Extension of life leads to new ministry

Eileen Fehlberg.

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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 which was getting more difficult to care for. She needed to use a walking stick, a wheelchair and stronger pain medication. It looked like she wouldn’t make it to the end of the year.

A scan revealed cancer had spread to the bones in 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. However, he said he would present her name to an oncologist 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 per cent chance of success. Though 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 tumours 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 rang and 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. She sent an email to the oncologist and asked, “Is this God, the result of your drugs, or both?”

Towards 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 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. She was hesitant at first, but the impression grew stronger over the next few weeks. So she made an agreement with God. If Brenda, the author, would give her permission to read her book on Facebook, she would do it. She sent a message to Brenda to ask, and the very next day Brenda replied and said, “You can read any of my books on Facebook.” 

Commencing on January 1, 2022, she 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.” 

She has missed a few days due to busyness or illness but to date has done 266 worships. Many of her Facebook friends watch it on her Facebook page. In addition to that, we 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 the 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 (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. Vivien also asked if she could send the link to her sister in another community. Her sister rang 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 finds the messages so helpful she shares them with quite a number of her relatives and friends. 

A lady 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 Pastor John Beck, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries senior remote area pastor, about Jenny, so on his itinerary visiting through the Kimberley he travelled the 75 kilometres 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 would like to thank those who have faithfully supported her throughout 2022. She receives a blessing each time she shares these Bible messages, and she praises God for all the people who are also being blessed.

If you would like to view these worships, you are welcome to invite Eileen Fehlberg to be a friend on your Facebook page or simply google Eileen Fehlberg Facebook. You will have access to all the worships.

This article was originally published in the December 2022 issue of Connect Magazine by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Western Australia.

Don Fehlberg is a retired Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries remote area pastor in Western Australia.

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