E-book: God's Bulgarian tapestry (Part 13)
I have a question
Kingdom strikes back
Our balanced attack
Pasta, pizza and Pinocchio
Want more out
Searching for God's will?
Missions International resource pages
by Howard Culbertson
A very weak thread
A teen-age Philip Rodebush came home from the 1989
Nazarene General Assembly in Indianapolis saying: "I've found the girl I'm going to
That girl -- three years younger than he -- was Amy Porter.
Amy was an MK, a missionary kid. She was quite small when her
parents, Jerry and Toni Porter, went as missionaries to the Dominican Republic. Then, she spent
most of her growing-up years in Costa Rica and Guatemala. At that General Assembly, Amy was
attracted to Philip as much as he was to her.
Four years went by. Then one cool, crisp spring evening
they were walking down Sofia's busy Hristo Botev street. Trolleys going both directions rumbled
by, but they preferred to walk. They walked along arm in arm, looking in shop windows on the
first floors of the apartment buildings lining the street.
A lot had happened since Philip and Amy had met at the
General Assembly. Not long after that General Assembly, tragedy struck. Amy hurt her wrist in a
volleyball game in Guatemala. At first she thought it was only a sprain, but the pain didn't go
away. Finally, she went to a doctor. Everyone thought it might be carpal tunnel syndrome. Then,
the worst possible scenario (in human terms) began unfolding. Amy's wrist problem wasn't a
carpal tunnel irritation that routine surgery could remedy. The pain came from a cancerous
growth in her wrist and arm.
Surgeons amputated 16-year-old Amy Porter's arm just
below her elbow. By removing Amy's hand and part of an arm, the doctors knew they were
disabling her. Still, they hoped to leave her cancer-free and give her a healthy and long life.
In the midst of that, Amy adopted something she had read as
her life's motto: "God has every right -- and my permission -- to rearrange my life at any time, in
any way, in order to fulfill His plan for its influence, to His glory." As her story and choice of
motto spread, people were profoundly moved.
Amy enrolled in SNU. Her bright smile and ready Christian
witness affected lots of students. And, of course, there was always Philip hovering around! Then,
in May of her first year at SNU, Amy began having chest pains. Medical test results came back
with disheartening news. Cancer had reappeared in Amy's lungs. She headed back into
When Amy headed to Baltimore to undergo experimental
medical treatment, Philip wondered what he should do about his commitment to Bulgaria.
Should he go ahead as planned. If Amy's condition worsened, would he have to come back early
to the U.S.? He thought about withdrawing from the team.
As he prayed, Philip also considered delaying his departure
for Bulgaria for six months. His three close friends on the team departed in early July without
him. Then, Amy's condition improved and so in early August, Philip left for Bulgaria. He arrived
in Sofia just two weeks after language school started for the others.
In early 1995, Philip sent an E-mail message back to SNU:
"Amy is planning on coming here during her Spring break. . . . Please keep praying. I guess
you know that her tumors have grown."
Philip loves children. His interest in them and in cancer
victims led him to the children's leukemia ward of a Sofia hospital. At first, the hospital was
leery of these American evangelicals. Finally, however, they allowed them to come and play with
the children and tell them a story. They severely warned them, however, not to promote their
religion! The group went at Christmas. To the delight of everyone, Don Moore showed up in a
Santa Claus suit -- but that's another whole story! In the spring, with Amy coming for Easter,
Philip got permission for the group to visit again. That visit would be one of the days Amy was
Before she went to Bulgaria, Amy's hair had fallen out from
her chemotherapy treatments. To keep from being stared at (and to stay warmer), she wore a long
wig. At the hospital, most of the children were also bald from their chemotherapy treatments. So,
when she arrived in that ward, Amy took off her wig. When the children and nurses saw Amy's
missing arm and her bald head, their standoffish attitude disappeared. They knew that she was
one of them.
Amy had made up a story which she told the children. It was
about an Easter bunny who went looking for an egg. Along the way, Amy said, this bunny ran
into problem after problem. But, he never gave up. Amy talked about him going over huge rocks
and through a river and up a mountain. As she told the story through an interpreter, Todd Brant
acted out the bunny's part. Other Mission Corps volunteers played like they were rocks, then a
river and finally the mountain. The children giggled as they listened to the story and watched the
Americans' antics. With the help of the American volunteers, a few of the more energetic
children followed the bunny as he searched for the egg. When Amy finished her story, Philip
"You know," he said to the mothers holding their
little bald-headed children, "Christians also celebrate Easter for a very special reason."
He talked briefly about Christ's death and resurrection and
what that means for all humanity. After story-time was over, the team played with the children a
while. They had brought along scissors, crayons, and colored construction paper. As the children
drifted back to their rooms, the volunteers began visiting them there. Peeking in a small window
in the door of one room, one could see Philip, Amy, and a Bulgarian believer praying with a
What happened that Easter weekend was a miracle in more
than one way. There is only one Bulgarian religious group allowed to work in either an
orphanage or a hospital. The Nazarene volunteers have permission to work in both. Mark Ogden
reported: "After talking with the Evangelical Alliance I feel we are very lucky to be
allowed in there as they are not allowed to work in hospitals. Only the Orthodox Church is
allowed in and they don't go!"
Amy's visit made an ongoing ministry in that children's ward
possible. Would it be happening without her? Probably not. In the spring of 1995, Amy was a
very fragile thread. Still, she was used to complete a crucial part of the tapestry's design.
Amy had another momentous event during her Sofia
weekend. Philip asked her to marry him. Medically, the prognosis was not good. But, even facing
an uncertain future, Amy said "yes" to Philip's proposal. They set December 22 as
their wedding date. That would be six months after Philip returned to the U.S.
Three weeks before her wedding date, Amy Porter died.
Seven months had gone by since her visit to the Sofia hospital ward. The family asked that
relatives and friends contribute to a memorial fund in her honor. That fund aids Nazarene
outreach in that children's cancer ward. The contribution of Amy's fragile thread lives on! . . . [
continue reading ]
Some Mexican thread
|In 1991 a
young Mexican, Rudy Reyes, crossed the U.S./Mexican border headed for Oklahoma. He was
going to Southern Nazarene University to study on a soccer scholarship. As the second group of
volunteers for Bulgaria began forming, Rudy was in his senior year. . . . [ read more ]|
SNU missions course materials and syllabi
Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma
City, OK 73132 | Phone: 405-740-4149 - Fax:
Updated: February 3, 2019
You have permission to reprint what you just read. Use it in your ezine, at your web site or in
your newsletter. Please include the following footer:
Article by Howard Culbertson. For more original content like this, visit: