Portraits of Grace – Darlene Fanning

My name is Darlene Fanning and my family has been missionaries in Bolivia, South America, since 1999. We lived in Bolivia for 14 years, raising our three children there. My husband is now also the Latin and South American director for Anchor Baptist Missions International, with Bolivia being our main focus. So we do a lot of traveling back and forth.


     A few months ago, I did a ladies meeting where the theme was “Stand in Awe…….Be Amazed.” So I started thinking of all the blessings that I have stood in awe of and have been amazed at how the Lord worked in them. I decided to look the word “Awe” up. I was surprised to find that the word awe can be used for fear and wonder. So then I started to think of the difficult times that I have faced that have made me stand in awe in fear! Of course, the one that came to my mind was….sitting in a doctor’s office in Bolivia, hearing the words, “I’m sorry you have malignant breast cancer. You need to get to the United States quickly because I’m afraid it has already spread.”

     It’s one of those moments you see your whole life pass in front of your eyes in a matter of seconds. That moment you feel as if you have been kicked in the stomach and the air you breathe is gone. It seemed the next few days were filled with phone calls to the states, travel arrangements, Dr. appointments, scans, and telling our family. Standing in awe with fear of what was to come but being amazed at how God already knew the outcome and knowing that HE had a plan.

     In the early morning after hearing those fearful words, the Lord woke me up. I’m not sure I had really been asleep. My husband also was awake and we just talked a little bit about everything and cried and prayed. And then our Lord so      graciously, put the words to the song by the Collingsworth family, I Can Trust Jesus, in my heart. The words gave such peace that I can’t explain. We listened to the song over and over, as our wonderful Savior ministered to my heart.

     The next year was filled with surgeries, chemo, radiation, and so much more. But God!! God gave that peace that passeth all understanding. Philippians 4:7 After finishing chemo and radiation, we returned to Bolivia, praying that life would go back to normal. Within six months another spot had come up and the doctor there feared the worst and thought I should get it checked in the states. Returning to the states was again a standing in awe moment. After having it removed and a complete hysterectomy they found yet another spot. My oncologist was confused at what was going on and no explanation why tumors kept coming up. So thankful they were all pre-cancerous!

     If I learned anything thru my cancer journey, it is that I can trust Jesus and you can too. No matter what you are facing, His love and care is so evident. It would take a book to tell about all the things HE has done and is still doing with my life through this. Sometimes we think we are trusting Him, when really we are still trying to hold on to the steering wheel.

     When I found my life was completely out of my control, and there was absolutely nothing that I could do; it was then, I found that I could trust Jesus with my greatest fear!!! The peace I found in Him by trusting Him gave such comfort, just knowing, no matter the outcome, HE had this all under control!! The song says it best, “I can trust Jesus, He never once has failed to meet my needs. He is my strong tower the strength in my weakest hour I can trust Jesus, He takes care of me!!“

Portraits of Grace – Norma Mullinax


     God’s grace that sustains us, because of the meaning associated with the word grace, is often thought of in light of God’s goodness and love. Well, of course, God is good. Everything He has ever done has been called good. Even after each day of creation, God said what He had done was good.

     However, there’s a difference between what is good and what is good for us. Candy tastes good but there were times when I didn’t allow my three daughters to have candy because too much of it was not good for them. In Romans 8:28, the Bible reads, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who the called according to His purpose.” What God affords us through His grace is good, and it is up to Him to decide if things are good for us.

     All the things in my life have worked together for good. Now, that’s a lot of years and decisions and choices and ups and downs and growth and decline and even more. All of that works together.

     You know when you make a really good biscuit, you have to have all the ingredients. Each ingredient in and of itself is not that tasty. As a matter of fact, some of the ingredients are down right distasteful. But, if you mixed all of these together, all of the ingredients together, you have one good tasty biscuit.

     Each experience of life in and of itself can be quite distasteful, even sickening; we must consider the ultimate outcome of God’s grace. What is His purpose for us through this experience? How is He applying His grace to my life? What attitude should I implore for this one ingredient of grace?

     Several years ago, my husband had a routine colonoscopy. When he awakened, the doctor was there to tell him he had cancer, stage four colon and liver cancer. Now, there’s you a potent ingredient. Within an hour, Jerry was in surgery. At the time, we were actively serving God in full-time ministry. The surgeon removed several inches of Jerry’s colon, four-fifths of his liver, twenty-seven lymph nodes, and his appendix. Jerry says that I said the doctor removed his heart, too, but that’s just hearsay.

     You can imagine how traumatic this ingredient was to swallow. Suddenly, Jerry is having chemo treatments, eleven in all. He had numerous CAT scans and PET scans. He was constantly having blood work. He wore on his side a chemo pump for forty-eight hours after his treatments while he taught his high school and college English classes.

     You see, Jerry and I were walking right in the middle of God’s grace; and it wasn’t exactly beautiful. In those moments, considering we were powerless to do anything about the situation, we had to totally depend upon God to make it all good.

     Today, Jerry is totally healthy. We both are active in God’s work. We have eight grandchildren. We learned so much from that one ingredient of God’s grace, and today, we can look back and enjoy a dose of fresh preserves and butter on God’s hot-and-ready biscuit. Now, it’s good.