Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
A cancer diagnosis is devastating, but a group of Wilsonians is coming together to provide support and guidance.
“Honestly, we didn’t have no support at the beginning. We had prayer and our pastor, but many didn’t really know what to say to us, how to comfort us or resources to point us toward,” said Claudia Rhudy, who was diagnosed with breast cancer on Jan. 2, 2018. “We had to figure out all that on our own, and I really don’t want anyone else to deal with that.”
Wilson Community Church rallied around Claudia and Blake Rhudy, holding a fundraiser for the family and providing meals when needed. At the time, Blake was pursuing his master of divinity with the plan to serve with his wife and three children as missionaries around the world.
“We don’t understand exactly why we have to go through this, but we know God has a plan and we trust in him,” Blake told The Wilson Times in May 2018. We believe that in the end, we’ll use this as part of our ministry. Maybe we’re meant to use this experience to help others as they go through the same thing.”
With surgery, radiation and chemotherapy completed, the Rhudys started looking online this summer to find a Christ-centered ministry program and discovered Our Journey of Hope. In August, the couple went to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Georgia for a train-the-trainer course.
“The thing I heard there that hit home was that often cancer is seen as the ‘big C,’ but that isn’t the case,” Blake said. “Christ is the ‘big C’ and cancer is the ‘little C.’”
In October, the couple started training nine people — Ana Olmos, Lynette Miller, Karen Norfleet, Cindy Laramee, Denise Miller, Jami Mooring, Jessica Adcock, Peggy Skinner and Tyler Adcock — who will be commissioned in December through the church as the Cancer Care Ministry team.
“I don’t want this to be a ministry team where we just go to the hospital to visit people who have cancer and sing ‘Kumbaya,’” Blake said. “We want them to tell us how we can serve them.”
The team members represent a diverse group, including cancer survivors and caregivers.
“If another man has a wife with breast cancer and is the same age as we are, I still can’t say, ‘I know exactly what you’re going through’ because I don’t,” Blake said. “God wired us all differently, so we all handle it differently. What I can say is that if you want someone to talk to, I’m here. If you need help with mowing your yard or putting meals on your table, we also can work with other ministry teams to fill those needs.”
He said he admired how even when Claudia was feeling awful and awaiting an appointment, she’d go out of her way to provide support for other patients who needed it.
“I’m just so proud of her and the way she’s been strong throughout it all, providing hope to others,” Blake said. “She always found strength in God to help others, and I think that made my love for her grow even stronger.”
While Claudia is now cancer-free, the couple said their faith in God is stronger than ever.
“The Bible verses that guide us are Philippians 4:6-7: ‘Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus,’” Blake said. “In this ministry, we’ll do that. We’ll thank him for all he’s done and ask him to help others and help us to serve him well. It is going to be hard. Cancer is not a sprint. I wanted it to be, but it is a marathon, a scary marathon.”
The couple anticipates serving those within the Wilson Community Church foundation and those who attend other churches as well as those referred through local doctors and clinics.
“A lot of churches say they minister to people with cancer, but they only put them on the prayer list. If someone is hungry, you better give them a sandwich on top of talking to them about God,” Blake said with a laugh. “That is what we want to do. We want to show them Christ in our actions and the way we love and care for them, but we want to do more.”
Visit www.wccnc.org or call the church at 252-237-6608 for more information on the ministry and outreach.