Brandon Cobos | Chief Editor
Extension of Life Leads to New Ministry in Australia
Eileen Fehlberg seemed to be losing her battle with breast cancer in the middle of 2021. She had an open cancerous wound on her breast that was getting more difficult to care for. She needed to use a walking stick, a wheelchair, and stronger pain medication. It looked as though she wouldn’t make it to the end of the year.
A scan revealed cancer had spread to her spine, hips, and lungs. A surgeon told her there was nothing he could do and she could only expect to live another 12 months. He said he would present her name to an oncologist, however, to see if they could do anything for her. Within a few days the oncology department rang and wanted to see her.
An oncologist looked at the type of breast cancer she had and offered hope. He said although it was once one of the hardest breast cancers to deal with, it was now one of the easiest. He said she had an 80 percent chance of success. Though he was not offering a cure, she should be in full remission and could hopefully look forward to another 5-10 years of life.
Sensing God’s leading, Eileen went forward with treatment once a week. After about two weeks the cancerous tumors had stopped growing. After six months of treatment, a scan showed all the cancer was gone. She was declared in full remission.
A breast cancer care nurse called, and Eileen asked what she thought of the results. The nurse was excited. She said in all her years of working with breast cancer patients she had never seen such results. Eileen sent an email to the oncologist and asked, “Is this God, the result of your drugs, or both?”
Toward the end of 2021 it began to dawn on Eileen that she would live past Christmas. She had greatly improved and had no more need for pain killers, a wheelchair, or a walking stick. She could do things again.
Out of thankfulness to God she prayed for a ministry. The impression came to read Brenda Walsh’s devotional book Strength for Today and livestream it on Facebook. Eileen was hesitant at first, but the impression grew stronger over the next few weeks. So, she made an agreement with God. If Walsh, the author, gave her permission to read her book on Facebook, she would do it. She sent a message to Walsh to ask, and the very next day she replied and said, “You can read any of my books on Facebook.”
Commencing on January 1, 2022, Eileen recorded her first livestream worship on Facebook. She wasn’t sure if it was working, so she asked if anyone out there could see it. Back came a reply, “Yes, we can see and hear you.”
Eileen has missed only a few days due to busyness or illness and to date has done 266 worships. Many of her Facebook friends watch it on her Facebook page. In addition to that, she send texts to some 160 people daily with the link so they can watch and listen.
Along with reading the devotional, Eileen often tells a relevant Bible story or personal experience. On the Facebook post she provides a list of Bible passages relating to the topic under discussion so people can do further study.
Her watching/listening base has steadily increased, and she now averages around 100 people who participate each day. These include Aboriginal members and contacts, family members, friends and contacts from over the years, and people from overseas.
Eileen does her livestream worship on site at Mamarapha College in Karragullen, Western Australia, one morning each study block, so staff and students can be actively involved. These have been very popular and attract hundreds of views.
Vivien Lawrence, from Maningrida in Arnhem Land, rang to ask if she could use Eileen’s Bible study, which she includes with her Facebook post, in her local Uniting Church meetings. Lawrence also asked if she could send the link to her sister in another community. Later, her sister rang Eileen to say how helpful the messages were for her and asked if she could come to Mamarapha College next year.
Colleen Roberts from Port Augusta reported that she finds the messages so helpful she shares them with a number of her relatives and friends.
A woman by the name of Jenny rang one day and asked about the worship links coming on her texts. She said she was enjoying them but wanted to know who was sending them. She had lent her phone to one of our friends, Georgina, from Fitzroy Crossing, and I saved the number thinking it was Georgina’s new phone number. Jenny was receiving the texts intended for Georgina. She is from Noonkanbah Community in the Kimberley.
“Keep the worship messages coming,” she said. She has rung a number of times for prayer since that time. We told John Beck, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries senior remote area pastor, about Jenny, so on his itinerary visiting through the Kimberley he traveled the 75 kilometers (47 miles) off the highway to visit. Both Jenny and her husband were keen to sign up to come to Mamarapha College in 2023.
Eileen is thankful for her extension of life and thanks those who have faithfully supported her throughout 2022. “I receive a blessing each time I share these Bible messages,” she said, “and praise God for all the people who are also being blessed.”
The original version of this story was posted on the Western Australia Conference news site.