by Terry Camsey, Major –
. . . to celebrate, what for me is, a very important anniversary. A re-birthday, one might call it. You see, it is 21 years this August since I had five-way heart bypass surgery.
The need for it was discovered (accidentally? No, I don’t think so, I believe God was in this from the beginning) during a routine annual physical examination. The doctor came out with a piece of paper in his hand and asked, “How long has it been since you had your heart attack?” I said, “Never. I have never had a heart attack!” He said, “You have, and this graph shows it.” It must have been a silent attack, since I recalled no angina pains and I found out later that the odds of surviving a first heart attack are about 50%.
He certainly got my attention and, within a matter of days (right at the end of WMI, I recall) surgery was scheduled. I was paranoid since they told me I should be on a life support system for a while after surgery. And the night before the operation was a lonely one for me. I wrote a last letter to my wife (just in case) and scrubbed up with anti-bacterial soap early the next morning…
But a strange thing happened en route to the operating room. I was left, briefly, outside on a gurney when a question popped into my head… “What have I done for God and his kingdom, that was worth anything?” It was a question to haunt me after surgery for several days.
When I came ‘round after surgery, as expected, I was paranoid. On life support, with a mechanical lung controlling my breathing, I felt totally out of control. I tried writing in the air with my finger, “How fast should I breathe?” The answer… “The machine breathes for you.” Panic, as I wondered what would happen if anything went wrong when no one was near and I couldn’t shout for attention. Fortunately, I was able to sleep through most of that stressful period and, in time, made a recovery. But the question still haunted me, “What have I done…?”
It’s easy to try to rationalize at such times…I tried to assemble a list…published works, public concerts, recordings, teaching in music camps, inspiring young people, etc. But, truly, deep down those things cost me nothing…they were totally self-gratifying. So it was that, shortly after, my wife and I offered for full time ministry as auxiliary captains.
Like other officers, continued education was necessary. I went (almost by accident) to a seminar in Los Angeles. Good chance to meet up with friends, I thought. It was, but God was there to meet me, too. As I walked into the hall for the seminar I saw its title, “How to Plant a Church.” It set me on fire and, wandering around the bookstore later, I saw that Fuller offered a course in church diagnosis, “Diagnosis with Impact.” It was a 15-month internship under Carl F. George, arguably the finest diagnostician in the country. The Army agreed to let me train, and I knew at I had found the destiny that beckoned me to this country eleven years earlier. Eleven years in the wilderness trying to find the “promised land” that God had called me to!
It has been an exciting ministry, working on the cutting edge of church growth and health. And, since it has inevitably pointed to the need for change, resistance has been stiff over many years, but not unexpected. God warned me it would be so, and there are so many times that I have been aware of the Evil One working (even through good people) against endeavors to break the spirit of lethargy that has lulled us into resisting anything that takes us outside of our comfort zone. I started, at one time, to list the events when the Evil One tried to take me out of the ministry…attacking my health, and trying to get at me through attacks on my family. I believe in a devil who prowls around looking for people to devour.
But I am still here. God has been merciful and I have a strong conviction that he still has a vital work for me to do. I constantly tell Satan to get behind me (not behind me, you understand, but behind me…out of the way) and, I believe, God has allowed me these special years for a purpose yet to be fully revealed and totally fulfilled. Where will the next “door” open, I wonder?
I am his tool, and my constant plea to him is, “Master, speak, thy servant heareth.”
May that also be true for each of my readers.
(Note: We’ll return to the major’s series in the next issue.)