Pete Petersen was a Stephen Ministry volunteer when he was diagnosed with a rare type of brain tumor. Struggling with fear and a crisis of faith, he turned to his friends in Men's Life for help. Their prayer and care carried him through his darkest hours and into a deeper relationship with God and with his fellow man.
I was in the pews at St. John’s on a Sunday in 2005 and a clergy person talked about Stephen Ministry. I had listened to people talk about Stephen Ministry for years, but that particular day struck a chord in me. I volunteered, went through training, and was assigned a parishioner who needed a Stephen Minister.
I was having some health issues at the time, and the doctors couldn’t pinpoint what was going on. Five years later, the doctors saw a change and decided I needed surgery. They found a stage 3, rare brain tumor. The surgeon removed a fair amount of the tumor, and I went through 7 weeks of radiation and 2 years of chemotherapy.
It was during those years that I really needed St. John the Divine the most because I was scared, I was fearful. I started journaling pre-surgery, and those comments were pretty dark. It exposed my lack of faith, and that what I really needed was spiritual help.
Men’s Life was really getting started when I had my symptoms. I got very close to the big group and the small group at the table. My fellow Stephen Ministers as a group cared for me, but it was Men’s Life, and the men who were at my table, that ministered to me the most.
The most amazing first means of help was praying. I went right to two guys that were in my small group and said, ‘I need your help.’ I explained to them what I was going through. They said, ‘We’re going to lay hands on you right now.’ I felt the heat from their hands on my body when they laid their hands on me and prayed for my full recovery.
The treatment was a long process. I continued to journal, but my entries were different - they were a lot more positive. I had a real revelation that God was there, and all I needed to do was embrace the healing process through prayer and walking through faith. I’m certain that the reason I’m here today is because of those men at Men’s Life praying for me, my training as a Stephen Minister, and the cancer support group I helped start with Chip Letton. It was amazing.
Those men still walk with me. The people you meet in those groups are very interested in each other and want everybody to walk in faith. In your small groups you talk about your faith, or lack thereof. I opened up and said, ‘I really need your help’ and they did – they helped me. They get to know you and know what your needs are. We can use each other’s stories to reach out to the new people – to let them know there are other people at the table or in the audience that can help.
Through the good and the bad, the large and small Men’s Life groups and the Stephen Ministers group have always been a great resource for me, and I’ve seen it affect other men in Men’s Life, too.
~ Pete Petersen, as told to Marilyn Gore
Men's Life meets in the Hall Life Center on Tuesday mornings beginning with breakfast at 6:45 am. 20 minutes of spiritual teaching is followed by 30 minutes of small group time. The current study is 'Man of God' led by Clay Lein. For more information, please visit the Men's Life Morning Group page.