The study of Joshua 3:1-17 to 4:1-7 talks about the crossing of the Jordan river. Joshua wanted the 12 tribes of Israel to be recognized and so the Israelis built an altar of 12 stones as a monument to them. And each time someone saw those 12 stones they would be reminded of God’s greatness and the miracles He had accomplished.
The only one that could have done the miracles or stones listed below regarding my life would be God. They are not examples of fate or luck. They are all examples which were out of my control that only God could have done. I find no other explanation for them.
My favorite verse is Hebrews 13:5 which says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
David Naslund, a friend of mine, said that I should make a list of the miracles that God has done in my own life. So here they are:
Insulin-dependent Diabetes type 1 – In August of 1957, my parents discovered that I had diabetes type 1 where you have to inject insulin in your body every time you eat something. At 5 years old I was drinking a lot of water and peeing right after. I knew at the time that I was not normal like other children. I couldn’t eat candy or cake with frosting or strawberry ice cream. And I couldn’t go to children’s camps like other kids my age. My regimen was very restrictive. My mother had to weigh out my meals on a food scale and give me my allotted portions of food. They told me with my type of diabetes I would probably only live fo r 30 years because diabetics have severe problems with their feet, eyes, and kidneys. Through the years I met different people with type 1 diabetes and many suffered from the things I was told. Many went blind or had bad circulation that affected their eyes, feet, and liver. But aside from the high and low blood sugars that I had through the years, my family were missionaries in Spain for 19 years. I have two daughters who are married plus 5 grandchildren. In 2007, I received a diabetic gold medal from the company Joslin for having diabetes for 50 years. I t is a miracle I am still alive in May of 2010. For me this is proof that God has taken care of me.
Christian Club in Mission Viejo. Back in September of 1970, when I was just 17, there were no christian clubs on campus at Mission Viejo High School, California and this was during the era of the “Jesus Revolution” with things happening in Costa Mesa at Calvary Chapel with Chuck Smith and the band Love Song. This all I surprised me as I just started to attend. We had moved from Costa Mesa. But I recall during this time meeting everyday with student Andy Adams at the school breaks to pray. And after a few weeks of praying, our home church was going to have an event with Athletes in Accion and I wanted others to know about it. So I went to the High School principle’s office and asked him for permission to put up some posters. He told me I should talk with teacher Gary Westover first. Mr. Westover had made a great impression on my mind and I kind of thought he could possibly be a christian. Well it turns out, he was! When we met he told me that some teachers had been praying about opening up a Christian club on campus but wanted a student first to come and solicit this, so I was the first! And from that day that is how the Young Life christian club was started at Mission Viejo H.S. And many came to know the Lord through that club. And in 1996, I found the club was still functioning. Today in 2010, it still exists under the name Christian Club.
- Centro de Amparo. As High School was coming to a close for me in 1971, being in twelve grade, I wanted to do something with my life for the Lord during the summer. I wanted to go down to work in México with Youth Unlimited Gospel Outreach (YUGO) with their main center in El Centro working across the border in Mexico in small villages. But nothing was available. Then I discovered I could serve in Yosemite National Park (which I thoroughly loved because we as a family went there each year for vacation. My mom was the first white baby born there). So to do this, I had to go to sessions at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California. One of the books I read while there really changed my life. It was by Dietrich Bonhoffer called The Cost of Discipleship. Well, I completed the sessions and I was already to go to Yosemite to see what God would do next in my life I got a telephone call telling me that the job was filled. They wouldn’t need me! And at the point I became very depressed. What was I going to during the summer? I had made all these plans and I was willing to make the sacrifice with my diabetes. Mind you, no blood testing monitors even existed in 1971! I would have to take shots before each meal, watch my food intake, watch my body signs of high or low blood sugars, and be ready for anything. But now, my whole summer seemed shot. And all the sessions I went to just seemed to be a waste. But shortly thereafter, I got another phone call asking me if I would like to work in an orphanage called Centro de Amparo, run by Ken Stroman, down below Ensenada. I was flabbergasted and said “yes”! God again had done a miracle in my life. And I was down in this orphanage for 3 months during the summer . God taught me and used me in ways I had never imagined before while down there! Another miracle in my life!
UC Irvine – In 1971, I graduated from Mission Viejo High School. I wanted to go to UC Irvine which was just a few miles from our house. I could ride a bicycle there and back. But my grades weren’t high enough to get accepted there. But I remember praying a lot about this situation. Then one day I received a letter in the mail stating that I was accepted and so I studied there for the next 4 years. This was incredible to me and even today I am still not sure how I got in. Another miracle of God in my life!
Thrown a curve ball – In June of 1975, I married my beautiful wife Nanette. She was a missionary kid and her parents were Burt and Glenna Clark with Wycliffe Bible Translators in the Philippines. My Aunt and Uncle, Ron and Joyce Swick, were also missionaries with Wycliffe translating the Bible in Papua New Guinea. Nanette and I agreed that we should join Wycliffe because we believed that it was very important that people have the Word of God in their own language. So after our marriage, we were prepared to go to SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics) in order to prepare ourselves for this ministry. But after having a meeting with a man from Wycliffe telling him we were ready to go, he told us then that Wycliffe would not accept me because of my Diabetes. He told me that I could not live in a jungle situation. With this news my wife and I were very affected. It appeared that our world and our plans had come crashing down. This was the only plan we had for our lives! This is what we had studied for through High School and College years and prepared ourselves for, even marrying one another. But like all the other stories related to God, after much prayer and consulting others, we began to see the hand of God move in ways we never even expected. We ended up going to Spain with Greater Europe Mission in June of 1982 and being in Europe my sugar diabetes was not an issue. But God also showed me He had a sense of humor. For example, I remember studying Spanish in the University and taking tests in Spanish and having a hard time with “por y para” and “ser y estar” and after taking the final test saying to myself, “I will never take Spanish again!” but I ended up in Spain for 19 years. Another miracle!
Loss of Support – I remember before 1982 that Nanette and I had to raise support with Greater Europe Mission as missionaries going to Spain. During this time our home church of Calvary Church of Santa Ana was in the process of supporting us economically in order that we might go to Spain. During this time we traveled over to some friends house to eat dinner with them. After eating, we finished and headed back to our apartment. But that particular night I had a low blood sugar. I was the driver and was turning onto the off ramp to the freeway. The cars were headed my way. So Nanette grabbed the stearing wheel from me, we crossed a bridge, and then I turned into a Taco Bell and hit a parked car. The people inside the Taco Bell saw the accident and immediately called an ambulance. After it arrived, the paramedics took my blood sugar and it was 22. A normal person is from 80 to 120 so I was way low and they were surprised I was still awake. They took me to the Hosìtal which was down the street and very close to our home church. Later, when I was better a thought went through my head. I realized that because of this low blood sugar, our church would probably not support us. My thoughts were that my diabetes had once again affected everything. I was believing the worst but despite it all, the church decided to support us as missionaries. Once again, God did a miracle!
Birth of April – On April 4, 1984, my wife gave birth to our daughter April on my wife´s birthday. This was a true miracle of God! We were in a cramped apartment in Barcelona and I had to take my daughter Megan on the metro to school each day. My wife being pregnant went through a terrible upheaval in her life. Her body was worn out just from the stress she had endured not being able to communicate well in spanish, not having her family there to encourage her, living in a strange country, and having her husband go to the University of Barcelona everyday leaving her in solitude. Many times she was all alone with no one with talk to. Furthermore, the pregnancy was not a normal one. She needed vitamin injections everyday in her back muscles according to the doctor. For weeks she was in pain and needed to lie down in bed. But as we got closer to April´s birth, we had to travel and hour and a half by car to help out with a missionary conference of the Evangelical Churches in Girona. There in Girona we stayed at some missionary friend’s apartment but being there, Nanette did not feel good. Something was happening. Our missionary friend Zenia Rendon, who we stayed with, phoned the doctor but since it was Easter, he was gone. There was only a midwife. So we took Nanette to the Girona Hospital in the morning, which was small, and it turned out that Nanette was ready to give birth, amidst all the other problems that I won’t mention. But once again, glory be to God as April was born without any major problems. [And curiously enough, the Spanish Government has in their city hall a book with catholic names in it to register the birth of the baby but the name April is not listed – even though she is a foreigner – so another name was used. But her correct name is listed at the American Consulate in Barcelona].
Apartment paid for?– In 1989, we rented an apartment on the top fifth floor in the town of Salt, Girona on the street of Dr. Ferran. It turned out that we had to find another apartment to live in as the owner wanted to sell the apartment. He wanted to sell it to us but we didn’t have the money. It was too much money. So we started to look for another apartment in the town of 15,000 people as we were basically the only Spanish Evangelical Church in this town that had 35 members from adults to children. We looked and looked in the town but couldn’t find anything to rent. Then one night we got a phone call from a man I didn’t know in California that said he wanted to buy us a place to live in and all we needed to tell him was “yes”. At first I was very suspicious of the call because of the work I had been doing in Spain amongst cult groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I thought it was a scam. I didn’t believe him. But later after talking by phone with him again I decided to take his offer. And in the end, we moved into a brand new apartment for sale bought with his money. And when we moved to Madrid, we sold the apartment and gave him back everything. Another unbelievable miracle of God!
Calling it quits – In 1996, after being in Madrid since 1991, we flew to California on furlough. I wanted to plant an Evangelical Church in the town of Navalcarnero which had 13,000 people and was close to the already formed Spanish church of Mostoles. I was hoping this already established church in Mostoles would help me reach out to start a new church in Navalcarnero. Many from the spanish church went with me and we tried to start a Bible study. We had covered the town itself going door to door with tracts three different times but all in vain. Nothing had happened over a period of 4 years. I was very emotionally affected when we went back to California. I thought to myself that this was the reason we went to Spain to plant a church so that Spaniards could have a true relationship with God. We were there to preach the Gospel but few if any were listening. And writing home letters with reports sent to our supporters were terrible. What could I write them? No one in months had accepted the Lord as Savior!
So when we went on furlough and looking back on our circumstances in Spain, I was at a point of not returning to Spain. All the work we had done appeared to be in vain. I felt like I had been wasting my time when I could have done something else more productive. But I decided before I made the final decision I would return to Madrid once more for an Evangelism Conference they were having at El Escorial and let the Lord speak to me. I wanted Him to tell me if I should come back or call it quits. I flew from Los Angeles, California over to Madrid, Spain and got a car to go to El Escorial (which is about a hour west of Madrid). I was at the Conference for about a week and nothing was happening. I was about ready to “pack my bag” on Spain and call it quits. It was sad to me thinking of all the stuff we had been through. Those who had given so we could be there. And the spiritual fight we had gone through just to be there over the last 14 years with our Spanish brothers in Christ. But as I was heading out the door, going to my car, I saw John Blake who works for DECISION, sitting on a sofa. I thought I should give my good-byes to him before I left. He asked me how I was and I told him the whole story. At that point he said to me he was looking for someone like me who could help him in his work at DECISION.
And with these words, I didn’t know what to say. They were exactly what I had wanted God to say. With these words, I knew we were suppose to come back to Spain so I returned home and then we later came back to Madrid and for the next 3 years I worked at DECISION, taught as an Apologetics professor at the Bible Seminary SEFOVAN, did demographic studies of Madrid and studies for the FEIEDE, did cult work with Agents for Religious Information, sang with Nanette in the United Evangelical Choir of Spain, and other things. These last 3 years of my life were incredible. Another miracle of God in my life!
Cancerous Brain Tumor – My cancerous brain tumor was discovered in May of 1999 in Madrid. This time in my life and for my family was very stressful. Nanette was working on a CD called “Peregrina-Pilgrim”and only had 3 songs to finish out of 13. April had one month of school at ECA in Madrid left to finish up 10th grade. Megan was in California attending BIOLA UNIVERSITY as a Sophomore. But when I found out I had a cancerous brain tumor in Madrid, my world had fallen apart. They found my brain tumor in an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in a Hospital in Madrid. The doctor gave me just 3 days to be operated on but another gave me 10 days. That was not much time. Both told me if I wasn´t operated on, I would die. I didn’t want to be operated on in Madrid but rather in California near to my family and friends because I had no idea how much time I had left. With all that was occurring and given the time schedule, we had no time to say our good-byes to friends and no time to finish our projects. Despite the time frame, they miraculously they graduated April from the ECA even though she lacked just 1 month. Nanette, as I said, had 3 songs left and she was recording in Adolfo Rivera’s studio.
As she was explaining to him our situation of not being able to finish the CD, he told us that he worked for the airline DELTA in Madrid and could help us. This itself was amazing! I remember waiting in the airport on stand-bye and thinking we were possibly going to get to board and then we were told the plane was full and we would have to wait to see if there was room on the next flight out. At that point, I got depressed. I sat down in a seat and just lamented. I knew I just had a little time to live. But shortly there after, Adolfo talked to someone in the airplane and with that he said we needed to get on the plane so Guillermo Novoa, Gonzalo, and Robert Biddulph got me through customs and carried me on board and Nanette and April followed. Now inside the plane, the pilot wanted a letter from my doctor stating I had cancer because I was acting strange. He needed proof of my condition. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a letter like this but Adolfo told them that I was just nervous about flying, and with this they didn’t ask for a letter and left us alone. And I was so happy just to be next to my wife and my daughter April on a flight back to California. When I arrived in Los Angeles, my parents said when they saw me that I looked like a skeleton because I had lost so much weight from the cancer. But praise God! Once again He did a miracle in my life!
Return to Spain? – My return to Madrid in August 2.000. Like I said, I only had 10 days to be operated on from the time they found my cancerous brain tumor. And precisely on the 10th day, Dr. Dennis Malkasian operated on me at St. Joseph Hospital (another miracle). Before this, the elders at my home church prayed for me. The operation took 10 hours and I was in the hospital for 2 weeks trying to recuperate. I had tubes coming out of my head and jokingly one of my daughters said I looked like a kids orange juice container. Now it is important to remember that Dr. Malkasian told me that we could not return to Spain. My tumor was very dangerous. It was called an “empendymoma” which is cancer that grows inside of a sac that makes your spinal fluid that is found in the brain. Two of his patients with this kind of cancer had died very shortly after being operated on. For this reason he did not want me to return to Spain.
Well, I went through the whole year and seemed to do well with just a few episodes. And close to finishing up one year, he was pleased and asked me “what would I like to do the next time around?” to which I answered, “I would like to return to Spain” (knowing full well he said I couldn’t). But looking at my body with its risks, he decided to let me return to Spain, but only for one year..no more. At that point I was so ecstatic. There are no words to describe how happy I was. And with this, we went back to Madrid for 1 year. My daughter April was able to graduate from the 12th grade at ECA. My wife finished up her CD and we were able to say our “good-byes” to all our friends in Spain. What a joyful time it was knowing I could actually say good-bye. No rush. What satisfaction. What contentment. A miracle without words!
Reoccurance of cancer – In 2006, another difficult trial. During the 7 years the Oncologist doctors wanted me to do an MRI every year to see if the cancer was growing in my skull or not. And every year the MRI was negative. But in June of 2006, they found a new cancer spot was growing near my pituitary gland and my optic nerve. The cancer was in a dangerous position to do gamma knife surgery. They also found cancer growing in my spinal column. All of this news was bad to know but at the same time I was so glad to have lived so long. During the years of 2001 to 2006, being a pastor I was able to marry my daughter Megan with her husband Eric Mendoza (married June 10, 2000) and see their children (my grand kids). I was able to see my other daughter April married to Joshua Allan (married November 15, 2005) and see my grand kids (I have 6 now). I got to play the bass (with one finger on one string) each week in the Hispanic Church at Calvary Church for the worship group on Sundays. I got to call people on the phone each week from church who had cancer and I got to attend some of their funerals.
And I especially was grateful to work under Keith Swift of Instituto InterGlobal teaching online and writing articles in Spanish for the Internet. This was a big gift to me. But despite all these good things, I knew I had cancer once again. And Dr. Malkasian had told me he would not operate on me a second time. The second time he said the cancer comes back faster. So at that point, I did not know what I was going to do. Talking with him, he suggested I do stereo-tactics at UCLA, and that is what I did. Stereo-tactics is basically putting on a mask where radiation beams come at different angles into your brain and focus on one spot. Then afterwards they radiated my whole spine (which left brown spots all over my back and stomach area). It’s like a sunburn but gets better with time. I was there for 6 weeks. I didn’t feel any major pain, but was wobbly after each session. Some people volunteered for 2 weeks to drive me up and back each day except for the weekends. And my daughter April, who was pregnant at the time, stayed with me a the Tiverton house for a bit while I was going through radiation. Then my wife Nanette stayed with me. And several friends came up to see me while I was going through this experience.
Several months later they decided to do an MRI of me to see if the cancer was growing or not. In February, 2007 the MRI showed the cancer was still growing in my spine. Then in May, it was sti ll growing in my spine. At this time I was looking for a solution but I was told they could not radiate me more as they had given me the maximum dose and chemotherapy was a joke. It would only help 16%. So after talking with Dr. Malkasian, I decided to do nothing and “enjoy life” till it was time to go. I figured I probably had 3 to 6 months left. But miracle of miracles, it is now 2010 and I am still around just waiting. Just being alive still is a miracle to me!
Owe huge Debt – And last this miracle which affects most of the people living in large cities. I know it is important to talk with God and tell Him stuff that we are going through. And in these days, many are suffering with the lack of work (layoffs) or lack of money to pay bills. In 2009, we owed the Federal government $3,000 in IRS taxes. This has never happened to me in my entire 32 years of marriage. It wasn’t our fault but we had to pay. I knew what Mathew 6:25-34 said and believed it. I taught it to others as well. God takes care of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field who do not toil nor reap yet we are much more important to Him than them. God gave His only son Jesus to die for our sins on the cross. He paid the price for my sin with his blood. Knowing I have much worth, I went to God in prayer every day praying about this debt we had. Then one day, about a month later, there came in the mail a letter and a check. And with this check and some other money, we were able to pay the debt, Praise God! I was so happy! Another miracle of God. He does everything so that we glorify Him. He alone deserves it! Amen and Amen!
A place to live – I have mentioned above a few miracles that the Lord has done in my life but this last one has really made me happy. In 2006, my wife and I plus my son-in-law Eric Mendoza and my daughter Megan and their two children JohnMark and Marian bought my parents house which was in a great community and right next to a lake (which is weird in Orange County as there are no lakes with houses near them). My parents were selling their house and moving to Oregon and so we wanted to buy the house, selling both our two places, and move in together. We lived downstairs and they lived upstairs in the house that my dad had done a lot of work on. One of my memories of this house took place on November of 2006 when we gave a baby shower for my daughter April.
As you might remember, #12 above goes into my second brain tumor that our daughter April had stayed with me at the Tiverton Hotel in Los Angeles and this was right before we had her baby shower. The baby shower was fantastic and we had over 50 people come. It was a special day for all of us. Then a while after, April’s daughter was born named Lydia Allan.
Also another memory I have was when various great friends came over to visit us like Keith Swift (director of IG) or Jim Phillips (who lives near Barcelona, Spain and published our first cassette there with Master Vision). But later on in 2010 things looked kind of bad. I will list the things that happened. First, the economy of the United States had a debt of $2,5 Trillion dollars and 9.4% had lost their jobs and were out of work. My son-in-law was one of them. My wife was also studying to be a chaplain and after 2 years had gotten her credentials but she still needed to get her Masters and the job she had at a hospital was part time. So between all of us, we couldn’t keep making the payments on Mortgage, Utilities, Property Taxes, etc. The only possibility was to sell the house.
We put it up for sale in May and had to go for a “short sale” in July. Second, on April 15 we found out we owed the Government a lot of money that we could not pay. So we were in debt trying to pay this. Third, our dog named Topaz who was a Cairn Terrier that we bought 13 years ago in Spain died. Fourth, Nanette’s brother Mark died in Tennessee and she went back there for the funeral. Fifth, in August I broke my femur bone (right leg) trying to carry a mattress holder that fell over with me carrying it. I went to a hospital and during the operation they put a titanium plate in with 4 screws. I have been using a cane ever since. But when we got the bill from the hospital, we were in shock. Fortunately some of it was paid for by our Church (Praise God).
Sixth, during all this I was just in prayer every day with Nanette about all these things and more. In John 14:13-14 it says, “All that you ask of the Father in my name, I will do it, so that the Father is glorified in the Son.”(also look at John 15:7, 17; 16:23-26; 1 John 5:14-15). But one of the important parts of this verse is the expression “in my name”. In Bible Times the “name” represented the persons character. It represented who Jesus was and what He wanted to do. We are to ask according to His will and not our own (1 John 5:14-15). I knew this. I also knew what 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 teaches that Paul had a thorn in his flesh that he asked 3 times that it be removed, but it wasn’t. But what is interesting in reading is that it says, “my power is made perfect in your weakness”.
So I realized that all these things that we had been going through in the end would glorify God. He was using all of it to teach us both spiritual maturity. But going back to this miracle of where we now live, it is a miracle to me! Many of the situations I mentioned above have not all changed yet, but God has been glorified! The house is now sold and it took 7 months to sell it which is a miracle in itself! The place where we now live is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, one floor (so I don’t need to go up or down stairs) rental that Judy Evans found for us. It is right in back of our church. It hadn’t even been put on the market yet when we decided to take it. On December 18, 2010 we had over 40 people in our small place from our church group the Home Builders (the church itself has over 3,000 members). It is great! God is so good!!!
-Dennis Swick (Written Wednesday, 12 May 2010)
Cancer is pandemic:
Today 28 million people in the world have cancer.
There are 10 million new cases of cancer worldwide annually.
Cancer causes twelve percent of all deaths on Earth = 7 million annually.
Cancer and its complications will kill one in four people in the Western world.
Ten million North Americans have cancer; 600,000 will die from it this year. (1) www.assistnews.net
1. Saturday, May 15, 2010: “Thank you Dennis for sharing your life story! It’s a beautiful picture of a life transformed that brings glory to God. It reminds us to be thankful for each day, realizing that each one is a gift from his hand. Seeing through a glass darkly now, it’s hard to recognize where all the bumps in the road lead (big as they are), but one day we’ll see Jesus face to face and understand.
because when he has stood the test,
he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus, who said,
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown!”
The Lord bless you, keep you and give you peace….. may you prosper and be in good health just as also your soul is prospering…. We love and appreciate you and Nannett.
-Nancy and for Dick