By Dan Wooding
It was last Sunday (January 1, 2012,) when many in the congregation at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, California, were shocked and surprised when Pastor Chuck Smith, its senior pastor, announced during the morning services that he has lung cancer.
Yet Smith, now in his eighties and the father of the Jesus People Revolution in Southern California, said that he has never smoked in his life.
He gave an exclusive interview to me during the “Meet the Missionaries” event at the church on Saturday, January 7, 2012, where he made a surprise appearance.
“I’m feeling great,” he began. “You know, it’s an interesting thing, with what they say is going on inside of me, that I’m not feeling it at all. There is no pain and I am just rejoicing in the Lord.”
I then asked him when he first heard that he had lung cancer.
“Actually, I do my physical checkups twice a year and they take blood and analyze it and there was one of the factors that was in the blood that was increasing dramatically and so that was an indication that there was something wrong and it did indicate the possibility of cancer,” he said.
“So that instigated a bunch of tests — PET scans, CAT scans, MRI’s (Magnetic resonance imaging) — and the whole thing. It seems like it’s pretty much localized in the area of my middle lobe of the right lung, and so it looks like it’s treatable and so we know it’s in the hands of the Lord so I have no fears.”
Has there been a date set for the surgery?
“No, actually, they’re still analyzing the situation,” said Pastor Chuck. “They’ve taken all the tests and they’re analyzing them now, and then on Tuesday the doctors are going to all meet together and have a conference and they’re going to talk about the strategy and the best way to attack what they’ve discovered.
“So I won’t know until sometime after Tuesday about what they’ve learned and what they want to do. It’s all in the Lord’s hands and I am trusting Him to guide them, and I’m sure He’s guiding me.
“It’s an interesting thing that people expect you to sort of panic, but why?,” he asked, “because I know that God’s on the throne.”
I then asked Pastor Chuck why he decided to announce to the church at the three morning services that he had lung cancer.
“Well you know,” he said, “rumors can get going and they can get so distorted and so I wanted them to hear it directly from me rather than from some other source where they would not maybe get the correct information and I wanted them to hear it from me and know the confidence that I have in the Lord; that He’s on the throne and He’s going to take care of it and I’m not really panicked and I’m not really worried.
“Whatever comes, as I said to them on Sunday, the worst thing that can happen is I could die, but that’s great you know,” he added with a huge smile.
I wondered if he still planned to continue preaching and with his booming voice he said, “Oh my, yes. There will be no giving up on that just and I will be continuing on.”
Will you be preaching tomorrow (January 8)?
“I’ll be preaching tomorrow — you bet.”
Chuck Smith has a busy radio and television schedule with his Pastor’s Perspective program on the K-Wave Radio Network and his weekly update on His Channel (www.hischannel.com,) so would be also be continuing with them all?
“Well of course we’ll continue with them,” he said. “I don’t see any slowing down on either of those.”
On December 27, 2009, Chuck Smith suffered a couple of “minor strokes” and was hospitalized in a local a local hospital, so I asked him how the lung cancer diagnosis differed from this latest situation.
“This is different because with the strokes I was really physically weakened as a result and it took a little longer to rehabilitate from that. But this is something that I expect to just be out for just a short time,” he said.
Finally how can people pray for you Pastor Chuck?
“Well, just pray that the Lord’s will be done because whatever it is, I’m open to Him,” he said.
Since the news came out about Pastor Chuck’s lung cancer, literally thousands of people around the world have been praying for him.
One of them is keyboard legend, Rick Wakeman, who played some benefit concerts for ASSIST at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa as well as other Calvary Chapels.
I asked Wakeman if he would comment on Chuck Smith for me from his home in the UK, from where he has been asking Christians in the British Entertainment field to also pray for him.
Rick said, “I first met Chuck so many years ago now, and what I do remember though is the impact this man had on me, and in many ways still does — I quote him a lot.
“What’s special about Chuck is that he lives in the real world. He is a Christian living in a world that like many of us, he doesn’t like a lot of what is going on, yet he works tirelessly to bring Christianity and decency amongst all the mayhem.
“You only have to look at Calvary Chapel to know that God is with him all the way and will always be so. Even Chuck is human though, and for many, including Chuck, fighting health issues is all part and parcel of the world we live in and a challenge that people like Chuck rise to.
“So many people are constantly in Chuck’s prayers, so I hope that they have put Chuck in theirs. He’s certainly in mine!”