CAL Board Member says he has lived to see a bona-fide miracle
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League of North Carolina
MORGANTON – Most Christians, who are really serious about their faith, believe in miracles. But to have God heal you from an illness that promised certain death takes that belief to a whole new level, not only for you but for those who prayed for you. Just ask former brain cancer victim Cheryl Fox, 40, who spent the end of 2007 making funeral arrangements and helping her family brace for her death.
The Rev. Curtis Norris, pastor of Calvary Missionary Methodist Church in Harnett County and a member of the Christian Action League’s Board of Directors, was by his sister’s side as she began to face the prognosis from her doctor in August of that year. Diagnosed with breast cancer earlier in 2007, she had been undergoing radiation three times week and was struggling – even with help from Norris’ church – to keep her and four children afloat financially when the devastating news came.
“That hit me like a ton of bricks. The first think I thought of was my kids. What are they going to do without me? I knew I had to face going home and telling my kids that I was going to die,” Fox said. “It wasn’t that I was scared of dying, but I had to sit my kids down and tell them I only had five months.”
Her siblings and parents were devastated by the news, but tried to put their heartbreak aside to offer support.
“The report was that it was Stage 4, the most advanced stage it could be and the prognosis was one to five months to live,” Norris said. “She was already having headaches, nose bleeds and was going down very quickly. … As a family, we got together to develop a plan to have some infrastructure to be there for her. We talked with her about living wills; I went with her to the funeral home to make arrangements, to pick out the casket. And we went over all the details of the memorial service that I would preach.”
Given no expectation of a medical cure, Cox opted not to take chemotherapy or radiation, but tried to spend as much time as possible with family and friends and enjoying her favorite activities.
“Curtis would come and get me and I’d go horseback riding, go fishing, everything that I loved to do. And I took pictures of everything,” Fox said.
As her health declined, her teenagers and 2-year-old niece that she had raised from infancy inspired her to face each day, she said. “My older children were teenagers so I knew they could take care of themselves in many ways, but the little one, I knew I had to get up to take care of her. She is what kept me out of bed.”
Norris said the family didn’t expect Fox to make it until Thanksgiving. They gathered at her house for the holiday and were more surprised when she made it to Christmas, after which it seemed she began to make a slight turn for the better.
“I started feeling a little stronger, not a lot, just a little; and my color started coming back some,” Fox said. Already a small person, she had lost more than 20 pounds from the illness, but found that she was regaining her appetite and starting to be able to keep some food down.
Fox had made it past the doctor’s five-month prediction, but was still in the grips of illness when she traveled to Olivia in February 2008 to visit with Norris and attend his church, where members had been faithfully praying for her throughout all her medical problems. Little did she know the effects their prayers would have that Wednesday evening.
“The power and presence of the Holy Spirit in that service was phenomenal,” Norris said, describing how he felt led to put the usual order of service aside and go straight to prayer for the sick. “That night, I just felt we needed to lay hands on her and pray for her. There was such an overwhelming sense of God’s presence as people sobbed before the Lord and expressed their faith so directly.”
Fox said she had never experienced what happened next.
“As they started praying for me, it felt like a waterfall rushing through by body, but like a warmth. I really can’t describe the feeling. It was amazing, overwhelming,” Fox said. “You’ve got to understand, these are the most loving and God-fearing people I have ever met in my life.”
Fox wouldn’t find out until her next doctor’s appointment around Easter that her cancer was completely gone.
“At the alter I didn’t automatically say ‘I’m healed,'” Fox said. “But when I felt that rush, that waterfall, I thought to myself, ‘God is cleansing my body; He is cleansing my body of the sickness. …When I went back to the doctor and he told me that the cancer was not there, I got to my feet and raised my hands and just cried out, ‘Thank you, Jesus!’ with tears running down my face.”
The rejoicing spread with the news to Fox’s relatives and to her church family, at least one member of which had already claimed the healing on the night of the prayer service.
“We have a lady in our church, Mae Cox, who is an honored and respected prayer warrior, a very fervent prayer warrior, who said that God had spoken to her that night and that Cheryl was healed,” Norris said. He said the miracle invigorated his entire church and other congregations that had joined the prayer effort.
“It was a tremendous blessing to all who had been in agreement with us,” Norris said. “The thing I remember distinctly was the Holy Spirit impressing on my heart ‘You have lived to see a bona fide miracle.'”
“I have seen other miracles, but for that to happen was nothing less than the hand of God. There was no way it could be a medical miracle because she was not taking any treatments for it,” Norris said.
While she rejoices every day in the healing, Fox said she still faces plenty of struggles.
“I am still not 100 percent. I still have financial struggles. I’m getting ready to go through a divorce. But through all this I know that if God can heal me from a disease that was so bad that I shouldn’t even be here, then God can get me through anything,” she said. “I don’t want to oversimplify things when I talk to other people going through struggles. It was not easy. But I try to share with them that if you keep hoping and praying and keep your eyes on God, you’ll never go wrong.”
“There are times when I don’t know where my next meal’s coming from, or where I’m going to get the baby’s next diapers, but I know that God will make sure I have what I need,” Fox said. “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t feel God’s arms around me. I’ll feel Him saying ‘Cheryl I’m here. I still have you.'”
Norris said he and his sister, the youngest two of four siblings, and just a year apart had been close growing up but had drifted apart when they made different lifestyle choices. Fox had come back to the Lord in 2005 when Norris visited her during a six-week sabbatical.
“When you see the things that she has had to go through. Her husband is currently in prison. She has really been out there trying to survive and the odds have been against her,” Norris said. “Cheryl made some bad decisions years ago and has had to live with the consequences. But her faith is sincere.”
Fox said she would never have made it financially without help from her brother’s church and from her church, Friendly Freewill Baptist. Although she eventually had to move out of her home, fellow believers kept her bills paid when she wasn’t bringing in any income. A couple from Calvary gave her a car and church members made sure her children had gifts at Christmas.
In fact, they had already seen their prayers for Cheryl answered in 2006 after she was diagnosed with macular degeneration.
“It was at the stage where her optometrist said that it was not correctible, and she should prepare herself, because she would be going blind,” Norris said. “We began to pray for her and the doctor was amazed that the degeneration stopped progressing. He asked her if she was a believer. Evidently he was a believer as well.”
Fox had already started making arrangements to get a seeing eye dog when her vision began to improve. Now, she said she doesn’t even wear glasses. She hardly had time to process that healing when the cancer was diagnosed. After all her physical struggles, she said some people ask her if she thinks the cancer is gone forever.
“I tell them God took it away from me and I don’t think He’ll give it back,” Fox said, adding that she sometimes feels guilty when she thinks of others facing similar illnesses and not being healed.
“I don’t know why I got sick or why He chose to heal me, maybe for a testimony, for me to touch somebody else’s life … or when I was sick to make others who are not saved look at me and say ‘that could be me, what if I died tomorrow and my life was not right with God?’ None of us are promised tomorrow,” Fox said. “Through this whole thing, all the hurt and suffering, it is worth every bit of it if one soul is saved. It has been worth it all if one person comes to know Christ.”
Norris said the miracle God performed on his sister continues to bless his congregation, even nearly a year later. In fact, when he asked for testimonies at Calvary’s New Year’s Eve service, the first thing out of his 9-year-old son’s mouth was “God healed my aunt in 2008.”
“It has increased their faith to believe that God is able to do what man says is impossible,” Norris said. “We know that He doesn’t heal in every situation. God is sovereign. But we also know He is able to heal and do abundantly more than we may ask or think.”