We believe that stories are one of the most forming realities that God has made. We invite you in to hear and see the Gospel on display within the people at Redemption Gilbert.
It’s a pleasure to introduce you to Mary Donovan!
The chemo is working – it is killing the cancer.
When I first heard those words, I thought “We’re done!” but then the disappointing news came that it’s still a very aggressive cancer and they want to make sure they have every single cell killed. Clinical tests have proven that if they still continue with the program, the results have a higher chance of continued positive results. And so, I’m currently carrying on with the chemo treatment.
It’s not easy, but I have hope. God gives me grace for each day and He’s been faithful through every step of my life’s journey, including this cancer.
Here’s My Redemption Story
I had met my husband, Jack, at his going away to Vietnam party in 1969 and had been dating a buddy of his so our paths didn’t cross until he came home from the war. We started dating and then eventually we got married in 1974 in Massachusetts smack in the middle of the hippy-era. Not being saved and living fully in the full extent of what the hippy era had to offer made the early years of our marriage a little rocky.
Jack was in sales at the time and on one particular sales call a dear man (and then friend), evangelized to Jack for hours and Jack had a come-to-Jesus moment of salvation after that sales call. He had come home super late saved but I was ready to kill him because he had missed dinner and it was late and I hadn’t received a phone call from him letting me know he was okay.
He walked in from this sales-call-turned-salvation-moment earnestly telling me “Mary, I know you’re mad at me and I don’t blame you for being mad at me. But I don’t really know how to explain what has happened to me. But I just want you to know I’m saved by Jesus. I know that this big burden of sin that has been weighing on my shoulders that I’ve been carrying for years has been lifted.”
Because of the way we had been living, at first I thought he was stoned or drunk, but in the days and weeks following, I could see the seriousness and earnestness and the changedness in him.
In the days following that night, he would pour over the gospels and would exclaim “Mary! Look at this! Listen to this!” and I could see clearly that this was a changed man I was married to.
In the days following the same man who had led my husband to the Lord, called me to apologize for his lateness and to make sure I was okay and to invite both of us to a bible study he and his wife were hosting in his home. We weren’t really going to church much and because I could see this change in my husband and wondered at it, I agreed to go with.
Hearing the same truth my husband had heard, I began to feel convicted of my sin and began to read through the gospels for myself.
Hearing some of the fundamentals of faith through this bible study, God began to sow seeds in my heart drawing me to Him that grew and started to change my heart – that was even more amplified in seeing my husband’s transformation firsthand.
I don’t have an exact moment that I surrendered my life to Christ the way my husband did. But it was through those early months at that bible study and after beginning to attend a good church in Massachusetts that I heard Ephesians 2:8-9 and I knew that through this season that God had changed my heart and had claimed me as His own. God had solidified this transformation in continuing to hear the truth about Jesus through scripture.
Jack’s job led us to Wisconsin where we raised our children and got involved in a church that eventually led us out to Arizona where we found East Valley Bible Church, now Redemption Gilbert. I love our church. And I love and am very confident in our church leadership. I’m confident in their humility and desire to seek truth from scripture and Godly counsel. And in getting to work alongside the men and leadership at our church, I can confirm that these are good men. Full of grace and humility. They’re not perfect, but they’re good leaders. I can’t thank this church enough for how it’s helped in grounding me in God’s word. I’m thankful for Tom, for Tim, for Tyler, for Paul for consistently teaching me His truth.
I’ve listened to decades of rich teaching that has laid my foundation of God’s Sovereignty and knowing of His love for me has helped me and continues to help me battle this latest trial.
I know it has. I know He loves me. I know He cares for me. I know He is Sovereign over this cancer so much to the point that I haven’t even gotten angry over this cancer. I’ve had to lean into Scripture and these decades of truth to truly “be anxious for nothing because He cares for me.” He is with me through this.
One of the first things I did when I found out about this cancer is to go back to this article that I had been given to read by one of the Pastors here at Redemption Gilbert written by John Piper. And the truth from the article that was based on Scripture just broke me when I read that my cancer is going to make me need Jesus and that it was going to make me love Jesus.
I can be independent and act like I don’t need Him and other people but through reading that truth I began to lean hard into my need for Jesus and my need for others to help me shoulder this burden through prayer and tangible help.
I can truly say Jesus and this body of Christ at Redemption Gilbert and my family have been with me every single step of this journey. I’m thankful for the prayers of my family and friends in this hard season of mine.
I don’t want to hide from this trial.
In the beginning of all this cancer, Jack + I made a conscious decision to lay this burden down to first the leadership of our church and then to the staff and our friends and family. In this season I’ve seen firsthand and been the benefit of so many tangible answered prayers because of this trial.
So no, I don’t get angry at this, it’s allowed by my Jesus to grow my love for Him and His people.
Occasionally, I’ll get a little fearful of getting really really sick and get anxious wondering if my husband and my kids will be okay with how sick I am getting.