by Ed and Loretta Williamson

No Other

NAME

One Couple’s Story of Living with Cancer

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Special individuals and organizations impacted our story and the writing of the book. The Evangelical Methodist Church family supported us during our journey with cancer, and many individuals encouraged us to continue writing throughout the years.
Our children, Ben, Danielle, and Nathan, gave support and material for the book. Loretta’s brother, Armand Dion, and especially her sisters, Bernadette and Denise, assisted in the timeline of events and narrative sections.
The many brothers and sisters in Christ at Asbury University; Asbury Seminary; One Mission Society; Wesley Biblical Seminary; Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; and the Global Wesleyan Alliance, who offered to the Lord countless prayers during our journey.
Teen Challenge staff from our CURE Corps days: Shari Hervold, who gave me the incentive to restart working on the book, and Carol Brown Patterson, who made the book a reality.

NO OTHER NAME
5
One Couple’s Story of Living with Cancer
Ed and Loretta Williamson

No Other Name
Copyright © 2016 by Ed and Loretta Williamson
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other — except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Except where otherwise indicated, Bible quotations are taken from New International Version of the Bible. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
ISBN 978-0-9979369-0-2
Printed in the United States of America
Edited by Carol Brown Patterson

i
FOREWORD

One of the most perplexing issues in the Christian life is what to think about divine healing. Was it just for New Testament times or does it happen today? If so, are today’s apparent healings just coincidences? If divine healing does occur today, and it certainly seems to, why doesn’t it occur all the time? And why to some people and not others?
This book will not answer all those questions. But it will bring every reader to the realization that our life here on earth is not primarily about maximum physical health, but about a maximally deep relationship with God.
In many ways this book is a love story — the love of Ed and Loretta. But it is even more about the ways in which Loretta’s bouts with cancer led both of them to drill down to the depths of their love for God.
ii
Loretta’s experiences with cancer ran the gamut: healing by means of medicine; miraculous healing; and, finally, death. In it all were the realities of pain, anger, grief, and uncertainty. Yet, even deeper was the abiding reality of God’s love and care, as testified to by His unchanging Word.
As both Loretta and Ed demonstrate, faith is not some magical formula for getting what we want from God. Faith is the unshakeable certainty that God is good, and that if, indeed, His ways are higher than ours, He can be trusted right to the end.
I said at the outset that this book will not answer all our questions about healing. That may be so, but it will answer any question we may have about the power of God to hold His people firm through life’s severest storms.
Dr. John N. Oswalt Visiting Distinguished Professor of Old Testament
Asbury Theological Seminary
Wilmore, KY iii

DEDICATION

This book is dedicated to our children, who enriched our lives with their faith and courage.
And to all those families who are on their own journey with cancer. iv v
Salvation (healing) is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

PREFACE

“You have cancer.”
These words strike fear in the heart and consume enormous amounts of emotional energy, draining the reservoir without providing a replenishing intake. Within a few hours or days of hearing the pronouncement, physical exhaustion emerges with a weariness that has roots deep inside the person. Loretta and I know this to be true, as we have lived it. Death came calling at our door.
This is the story of our personal journey in a battle against a formidable adversary — cancer. We share our personal struggles and reveal emotional upheavals that came as a result of harmful advice given to us by well-intentioned people, as you will see later in the story. Our children share what it was like for them to have their mother’s body invaded by cancer and how they dealt with thoughts of her impending death.
We share things that were helpful as well as those that hindered us all during this time in the life of our family. We have tried to be vi
vulnerable and open, yet remain positive and encouraging about the medically verified healing that Loretta experienced after her breast cancer had metastasized to her ribs. A few years later, our world was rocked a second time when a different type of cancer was found in her hip joint. How does this fit into our understanding of God and the Bible?
As pastors, we desire to help people understand that God’s presence is with us in sickness and chaos. We also want to demonstrate how one’s faith and trust can grow through the intimacy of a personal relationship with Christ, coupled with a saturation of biblical promises. Much that has passed as the Christian ministry of healing is heartless, mindless, and hurtful in its exploitation of people when they are most vulnerable. Healing scriptures are often wrapped in religious jargon rich in emotion but poor in theology. This warps the scriptural intent, offers a false hope to the unsuspecting and vulnerable, and often results in the destruction of lives and the plundering of the spiritual and material well-being of good people.
The opposite of this is a frozen theology of healing that overreacts to the popular excesses, and confines healing only to the days of the twelve apostles. Wrong thinking about healing has become an albatross around the neck of the believer and robs people of experiencing healing through the ministry of the local church. We have experiential, as well as biblical, proof that God heals today, and we attempt to strike a balance between these two extremes. Our goal is to avoid formulas and simply share the practical insights that helped sustain us and move us forward in our faith in God’s promises for healing, while heeding medical procedures and advice. Our conviction is that healing is a ministry of the local church.vii
We begin by sharing about our early days of knowing Christ and how we met on the streets of New York City while working with a ministry to drug addicts called Teen Challenge. We then walk through the story of how this disease, coupled with the traumas of pastoral ministry, almost brought death to Loretta as well as to the ministry. We battled through many emotion-laden memories in writing these pages. Woven throughout are incidents and experiences that illustrate how God worked in our lives.
We share our answers to the barrage of fears and questions we had: “Why, God? Is there sin in our lives? How can God allow sickness and disaster in a world He created and loves? This is not fair!” Our treatment of these topics is not exhaustive, but we present answers that calmed our fears and satisfied our queries. Everything we had ever preached or taught was now being called into play for practical use and living.
The verses and biblical stories that grounded our faith are shared. A recurring theme of the book is that faith is not a frenzied emotion without intellectual moorings to ground it. Faith is relational, not a substance that is injected into the bloodstream or dropped out of heaven through some spiritual IV. Faith and trust find their anchor in the character and integrity of God, nurtured by the conduit of God’s Word in the context of an interpersonal relationship with Him.
Jesus is known and believed by many to be a prophet; for instance, He is mentioned 72 times in the Koran. We have found that from the moment of our conception in the womb, God has a specific plan for each one’s life — a plan that cannot be fully realized until Jesus transforms us for the journey each has been designed to live. viii
There is no other name but Jesus whereby we are saved and healed (see Acts 4:12). From my vantage point on the platform, I often observed Loretta with her arms lifted in worship and praise to God . . . and in pain. This was especially meaningful when the chorus, No Other Name, was being sung. The words to that chorus are reprinted here:

NO OTHER NAME

Words and music by Robert Gay
No other name but the name of Jesus
No other name but the name of the Lord
No other name but the name of Jesus
Is worthy of glory, and worthy of honor
And worthy of power and all praise.

NO OTHER NAME

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