used by God as an instrument to heal others in Malawi. “When God directs me to pray,” he said, “I must do so.”

I took off my oxygen and sat in a chair. Tom stood to my side, his hand on my shoulder. Geoffrey stood in front of me, his hands on my head. He began to pray. His voice rose and filled with authority. I knew I was hearing the voice of God through him. In the name of Jesus, Geoffrey commanded the spirits of darkness and infirmity to leave me. He placed a hand on my chest, as though physically pushing the diseases from my lungs, commanding them to be gone. I don’t know how long he prayed for me.

When he finished, Geoffrey stood back, looked at me, and said, “I am 100% confident that you are completely healed. Take a deep breath.”

I drew in a deep breath—and for the first time in ten years felt my lungs fully inflate. I took another deep breath with the same result. The constriction that had been getting progressively worse was gone. I jumped up, sobbing, laughing, and praising God. I threw my arms around Tom and said, “I can breathe! Sweetheart, I CAN BREATHE!”

Geoffrey opened his Bible and read from Acts 3:1-10 where Peter and John heal the lame man through the power of Jesus. As he read, I sang the song from my old youth group days, “He went walking and leaping and praising God!” I knew just how he felt.

I walked around the room—no shortness of breath. My mind reeling, my heart rejoicing, the three of us left the room, leaving behind the scooter and my oxygen. I made the ten-minute walk to the convention center without having to stop, something I could not have done with my oxygen. The more I walked, the stronger I felt. I ran into several people on the way over who knew me and marveled and rejoiced with us. I wanted to shout it from the highest point in Philadelphia! I wanted people to know that God is good. I wanted—and needed—to give God the glory for my healing!

%d bloggers like this: