Friday, October 19, 2007

The story of Christy, by Wayne

Christy’s mother, born in 1918, was appropriately named Faith. She, with her mother Bessie, went to South Africa from England at 16 years old on a family inheritance to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. While in South Africa, Faith was written to by a former acquaintance in England named Richard Haws. They had a long-distance courtship and he proposed, ring and all, via mail. She accepted his proposal, and he moved to Africa to marry her shortly after. They lived in Sabie, Transval, South Africa, where Christy was born on August 17, 1956. Christy had an older sister, Mary, and a younger brother, Paul, both of whom are still currently living.

Christy had many sweet memories of her early years in Africa, particularly of her Grannie. Grannie was a devoted servant of the Lord Jesus, a godly woman, and was such a kind and loving soul, that to know her was to love her. Both Christy’s mother and grandmother modeled the love of God to Christy, so as to deeply impress her with eternal realities. This godly heritage reminds me of the apostle Paul writing to Timothy, where he says, “I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice, and I am persuaded that in thee also.” 2 Timothy 1:5. Those of us that know Christy have also seen this “unfeigned faith” and devotion toward God, along with an uncommon sweetness toward her fellow man.

Christy’s father decided that they should leave Africa to see his dad back in Canada as he had become quite sick. So the little Haws family left Africa for Canada on Mary’s birthday, April 14, 1965. Christy was 9 years old when they eventually settled in a little cottage in White Rock, BC.

It was about this time that Christy accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as her personal Savior according to Ephesians 2:8 & 9,"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."
When she was about 14 years old Christy was challenged by a godly pastor to not just believe his preaching, but to prove all things in the Word of God. She accepted this challenge and the Lord really opened His Word to her. She just kept yielding more and more to this wonderful God, the eternal lover of her soul. This challenge to prove everything by the Word of God eventually led her out of man-made denominational Christianity, to be gathered simply to the name of Jesus Christ in early 1977.

The summer of 1972 after graduating from high school Christy went to Montreal to help with an evangelical door-to-door outreach that traveled throughout Quebec. Later that year, Christy went to a Bible college near Abbotsford, BC.

In the summer of 1973 Christy was sent to the Yukon to relieve a pastor and his wife that went on holidays for two months. She found herself having to pastor the church, taking the services, etc. She just shared the joy of her life, Jesus, from the Bible.

When Christy returned to the city she was accepted into nurses training at the Vancouver General Hospital. After about a year she realized this was not a career fit for her at all. Christy started working at Bank Cheque Supply in Vancouver.

In those days it was my habit to spend the bus ride to work reading my beloved Bible. One day on the bus, I noticed a girl with long beautiful hair reading a big Bible on the bus. When the passenger next to her got off at his stop, I sat beside her. I noticed her wearing a button that said, "I am eternally grateful to Jesus." I have never forgotten the impression that she made on me that day. I had never met a girl so in love with the Lord Jesus, so full of His Word, such a sweet spirit about her. I was deeply moved. But our paths did not cross again for about six months. During this time I had been praying that I would get to meet her again. As the months went by I told the Lord that as He had showed me His best, I would be better off single than to settle for anything less than His best. One awesome day in December of 1976 Christy came and sat beside me, on my bus. I later learned from Christy that she had been praying about meeting me again too.

I realized early on, and clearly too, that I would never be the only lover in Christy's life, neither would I have the first place in her heart, that place would always be reserved for Jesus. Christy has always been other-worldly; the Lord had really captured her heart and gone away to heaven with it.

We were married Nov 7th, 1977, and a little over a year later our first son Stephen was born February 14th, 1979. Christy called him “Sunshine” with his bubbly laugh and bright blue eyes. But Christy longed for another child. Finally, on January 1st, 1982, when Stephen was almost three, we welcomed little Jeffrey into our world. Jeff was a delightfully fat baby with huge cheeks and lots of rolls and dimples. We didn’t know it then, but our family was complete, with two little boys to fill our lives with joy. Christy really wanted more children, but her health was failing. She had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that had set in shortly after Jeff was born.

In the years following, life was really quite difficult, for she was extremely tired all the time, had food allergies to almost everything, and suffered chronic poor health. We lived in a house full of mold, etc. In spite of this handicap, Christy home schooled Stephen and Jeff at a time when it was very unpopular and considered weird to do so. There was little support available, and very few friends understood. Christy’s love for her boys was the fire that kept her going, she would rather die than give up what she believed to be her calling. In my estimation she succeeded, the evidence cannot be challenged, as in Proverbs 31:28Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” She literally, in love, gave the best that she had to give for her children, and did what she wholeheartedly believed to be God's will for her family.

We had begun to realize that the wet, moldy house that we lived in may be at least partly responsible for Christy’s poor health. I was beginning to think that I was going to lose my precious wife. These were hard years that brought us to our knees often, looking to the Lord to help us. The Lord graciously opened the way for us to buy a house in Richmond. Christy’s health did slowly start to improve.

One of the things that we asked the Lord about in connection with having a house of our own, was that we would be able to use our home to care for people in need. Shortly after we moved to Heather street, people came to us one after the other, sometimes two at a time. Some would stay for a few weeks, some a year or so. Christy and I loved these years of ministering to others. We recently received a letter from Phil Brown who stayed at our place at a time of crisis in his life. His letter is posted on this blog, please read it, it is entitled simply ‘letter from Phil Brown.’

Christy loved the outdoors and preferred gardening over housework any day. We had many very happy times wandering on trails in the mountains. In later years we did a lot of mountain biking together, such as the Kettle Valley railway from Myra Canyon to Naramata in the interior of BC. A romantic day for Christy would be walking hand in hand down a trail with birds twittering in the trees, over pretty much anything else. She was very fit in those days, running or walking miles every day with our German Shepherd dog, Mitsy.

In 2004 we moved from the house on Heather Street to the far west side of Richmond, quite near the famous dike trail that surrounds Richmond. Christy became known to many people that walked on that dike daily, as she could be seen walking very fast in her long flowing colorful skirts, her long wavy greying hair gracing her slight build. She had a smile for everyone; I have been amazed at just how many people knew her in the area. The area is a bird sanctuary; it was also a sanctuary for Christy, and she enjoyed it so much.

Christy was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2005. She refused chemotherapy as her white blood cell count was too low, but was treated with radiation from November 2005 to Jan 2006 and then surgery on February 14th, 2006. This was a very dark time for Christy, and she suffered much from the effects of radiation, especially fatigue and anxiety. We are so grateful that she was not subjected to the additional torture of chemotherapy, and from what we later learned she would not have survived the ordeal. After her recovery from surgery, things were brighter, and the battle seemed to be over for a while. In fact, the day after the surgery, when I brought her home, she insisted on going for a walk on her beloved dike! We walked 2 miles that day; I was amazed how she kept going.

We began to sense that all was not well in April 2006 when she developed persistent rib pains, then later in August her knee pain started. This pain spread to her mid back and by February of 2007 it was unbearable. This was probably one of the hardest times of her illness, as she endured great pain and discomfort without knowing what was causing it, and no one understood what was going on. We were desperate to get answers. She pursued various doctors and discovered they all had their own opinion, but none seemed to clue in to what was really happening. Some doctors seemed to feel it was something to do with radiation side effects. It got so bad by early February that Christy was unable to get out of bed on her own, and the pain was so intense it kept her from sleeping. She spent many nights weeping and wondering what was wrong with her.

On February 13, 2007 a naturopath called me with results of a routine blood test and said to drop everything and get Christy to emergency as she had severe hypercalcaemia. Once at the hospital, the doctors put the picture together quickly, and after doing some tests to confirm, they broke the news that the breast cancer had spread to the bones and was advanced, resulting in blood calcium levels being extremely high. She was apparently very close to kidney failure. The calcium levels were treated and Christy was put on pain medication and sent home under palliative care. She was given a prognosis of about 6 months to live.

It initially took only a few anxious hours for her to adjust to the news that she would be dying soon. It was unmistakable to me that she felt the fight was over - not lost, just over. She said of all of her years of research and chasing expensive remedies, treatments, etc… “I am finally free of all that.” Christy made it very clear to the doctors that nothing should be done to prolong her life here on earth. Christy realized that this news of her terminal condition was really the Lord calling her to come home. The Bible verse that Jesus gave to her at that time was from The Song of Solomon 2:10 “My beloved spake and and said unto me, Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.” This has captivated her heart from that time till the present.

Through the mercy of God our business had grown to the point where I was able to leave and care for Christy at home. I am indebted to the office staff and technicians for keeping the bus on track at (Those of you at Priority may never know how much this has meant to Christy and me.) Over the next few months Christy had quite a few radiation treatments to her spine, ribs, hips, and knees to slow the growth of tumors in those areas. The first of these treatments helped her with pain and mobility greatly, but the later treatments were not much use. The second radiation treatment damaged her stomach lining, and she suffered horrible nausea, vomiting and pain. She was put on steroid drugs to help with the inflammation and pain. Soon after this bout, she recovered and for the next few months she actually grew much better! Whether it was due to the radiation/temporary use of steroids or divine intervention, from about mid-May to July she enjoyed a wonderful reprieve. A 'plateau' they called it. Her energy improved, her pain was very minimal, and we went from 72 mg of Hydromorphone a day to 9 mg. As to the duration of this “plateau” the doctors and nurses had no explanation. One nurse clearly told us that there was no other explanation but God! She said with David in Psalm 71:7 & 8 " I am as a wonder to many; but Thou art my strong refuge. Let my mouth be filled with Thy praise and with Thy honor all the day." Her mobility was such that she went for many walks in the neighbourhood and the nearby dike trail. She was able to even drive herself to her sons’ house in Surrey and had an enjoyable though bittersweet visit with her children and grandchildren at the end of May.

As the months went on, she gradually got weaker, and by early September she was unable to make it up and down the stairs and go out for her walks, even with help. Also, being in the wheelchair caused great pain for her, so she became housebound. The pain continued to increase, as did the need for steroids and morphine. She quickly increased to 108mg of Hydromorphone plus breakthrough meds each day. But through all this time as her body grew weaker, her faith grew stronger and the hope of being with her Lord grew brighter and more real! She spent many of her waking hours when she did not have visitors reading or praying, and she experienced complete peace about her circumstances. Not once did she complain bitterly about how unfair it was that she had cancer, and as the disease progressed, so did the sweetness and patience with which she endured her suffering. Around this time her longing to be with her Lord overcame every tie on earth. As far as regrets go, one of the hardest things for dear Christy, having been so richly filled with mother-love, has been the thought of leaving her family. We have both enjoyed parenting, our hearts have been enlarged and taken to the limit in every way through the years, it has been a rich sharing of joy. By the grace of God we have seen the Lord bring two of the sweetest girls in existence just for our boys. Susie and Heidi have become our treasured daughter-in-loves. We now have three granddaughters from Stephen and Susie, and one grandson from Jeff and Heidi (and another one on the way). It has been hard for her to think of leaving these precious ones behind, but thankfully the Lord has recently given her peace about this too.

On Saturday morning of September 23, I left Christy briefly to pick up a brother from the airport. Christy attempted to make it to the on-suite bathroom, she fell onto her back, and could not move. She was wearing a lifeline at the time, pressed the button, the dispatcher called me, I came home quickly and found her on the floor unable to move. Soon after, she was taken by ambulance to the palliative ward of the hospital. Tests showed that vertebrae 5 through 9 were destroyed, and vertebra 9 had been completely replaced by tumor. Likely the tumor had impinged the spinal cord, causing her to lose control of her legs and fall. The doctors told her that likely her legs would soon be paralyzed, bowel and bladder control were gone now. She was fully ready to go then, seeing little point of remaining on earth. But about a week after being in the hospital she was transferred to a hospice facility run by the Salvation Army, and there she has remained, telling others about Jesus whenever she has an opportunity. Since September 23rd she eats nothing but a little bit of watermelon, and drinks various juices and lots of water. As far as it goes she is stable, there hasn’t been much further change. As I sit by her bedside in the evenings, she drifts in and out of sleep, I now notice that her breathing rate drops to 5 breaths a minute during sleep. . . seems very slow to me. When visitors come to encourage her, she is quite bright, lights on high-beam, huge smiles.

I asked her the other day, "why are you still here, my love?" She said, “I am here to bring honor to my Lord and Savior Jesus, and that means I am here just to thank Him and praise Him.” Her prayer request from the beginning of this disease and suffering has been, “ that I would not do anything to dishonor the precious name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that through my suffering and eventual death, many people would know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, and be filled with all the fullness of God.” You can read about this in Ephesians 3:19. She is waiting for Him to say “Rise up, my love, my fair one and come away.” Song of Solomon 2:10 If this means her death, I feel that I would, if I could, step into the flame and go up with her. But, although death for Christy is a present reality, there is an even brighter hope in her soul… That is that the promised return of the Lord Jesus Christ in the rapture could take place before she dies. See 1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 18. Christy has not shown one sign of self pity, but she has shown an ever-increasing desire that everyone around her would know Jesus as Lord and be ready to die with peace and meet God even as she is.

Well, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Priority Crew, friends, neighbors, this is my Christy, my lover and my friend. By faith alone I open my hand after these 30 years together, and prepare to release her to a known and trusted friend, Jesus Christ, my Lord.

We trust in "Him that is able to do far exceedingly above all which we ask or think, according to the power which works in us, to Him be glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages. Amen" Ephesians 3:20 & 21 JND NT.

"As for God His way is perfect" Psalm 18:30.


The Chatty Housewife- said...

Thank you for writing this Wayne. It is a beautiful overview of all that has happened. I loved reading the story of how you met Christy. :)

Jaime Scharf said...

What a testimony to God's grace and glory! There are many things here that I never knew of Christy, but her desire to please her first love was apparent to me soon after first meeting Christy. What a beautiful gift her life has been and continues to be. Even after a soul departs to be with the Lord, there is a legacy that is left behind that continues to bear fruit and I know this will be true with Christy's life as well.

For both Wayne and Christy:

"Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon the earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:23-26

Anonymous said...


Thank you so much for posting those pictures of Christy and making this site. I love her so much and the memories that I have with you all are some of my most precious memories. I will cherish those times all my life.

Monique Summerfield

Anonymous said...

My pain & tears cannot compare to yours, no more so can my joy at having known Christy. I know of course, that your joy and your pain surpass mine, but that her joy, where she is now, eclipses all. You were the consumate parents and ever-loving brother and sister that I needed. I'm so sorry that I'm not in your regular graces anymore, and this colors some of the pain. Know that all is not lost, that I am still pressing on, though prodigal. I love the both of you very much, and I thank God for bringing you into my life.