This past winter, God called Derrick to a forty-day fast. It was a significant ask since the most he had ever fasted for was 3 days and 2 nights. But Derrick’s heart had been moved by the potential results: bonds of wickedness could be loosed, heavy burdens could be undone, oppressed could go free, and yokes could be broken. When chapter fifty-eight of Isaiah described his light breaking forth like the morning, healing springing forth speedily, and the potential of God responding to his prayers—Derrick was all in. He had a reason to be all in. His estranged sister had just recently been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer and given less than a year to live.
Every Wednesday morning, for 6 weeks during his fast, Rock Church pastors, Greg, Dave, and Mickey, reached out to Derrick. They prayed for him and spoke words of life over him. God used them to bring the encouragement he needed to renew his strength and Derrick kept “trudging” week after week in obedience. God was faithful. He honored His Word in chapter fifty-eight of Isaiah, He honored Derrick’s sacrifice, and on day twenty-three of a consecrated forty, God chose to miraculously heal his sister. Read an excerpt below from a letter Derrick wrote during his fast.
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“This past New Years Eve my sister sent out a photo of herself via social media; it was her on the way to a New Years Eve party. She looked happy, healthy, and beautiful. A few days later she was rushed to the hospital due to debilitating headaches and slurred speech. My mother thought she had suffered a stroke; her face had become partially paralyzed.
Doctors first suspected that it was Bell's palsy. They were not sure if the condition would be permanent. Some several MRIs, CT Scans and spinal taps later, doctors had found abnormalities on her brain scans indicative of a separate illness: brain cancer.
It’s important to know that my sister was already a 5-year triple negative breast cancer survivor. This news that her cancer had resurrected was absolutely devastating. My sister became depressed; she was scared. She thought she’d never see her forty-second birthday. She thought she’d miss raising her 3 children.
Oncologists gave her 1 month to a year to live in 2015.
She received the news in February that doctors would have to drill a hole in her brain to start administering chemotherapy. It was surmised at this time that she was in the early stages of Lepto Meningeal Disease (LMD): an aggressive recurring cancer that can cause permanent nerve paralysis and an untimely death.
My wife, who is a clinical cancer scientist, advised me to rekindle my broken relationship with my sister. She said patients with LMD had a low survival rate—only 15-percent post diagnosis.
My spouse, the most brilliant woman I’ve ever known, was telling me there was an 85-percent chance I’d never see my sister again.
My sister and I have been distant since I left Texas twenty years ago. I never had a desire to patch up the damage caused by our sibling rivalry until my wife gave me the candid news. I heard Pastor Miles mention at the start of 2015 that he and the pastoral team were fasting for forty days and forty nights. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and called me to do the same.
While my LIFE Group was preparing for a twenty-one-day fast, I knew God was calling me to something more. I knew that God could choose to heal miraculously and that fasting would bring me closer to Him.
On Sunday, February 15, I began my forty-day fast of solely water and Crystal Lite, praying that God would save my sister. I asked God to cure her cancer and cure her facial paralysis; I believed he would heal her. I was literally in a position through this fast to die to myself, and I had great faith that God would honor my prayers, that she might live.
Sunday, March 1, I went forward for prayer after the Sunday message at church. I prayed with Pastor Greg for a medical-miracle regarding my sister's terminal illness. I also asked for strength to help me endure the fast. I had never attempted a fast this long before.
Tuesday, March 9, oncologists relayed to my sister that they would not be drilling a hole in her head. They told her they would not be administering chemotherapy. A board of top cancer specialists collaborated at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and came to a final decision: my sister's latest scans were now cancer-free!
God is faithful.
My sister's brain cancer was no more as of day twenty-three of this forty-day fast.
She called me with the news; she sounded so excited! I told her I already knew and we both praised God repeatedly while I was driving. Neurologists still suspect Bell's palsy is the cause of her facial paralysis. However, my mom reports that my sister's face is 90-percent back to normal and improving everyday!
Today is March 18, day thirty-two of my fast. I'm confident that God will restore my sister's neurological nerve damage just as He cured her brain cancer. My sister and I now talk and text nearly everyday despite living in separate cities and time zones. I have felt compelled to shower her with gifts, because I really do love her. And, I will be flying home in April to see her for my birthday.
A second chance at a relationship with her is the best gift I could ask for. She and I finally have the bond we lost fourteen years ago, and it only took less than forty days! She is blind of my faith. She has no knowledge of my fast, however she will soon understand once I pass her my daily fasting journal next month.
This is my testimony as I embark on the final week of this consecrated time to God. I will have my first meal, tomato soup, March 27, with my wife. God is faithful and true to His Word. I have experienced God more in the last 4 weeks, than I have in the last 3 years.
I am physically weak. I am famished. I am minus forty pounds, yet I am spiritually healthy, strong, and obedient. My faith-tank is full and overflowing. The Holy Spirit spoke to me to fast and I obeyed. And as a result, God has restored my sister’s health and my relationships—with her and with Him.
I thank God for you, Rock Church. Thank you to the pastors for praying for my family and for lifting me up in prayer these past thirty-plus days. The finish line is near, however, I couldn’t have made it this far without your support.”
POSTSCRIPT: Derrick recently emailed Pastor Dave with great news.
“My sister was in tears when she read my letter and forty-page journal I kept during the fast. She has copies of both and reads them often; she said, ‘no one has ever shown that type of love and sacrifice for me.’ She also said that she feels God uses her as a ‘sacrificial lamb’ to keep our family tightly knit. She said that it seems like the only way our family comes together is when she has a bout with a terminal illness. She challenged us to stay close and not to let the fear of losing her be the only premise for us coming together as a family. We have all answered the call and are much closer as a family and as believers. My Uncle who is a pastor in Houston, who was in attendance for my birthday party in Texas this past April. He heard my testimony and said that my obedience in this fast renewed his faith in his ministry and the healing power of God. He confessed that he was losing faith. He was even considering a hiatus from his ministry the night before. He said that the fast and subsequent medical miracle reminded him that God is real and is faithful. All glory to God!”