The Our Journey of Hope program began at Calvary Chapel in St. Petersburg, Fla., through the cancer community. Julie Murphy was home on leave battling stage III breast cancer and saw a segment on the 700 Club television talking about the Our Journey of Hope cancer care ministry. A co-worker at the church was also battling the disease, and together, they decided that after they had finished their treatments, they would start a ministry at their own church to help people like themselves.
Murphy’s plans and hopes were shattered, however, when her friend and co-worker did not survive her battle. God’s plans were not changed. Just three or four months later, she felt God was pressing her to start the ministry, so she began it alone.
Every Our Journey of Hope ministry takes on the shape of the congregation that implements it, and two years later, Calvary Chapel has become a successful outreach, helping so many in its community. But the unique piece of the church’s ministry is the congregation’s support for one another.
“It’s never fun [having to recognize the impact of cancer], but our group is pretty tight-knit and careful with one another,” said Murphy. “Everyone in the group knows if someone is working with someone and whether it’s a hard case. Others will pick up and take care of the person ministering. That’s really great, and it just happened. They designed that themselves.
“We went through about a three-month period where we had six funerals, and two of those were our own team members, so we know it’s so important to come together and build one another up and pray over one another and keep one another encouraged.”
The strength congregation members receive from one another enables them to continue serving others. And at Calvary Chapel, they continue to serve long after the cancer diagnosis. Because, as families impacted by cancer understand, the impact cancer leaves in its wake never goes away. Those affected either mourn a loss, or they are forced to adjust to an entirely new life with many new challenges.
Calvary Chapel’s ongoing commitment to grow and learn how to minister in the St. Petersburg community is likely impacting others far beyond their city’s borders.