I just came in from church and I heard one of the most powerful testimonies I’ve heard in a long time from a guest speaker at our church, T.J. Brewer. I’d seen his name on prayer lists, and heard people give in prayer requests for him at our church. When I heard he was going to be speaking for us tonight, I had no idea the testimony that would come out of him.
I took notes as fast as I could, but they didn’t scratch the surface of his story. If ever a single person in Harlan County needed to write a book, it is T.J. Brewer. My prayer is that God will open doors before him to share his testimony near and far.
At a very young age, when his father was battling cancer, T.J. also had the same battle in front of him. Discouraged and depressed by his father’s death, he became an alcoholic, trying to drown the pain and confusion of losing his dad.
He passed out in the floor one day and when they rushed him to the hospital, he had suffered a massive stroke from which the medical staff did not expect him to recover. In the MRI for the brain bleed, they also discovered the beginning of a malignant tumor. The prognosis was dismal. He was given three months to live.
He had brain surgery and within a day was in a regular room, talking and behaving normally. This was to become a common theme in his life. Over the last nine years, T.J. has undergone five brain surgeries, all of them expected to leave him in a very diminished state mentally and physically. Even though he suffered regular and severe seizures for a time, he recovered from each surgery. Even after another stroke and paralysis, this young man stood tall and strong before us tonight without assistance, on his own two feet, sharing his testimony and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The doctor told him on one occasion that he had a brain tumor was the size of a man’s fist. People around him planned for his death and expected each new surgery to be the one that would take him out.
In T.J.’s words: “Everything that happens in our lives is for a reason. Each event is like a stone that goes into the wall of our lives upon which others are stacked and built.”
One of the most powerful things he said was, “Cancer took me from religion to a relationship with God.” We often think we know about God, but there is another whole level of actually knowing God in an intimate personal way.
T.J. is not shuddering at the thought of death or cancer. He still believes God can heal him and is living proof of miracle upon miracle. “God’s timing is perfect. We may think He’s late, but His timing is with a purpose.”
He described his relationship with God like this. “The Bible is our spiritual Bowflex. The more we study the word, the more strength we will have. If you put a ham in the oven and come back two hours later to check on it, you are not going to pull out a turkey. We get out exactly what we put in. The same is true with God. We are going to get out of our relationship with God exactly what we put in.”
At the time of his appointment to speak at our church, five old tumors are back and there is a new one, a sixth one. Again, the prognosis from the doctors is not good. More than nine years after his original diagnosis and prognosis of three months, T.J. is a walking miracle. He will face the surgery, the treatment or death with the same attitude he has shared behind the pulpit all along.
“We see temporary things. God sees eternal things. God is setting us up today for his purpose to be fulfilled in our lives tomorrow. Whichever way it goes, I am in God’s hands. Our pain is never more important than His purpose.”
Reach Judith Victoria Hensley at [email protected] or on Facebook. Check out her blog: One Step Beyond the Door.