I am not a professional fitness coach. I am an overweight middle aged African American male who refuses to be a part of the negative health statistics.

  • Black men live 7.1 years less than other racial groups
  • Black men have higher death rates than women for all leading causes of death
  • Black men experience disproportionately higher death rates in all the leading causes of death
  • 40% of black men die prematurely from cardiovascular disease as compared to 21% of white men

I ultimately need to 80 pounds to be in the healthy range so I am beginning the journey by losing 10 pounds in 30 days. I am inviting friends and family to join me and to hold me accountable. Ultimately I am developing new lifestyle disciplines for healthy living. I am having my annual physical this month. I will have my cholesterol, sugar level and prostate checked. I am going to learn new ways to eat. I love fried food and for 30 days I will not eat fried food. I loved pastries and for 30 days I will not eat candy, pastries or add sugar to my coffee. I will drink 8 glasses of water for 30 days and walk at least 1 mile a day and exercise 3 times per week in addition to walking.

I invite you to join me.

Patients have spiritual needs to address

By ALLYSON HELVIE Hospice ChaplainPublished: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at 4:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 6:42 p.m.

When a person is diagnosed with breast cancer, there are many facets to what happens in his/her life. We are surrounded by a medical model of health care, and one has test after test to determine the exact type of cancer.

By the time one receives a final diagnosis, she has encountered several doctors, nurses, technicians, and many other medical personnel. She has met with non-medical professionals to address her financial and emotional concerns.

With her medical plan in place, her physical needs are being met, and she has excellent support from the team of medical caregivers. There is another important aspect of her life, as well. Human beings are “whole” persons, and there is a spiritual aspect that should not be looked over when caring for those who are undergoing cancer treatment.

Many feelings may arise in times such as this: guilt, loneliness, fear and anger. People may begin to question God and ask, “Where is God in all of this?”

There may be other questions, such as “How could God allow this to happen to me? Why me? How do I cope?”

Read the Entire Article

I find this article extremely helpful.  I have have experienced a greater awareness among our congregations about cancer and pastors are swamped with people outside of their congregation on a spiritual journey trying to understand how God is involved in their cancer.

Not all change is tidy and inspiring. Sometimes change is the result of a difficult, frightening experience. The Rev. Jeff Jones of Liberty Grove UMC ( explores his experience with a recent illness and how he found God, and the church, present in the details.

“The thing you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you. So don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

— Matthew 6: 33-34, New Century Version

I never did feel bad. My old doctor stopped using our medical plan and I had to find another doctor. The new doctor saw something she didn’t like in the blood work and had me go to a kidney specialist. He did not like the blood numbers either and had me go to a urologist and ordered many tests.

After going through MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, and lots more blood drawn, they determined that I had a tumor growing on my right kidney along with a cyst there too. The urologist suggested that I go to the hospital as soon as could be arranged and have the kidney removed to prevent the continued growth of the tumor. It was 5 centimeters at the time and they felt that it was malignant. About 95 percent of kidney tumors are.

My dad e-mailed Bishop Schol for prayer and it turned out the week after my diagnosis was annual conference weekend. At the conclusion of the clergy executive session, Bishop Schol invited me up to be prayed for. Prayers play an absolutely powerful roll in this story, one answer to prayer after another. Following the prayer time, several of my clergy friends came up to me to offer their support, and Debbie Scott said I should talk to NIH and her doctor, for she had the same condition and through laparoscopic surgery, they didn’t remove her whole kidney, only the part that had the tumor on it.

I spent several days e-mailing her doctor and each of my first six emails came back as not deliverable. But somehow, God works in the efforts that even computers don’t understand and I got an email back from her doctor inviting me to come and be examined for a possible inclusion in their cancer study of kidneys at NIH. The week after conference, I was seeing a kidney specialist and was being welcomed into the program. I was now scheduled for surgery on Monday July 6th. I was to report to NIH on Sunday July 5th for the preliminary preparations for the surgery.

I invited my congregation, Liberty Grove UMC in Burtonsville, to come for a prayer service for strength and healing on Wed. June 24th. Seventy five people responded to the invitation, some of them coming from former parishes to lay hands on me and pray for me. Prayers are truly answered.

I had the surgery, it took five-and-a-half hours. They were able to remove the cyst and the tumor and leave 75 percent of my right kidney in me. I spent the week on the oncology ward at NIH. Prayers were said for me constantly and probably from around the world, thanks to my father’s connections. The Caring Bridge organization helped me create a website to gather prayers and well wishes and to allow us to share our story.

On Elaine’s birthday, the 16th of July, the doctor called to tell me the tumor was an oncocytoma tumor, BENIGN! I would not have to go through the chemo or radiation treatments. I would be watched because I have a very tiny cyst on the left kidney but if it’s the same, I’ll have that cared for down the road, NIH will keep track of me and prayers will be continually offered on my behalf.

Now the timing for all of this is amazing. It’s the kind of timing the passage of Scripture reports on. I could spend the summer recovering because the schedule is scaled back. I have a crew of excellent certified lay speakers who preached for me and covered the needs at the church. The prayers of numerous people helped restore my strength.

Now that Labor Day has come I’m back to work at about 75 to 80 percent. My follow up visits show my blood work and urine are right where they are supposed to be. My doctor reminded me to take it easy for four to six months, because of the major surgery, even though the small holes for the robot surgical team have healed up very well. My family and congregation are supporting the recovery process.

I share all of this because God is able to do far more than we can even imagine. Ephesians 3:20 promises us that. So whenever you are faced with challenges and are thinking about being stressed or worried or anxious, just pray and let God’s plan work for you, as you seek first the kingdom.


Thank you. Lord, for providing what we need. Thank you Lord, for the prayers of others who walk along beside us during such challenges. Thank you, Lord, for answered prayer. All this we pray with grateful hearts for your incredible love for us. In Jesus’ name, we pray.  AMEN.

Today we pray for the churches and people of the Washington Region.

Sounding Alarm About Disease
In Charles County, Where Men Are Dying From Prostate Cancer At Startling Rates, a Campaign Aims to Educate Those At Risk

By Lisa Rein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 27, 2008; C01

The preacher’s words took flight in a small Pentecostal sanctuary in Southern Maryland, where men are dying needlessly of a treatable disease.

“Your body is special to God!” Bishop James M. Briscoe declaimed to 45 Sunday worshipers in the pews above the weathered linoleum floor of Free Gospel Church of Bryans Road. “God has not designed this thing for you to die prematurely! Some of you would rather not go to doctors. They would rather be in the darkness about their health. But the scripture doesn’t say that.”

So began a public health campaign to educate, examine and treat the men of Charles County as prostate cancer becomes a disease that is striking and killing them at an alarming rate.

Men, black and white, in Southern Maryland’s largest county have the highest prostate cancer diagnosis and death rates in the state, and significantly above the national average. Local rates are climbing even as cases level off nationwide.


Is Worship Healthy?
Rev. Michelle Holmes Chaney

Why yes it is? If worship, showing the worth of God in Jesus Christ, is not what we manage to squeeze into an hour or so on Sundays and special occasions, but instead every thought word and deed we claim to think, say or do in response to our understanding of what it means to be a disciple. And yes, if healthy refers not to our medical/physical state but instead to the ability to find and maintain balance in our lives that requires God be first, and God actually is.

There have even been medical studies which can confirm this connection between worship attendance and health. A 1998 Study conducted by the Yale School of Medicine found that, “For the elderly, religion may do more than ease the soul. In fact, attendance at religious services may actually improve physical health and psychological well-being.” I don’t think you could convince your doctor that attending a one hour worship service five days a week would be a good substitute for the 20 minutes a day your doctor wants you to walk. But I do think that reflecting on the connection between our bodies, our health, and worship is worth the exploration.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1

Notice the connection between our bodies and worship in this text. All throughout the Old Testament we hear God repeatedly asking for sacrifices that are pure, unblemished, the first and the best. Why do we think we are somehow exempt? Let’s be honest if some of us were Abraham’s son, in our current state of health, I could hear God saying, “You know what…never mind!” I am all for giving God all our worries about our blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and bad feet. But let’s not try to give God high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and bad feet. During this month let’s try to find ways to make our worship healthy. And let me know what you come up with. I need all the help I can get!