Young Pastor Turns Struggle With Brain Cancer Into Year of Teachable Moments - by Sam Hodges, Dallas Morning News
I have written several articles about Matt Chandler on this blog, including one in November 2009 before he suffered his seizure and the cancer diagnosis - about an incredible sermon he preached to future pastors at Southern Seminary (click here to watch that sermon at the SBTS website). His sermon was almost prophetic when he was warning these young students to not be like so many preachers in our day who get into the ministry to promote themselves to achieve Western success - selling books and tapes and making much of themselves. Then about 2 weeks later he suffered his severe seizure and the discovery of the mass in his brain.
But in that SBTS sermon, Chandler pointed students to Hebrews 11:32-33 where it does say some Christians will achieve great success such as "shutting the mouths of lions" and raising the dead...but Chandler pointed out that so many preachers today ignore verses 35-37 where the writer says that some will be tortured and sawn in two and living in caves for their faith. Chandler expressed his concern that today's seminary students are watching the big shots, the famous preachers who sell books and are on TV and live the glamorous life, and yearn to be like them, and think they WILL be like them if they can sit at their feet and learn their techniques - after all, who gets invited to preach at chapel to these students? Not the lowly suffering pastors, but the popular, glamorous ones. But Chandler says no, some will be ridiculed and sawn in two so-to-speak, and live extremely difficult lives - and they should be willing to accept that possible fate as ministers or they should get out of the ministry lickity split.
Prophetic words, because just several weeks later Chandler's life moved into that realm of verses 35-37, and God gave him the opportunity to live it himself. He no doubt had been achieving great things for the Lord. By many accounts I've read he is a humble man of modest means and does not draw a large salary or accept money from books or speaking engagements and never sought out to be a big time preacher - in fact his story is that he reluctantly took over as pastor of a dwindling congregation of about 200 people that has grown to over 8000. But in the middle of all of this "success", he suddenly had to begin a walk through surgery and chemo and radiation treatments and uncertainty - that has lasted more than a year now.
But Chandler has used it to teach Christians how to deal with tragedy by trusting in God, that no matter what happens, God will get the glory for it even though we might not see how. He has been very transparent using social media tools to allow people to follow him in his journey.
Chandler doesn't use his pulpit to talk about poor Matt Chandler and all of his trials and tribulations and attacks - like some Baptist preachers do - instead through the last year he has been able to glorify God through the madness, giving thanks that God counted him worthy to suffer for His name's sake to make much of God's name, and little of Matt Chandler.