I met my wife Jan at our local church in London after I had been attending regularly for about four years. I wanted to become a Bible study leader, and I was training with someone who led a large Bible study in the newly opened church hall. One evening, Jan came to that group. From what she later told me, she rather liked the way that I led the group. We had a conversation afterwards, and things really moved on from there. We dated for some time, and then God led us into marriage in 1983.
My wife and I listened quite a lot to Premier Christian Radio, and Dr. Michael Youssef always had the 9 o'clock slot. We found him to be someone who is not afraid to stand for the Truth and challenge those who are wandering away from Biblical faith. I had encountered liberal theology in my teens, and listening to Dr. Youssef was truly refreshing. Little did I know at the time how much one of his books would help me.
"God does hear our prayers of brokenness—and He does answer."
When Jan developed cancer seven years ago, she believed God was telling her to walk through this by faith. This is what she wanted to do, and so she did. We were encouraged in that walk by what seemed to be a word from God that she was going to be healed. But her condition deteriorated seriously towards the end of 2020, and she was admitted to hospital. To the surprise of the medical team, she died suddenly within 24 hours. I wasn't even able to get to the hospital to be with her before she died.
All of this left me with deep questions. I was not angry with God; I wasn't bitter. But I was left with a great deal of pain and questions, like "Why Lord? Why have You allowed this to happen? You know how precious she was to me."
In this context, the message of Dr. Youssef's book Life-Changing Prayers helped me immensely. Reading the chapter on the prayer of Hannah helped me to realize that I had been praying prayers of brokenness to God. What I found most helpful was Dr. Youssef's assurance that God does hear our prayers of brokenness—and He does answer. Since then, although I don't have the complete answer, the Lord has started to reveal to me some of the reasons why Jan was taken home.
God certainly has a plan, and I'm convinced that He does have a purpose for my life moving forward. That was something that motivated Jan and me. Having retired, we believed that God would call us into some form of Christian ministry—probably in the area of intercessory prayer or praying for healing. We felt that this was going to be the call of God on our lives. But with her death, the question became "Well Lord, what are You saying now? All these plans and ideas that we had together seem to be shattered."
In all of this, God has spoken to me about restoration. Many messages of Dr. Youssef speak to times when God's people go through difficult situations but then God leads them forward. God does have a destiny for each of our lives in Christ. This helps reassure me.
I've spent a great deal of time over the past year just being alone with God and praying. As I speak to Him, He speaks to me. He is leading me forward. Through it all, the Biblical teaching of Dr. Youssef has been there to inspire, encourage, and uplift me. His teaching is where the rubber hits the road—particularly in the days when life is difficult, things are hard, and there are unanswered questions in your life. These are the realities that Leading The Way speaks to, and it's deeply encouraging.