Monday, February 09, 2009

Remembering Mary Ann Serna

Our Mission House Church is mourning the loss of our dear sister in Christ who passed away Saturday evening from brain cancer.

I've posted some photos and a bit of how we celebrated her life yesterday at house church over on the Mission House Church website HERE

This morning I found this article I had written about Mary Ann back in July of last year and I wanted to post it here as a remembrance of her life and the impact she had on me, my family, and our house church family.

[Subversive Underground] Friday, July 04, 2008
by Keith Giles

My friend Mary Anne has cancer. She's sixty one years old and she's been part of our Mission House Church family for almost exactly one year now.

When I first met her she was living at the Salvation Army Hospitality House for the homeless.

For many years Mary Anne had been a school teacher here in Orange County. She loves children and loved teaching. Even today she still misses her classroom and her students.

For a time Mary Anne slept on our sofa. Even though she had a retirement pension from her many years as a teacher, she had cashed it out early to care for her son in his time of need a few years ago. When it came time to retire she found herself out of a job, and out of a house and home.

Eventually God opened a door for Mary Anne at a local retirement home. It was just down the street from us so we got to see her often and she continued to come to our house church gatherings each week.

About a month ago Mary Anne had a 3 inch tumor removed from her brain. You wouldn't believe how quickly she's recovered from her surgery, but there's still a network of melanoma tumors spider-webbed throughout her brain mass.

So, last Sunday our church family gathered around her and laid hands on her and prayed for God to heal her. Children and adults gathered around her and cried out to God for mercy, for healing and for restoration of health.

Afterwards we listened as Mary Anne shared with us about God's peace and how even though the Doctors say she is terminal, she feels fine and full of life. Better yet, she's witnessing God's ministry of reconciliation as her son is restored to her after years of estrangement, and her daughter is being reconciled to her father, and Mary Anne's brother is seeking out a renewed relationship with her after years of separation.

We reflected on how God seems to be using this sickness in Mary Anne's life to radiate healing through her life to heal relationships. Because of this terminal cancer God is restoring a son to his mother, a brother to his sister, and a daughter to her father.

Only God can do this. Only God can heal these wounds and restore these broken relationships.

One of our leaders in the house church, Kelly, remarked on how God's desire is to heal us completely. Not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally and psychologically. God desires to heal us and nurture us inside and out. He delights in making us whole and complete.

We shared together from 2 Corinthians 5, verses 17 through 20, where Paul reminds us: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us."

Each of us in the Body of Christ has been given this same ministry of reconciliation. We are to be peacemakers. Even as Jesus encouraged us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9), we are to be people of peace, people who bring reconciliation in our wake.

So, for today, Mary Anne basks in the peace of God, knowing that He is in control of her life. She knows that God is at work through her sickness, and that for now He is using even this to reconcile her family and restore these relationships. Her hope is that each of them will come to know Jesus as she knows Him, to love Him as she loves Him, and to trust Him as she trusts Him...with her very life.

In time, we pray that God would heal her cancer. We will continue to pray together every time we gather for God's mercy and healing in Mary Anne's body, and until then we will rejoice for the ministry of healing and reconciliation that is radiating out of her in every direction to soften hearts and restore her family.

As Mary Anne said to me last Sunday, "God is faithful."




Like a Mustard Seed said...

we were really glad to have gotten to meet Mary Ann, and heard updates to her increasing pain. consider yourselves blessed by her life, as we're sure you all do. Thanks for re-posting your article, it was really cool to see through your words the relationship that grew over time. god is good and has a plan for her and her children, i'm curious if you've gotten a chance to connect w/her kids @ all? peace, heather

Keith Giles said...

Yes, we're in contact with her daughter in Texas and with her sister.

We're praying to have more contact with her family going forward and hope to connect more at the memorial service coming up.

Thanks for your kind words, my friends.