Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Dave Notes on Cancer Surgery on Thursday, August 30

First, I apologize for not keeping this blog updated.  We’ve been dealing with cancer, first on my tongue then more recently in the lymph nodes on the left side of my neck. 

For those of you who may be interested, I’d like to summarize in my own words what is going on, what is coming and some of what we are learning.  We also have a Caring Bridge site that Sheryl set up and is updating periodically. 
We’re very thankful that several friends made donations to Caring Bridge to support that ministry, which is a blessing to so many. 

In the future we will share more on what the Lord is teaching us about faith and changing our lives on duplicated both here and on my PrayerWalking Blog

I’m not a professional writer, so I’ll simply write what I would say in a conversation, which may not always flow logically or systematically. I also won’t be overly concerned with grammar and sentence construction, neither of which I understood well in school...but thank the Lord for spellcheck on my computer!

The cancer in the lymph node on the left side of my neck is about 2 inches, and aggressive. It’s intertwined with the muscle and has already compromised my left jugular vein and some critical nerves. A worst case scenario would involve removing the muscle and jugular vein, then detaching part of my chest pectoral muscle, and reattaching it to the mastoid bone to replace muscle that was removed. They will also be cutting my neck from ear to ear and removing all suspect lymph nodes and one 6mm cancer on the right side.

I have had four surgeries on the right side of my tongue since last October and was cancer free last January. Unfortunately, it has recurred and now includes the neck cancer. This next surgery could involve removing up to 30% more of my tongue and require a graft of skin, tissue and blood vessels from my arm for reconstructive surgery. Obviously, that will mean extensive rehab to learn how to swallow and talk again. 

While both of these cancers are labeled Stage 4, so far they do not believe it has spread throughout my body. While the surgery is about as complicated as it can get, the surgeons are optimistic about its success. The CT's, pathologies and other scans are not perfect so what will actually happen will ultimately depend on what they find in the surgery.

The surgical team at UNMC is one of the best in the country and they are scheduling 14 hours this surgery. Then 6-10 days in the hospital with a feeding tube and a temporary tracheotomy until I can swallow, and am past the high risk for infection. 

After I have healed for about a month, the team proposes 6 weeks of Radiation followed by Chemotherapy. At this point, we don’t know those specifics.

How we are Sharing our Faith with the Doctors: 
I have shared with the Doctors that I trust them as the best I could have and that while they can cut me open, remove bad stuff and rearrange muscles and blood vessels then sew me back up, only God can make those cells join back together and become whole.  I then said, "You are my Doctors, but God is my Healer."

I shared that I believe when God created the cosmos He designed certain atoms to combine into molecules, creating chemicals that would have specific effects on living tissues. Thus God designed medicine into creation as part of His provision for healing.  God also created and designed electrons to move through different metals thus preparing the way for lights, computers, scopes, electronics to test my blood and monitor my heart, and much more.

Last Fall, Dr Dobleman, my ENT Surgeon in the early surgeries responded to me: "You are absolutely correct. In fact God was the first thoracic surgeon when he took a rib from Adam to create Eve." We then talked about how he prays for his patients and asks God for wisdom and help.

I talked about how God desires a partnership between medicine and faith and that we would do our part on the faith side such that we were ready and that hundreds would be praying not only for us but for them all day Thursday. Every doctor has encountered limits to what they know and can can do...and all our doctors have acknowledged it and thanked us.

Thus medicine needs God, but God is not limited to medicine! Doctors are not all knowing, but our God is! Doctors are not all powerful, but our God is! Christians are not immune from the realities of human life. The Bible says that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. We are different in how we go through these things and what we become as we go through them. We either get more beautiful or more bitter...more Christlike or less like Jesus.

How we are praying: While facing straight on the full realities of cancer, we are standing on God's promises...praying and believing for total healing. 

If you ask us, you need to be ready for an honest answer. We will not put on some artificial "faith face" and the words some expect from leaders. Some days God feels distant and Satan tries in various ways, again, to distract our eyes from Jesus. Some days we are full of faith and joy, but we have also had our bad days and at times in tears we then choose to turn our eyes back on Jesus and trust Him for the "Greater Grace" we need for that day which He has promised. 

Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. -James 4:5-8 NASB

My commitment is that "It is better to die in faith than live in doubt."  "Lord, I believe. Help me to overcome my unbelief." is a valid Biblical Prayer. Jesus has experienced everything we are feeling and going through.

How you can pray:
  • I do not want to go through the painful days just ahead and neither does Sheryl...unless the Lord decides that is the best way for Him to accomplish His purposes in allowing this. God did not send this, but He has allowed it and will use it for our good and His Glory.
  • My greatest fear is leaving Sheryl. Many years ago, I promised her I would live longer than her so she would never be alone...I am asking God to help me keep that promise.
  • I know God doesn't need me, but I would like to finish my assignments. As with my triple bypass, my goal is not just survival but rather completing the destiny I feel He put in my heart. 
  • Pray and agree with us as we are asking and believing that the big lump of cancer on my neck will just disappear before surgery...or that when they open me up they see that God had gone in first.
  • Pray with us for the "Greater Grace" we need.
  • Pray that we have wisdom in making various decisions so our witness is clear and Jesus is lifted up in all our words and actions.
  • Like with my bypass, Sheryl is already going into "Command Mode" when needed, but will also face moments of fear and confusion in spiritual attacks. We are not super-spiritual people with great faith...just committed to trusting and obeying our Super, ALL powerful, Great God.
  • This morning I woke up in extreme pain as I have the last few days from the growing tumors and reduced medications prior to surgery.  But I was hearing a hymn in my head that was almost audible. I have been awakened over a dozen times to various hymns in my head with words and music that felt like I had a headset on. This morning as I was crying out to God about extreme pain the tears started uncontrollably flowing as I clearly heard the music and words from a great hymn flowing so clearly: 
Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty! 
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; 
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty!

My God is Holy!  My God is Almighty! 
and God in Mercy again poured out "Greater Grace".

Out of time and I need to finish getting ready to be at UNMC at 5:30 AM.
Sheryl will be handling all communications for the next week or more through Caring Bridge and

Blessings and thank you if you actually read all the way down to this.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Help Cross Training Center with Fireworks Fundraiser Tent

There are a lot of Fireworks tents springing up all over the city this week. Many are fundraisers for great non-profit and ministries in our city. If you buy fireworks this 4th, please support a group you believe in.

If you have not already volunteered to help at a tent please consider helping Brenda Banks at the Cross Training Center's tent at 72nd & L in the Menards parking lot. Many of you are familiar with her mission to provide vocational training and work experience to under educated and disadvantaged youth and adults.  

Set up is tomorrow, Thursday and Friday. Sales begin next Monday the 25th and run through the 4th, with tear down on the 5th. Brenda needs help in all three phases. 

Over the years, Brenda discovered that kids love unpacking, setting up displays and packing shopping bags for customers. Children under 13 need to have someone older with them so this makes a great family helping experience. See the flyer below.

Call: 402-960-9789

Please forward to your friends and church leaders.

Help make a difference and you will experience the Lord's Blessing!


Monday, June 4, 2018

First Responders Homicide PrayerWalk -TONIGHT: Monday, June 4th, 6:00 PM at 11th & Farnam (near South Entrance to Gene Leahy Mall)

Police and News ReportsOne killed, Six injured in Old Market area. 

20 yr-old Jasmine Harris died at NMC following a shooting at 11th & Farnam on Saturday, around 11:45 PM. She was an innocent victim of gang violence at the end of the Taste of Omaha Festival. Six others were injured following a gang altercation which escalated to gunfire.

The six other victims were all treated for non-life threatening injuries at area hospitals and have identified as:
Dewayne Staley Jr., 28
Makye Thomas, 15
Gregory Austin, 19, possible non-gun related injury
Kristen Prater, 16
Velia Vasquez,18
Robert McGhee-Gould, 20

11th & Farnam is one of the the street-side entrances to along the south side of the Gene Leahy Mall right by the two long slides where many of us have taken our families.

This incident may be related to gun violence in the area about a month ago. In 2012 two gangs squared off in a nearby parking lot which left a 19-year-old dead on the first weekend of the College World Series. 

Directions:  At 6:00 PM, meet at 11th & Farnam in front of the south entrance to the Gene Leahy Mall. 
It is my understanding that family and friends will be at the PrayerWalk so we would appreciate those who can help help us care for those grieving and pray into this neighborhood suffering violence from human bloodshed.

Thank You for helping to make a difference in reducing violence in our city.

Monday afternoon Update:
There is a growing community response to this tragic shooting and along with the family of Jasmine Harris could generate a large crowd at the PrayerWalk tonight at 11th & Farnam.

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer will have an news conference at 2:00 PM including Mayor Jean Stothert. The Omaha Downtown Improvement District will be scheduling a community meeting later this week. I am waiting to hear back from the mayor's office but expect participation at the PrayerWalk.

It is important at a time like this in our city for there to be a strong spiritual leadership presence.
We need your help as spiritual leaders to speak and pray healing and peace into our city after this violence.   

Friday, April 20, 2018

First Responders Homicide PrayerWalk: Friday, April 20th 5:30 PM at 6304 N. 99th (North end of Irvington Walmart Parking Lot)

Police and News Reports
KayViaun T. Nelson, 21, was shot about 4:50 p.m. Wednesday while seated in her SUV in the parking lot at the Irvington Walmart Supercenter at 6304 N. 99th. She died about 9:00 PM at Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy. It appears she had been involved in a dispute that may have followed her to Walmart. 

KayViaun had leaves behind a 2 yr old child and a baby of five months. Her father is a minister at Zion Baptist Church and this is the second time her family has suffered violence.  KayViaun's mother, Vanessa Thomas, was fatally shot on Dec. 5, 2009, outside a home near 41st and Sprague Streets.

Directions:  5:30 PM, Friday, meet in the north end of the Irvington Walmart Supercenter parking lot at 6304 N. 99th. 

Thank You for helping to make a difference. We have helped Omaha to reduce aggravated assault in half since 2007. 

Click here for more about First Responders PrayerWalks

Monday, March 5, 2018

A Workshop by Dave Gehrls
Christ For The City International

Wednesdays 7-8:00 PM
March 7th - April 25th (8 Weeks)
Life Church, 8433 W. Center Road, Omaha, NE

Monday, May 15, 2017

Our Annual Ministry Report

This is from our Annual Ministry Report to the CFCI Board. 
Please contact us if you would like more information on any part.

Over the past several years, our ministry here in Omaha has been going through some transition. While we have not retired, the Lord has seemingly changed our focus from building churches to building individuals. In light of that, much of our ministry is personal mentoring of both current and developing leaders. This report will give you an idea of the kinds of things we’ve done in the past year that are impacting many churches, non-profits, businesses, individuals, etc., who are leading teams or congregations of their own.

Sheryl is still technically the Omaha Base Director for Christ For the City International. However, because the international office, as well as the US office, are also located here in Omaha, we have felt it to be more productive to focus on networking organizations together, resourcing current leaders, and training up new leaders. Therefore, the “Base” here does not function according to the parameters of a normal CFCI City Base.

In the past year our ministry has included the following:

Dave & Sheryl together:
Omaha 360 Network, Omaha. Dave attends this network meeting weekly, and Sheryl still goes periodically. This is a network of over 300 non-profits and public agencies including police, FBI, ATF, State & Local government agencies, churches and community groups that are working together towards violence intervention & prevention in the city. Dave has been quite active with all events that come out of this network since 2007. As a result of their efforts, there has been a significant reduction in weapon related violence every year for 10 years now. The Homicide PrayerWalks Dave coordinates function under the Faith Based part of this network. (More in Dave's Individual section)

Faith Leaders’ Breakfasts, Omaha. We are both active in the North Omaha monthly Omaha 360 Faith Leader meetings where there is opportunity to build relationships and network with pastors and leaders in our inner city. There are about 30 people generally in attendance.

CRU Summer Mission, Omaha. During May and June, Sheryl helped to organize, structure, and facilitate two summer mission projects with the local CRU City Director. College students came from around the country to attend this urban ministry experience. The first was 10 days long, and the second focused on integrating your faith into your medical career, and was one week long. There were five students in the first and 10 medical students in the second. This required working with local and national CRU City staff, as well as area ministries and about 40 students from around the country, not all of whom actually came.

Dave taught PrayerWalking to the students and also helped to build, wire, and plumb the bunkhouse where these students were housed during their time in Omaha. 

Hope Center For Kids, Omaha. We’re part of a team who meet to pray for and minister to the Staff at the Hope Center on a monthly basis. There are about 15-20 staff generally present when we go. Sheryl meets with Brenda Block (Hope Center Director) personally periodically for personal encouragement and ministry. Dave is doing some leadership mentoring with two of the staff leaders. 

Cross Training Center, Omaha. We both meet with the founder, Brenda periodically for Pastoral Care of a ministry leader who has a strong desire to see churches and ministries working together. Dave serves in an unofficial role of ministry chaplain and mentor for staff. He meets with Brenda and her staff 2-4 times per month to help with leadership development and ministry growth. 

Spence Counseling, Omaha. We’re part of the personal prayer team for the Directors of Spence Counseling, and periodically meet with them for personal ministry and encouragement, as well as to pray for the center and their staff.

The Beautiful Gate, Omaha. Sheryl meets regularly with Heidi Sampson, the Director, as well as her assistant Director, for ministry and encouragement, as well as to help with ministry development and growth. Sheryl served on her Board for 3 years, and is presently in the process of designing a Volunteer Program for them, and has helped to organize ministry and staff schedules and policies. Dave meets every month or two with Heidi to provide the spiritual father component.

God’s Secret: Women Conference, Omaha. Dave spoke at this conference in August on the topic of PrayerWalking. We took some prayer shawls, and talked about how they are used in various situations. There were about 150 women present from all over the Midwest, representing dozens of churches and prayer groups.

Waypoint Prophetic Prayer Team, Omaha. Sheryl participates on this team monthly, praying for four individuals each time. She serves with a team of about 40 people from Waypoint who make up this ministry. Dave comes whenever the team is shorthanded.

Okontoe Christian Fellowship in Grand Marais, MN. We made 4 trips up there for several days each for personal ministry and encouragement of the leadership team there, as they were facing huge personal health and family situations. Sheryl wrote a rough draft of a Policy Handbook for them, and is in the midst of drafting a “Parent Policy Handbook” for the parents of those students who come to be involved in their residential discipleship program for 6 months to a year. Dave often teaches for the Sunday morning fellowship meetings when we are there and in the past led several staff workshops on leadership. Dave also did some maintenance work projects on the grounds while there.

Brainerd Prayer Group, Brainerd, MN. We’ve made about 6 trips to Brainerd this year to deal with multiple situations there. Dave’s parents have been moved twice, his Dad’s health is not good, and his Mom has completely lost her cognitive abilities.

Additionally, we’ve helped to establish a prayer group that is meeting to pray for healing for one of Dave's childhood friends and our longest term prayer and financial supporter. He has been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and has asked that we agree with him towards healing. 

Community of Grace, Elkhorn. Dave preached several Sunday services there, and we co-taught a Sunday afternoon workshop on the Motivational Gifts of the Spirit, that was attended by about 30 people from that congregation.

Sheryl Individual:
School of Ministry at Life Church in Omaha. Taught several sessions on the character attributes of God for them. There were 12 students, all of whom will be involved in various ministry positions, some here in Omaha, others as far away as Alaska. 

Leadership For Life, Omaha. Sheryl has been facilitating a small coaching group for Leadership for Life this year. We meet monthly. There are 4 of us, and it’s her responsibility to help build their leadership skills, as worked on in their monthly workshops. One leads a non-profit, another heads a nursing team for Better Health, and the third runs his own business.
In addition, I have filled in as a table leader for LFL, as called upon when they are short on staff. This table had 5 other people who all lead businesses or ministries.

Wellness and Hope Counseling Center, Omaha. Sheryl serves as unofficial chaplain and pastoral caregiver for the Director and staff at this counseling center. I meet with her monthly, and with the staff periodically to pray with them and through the facility.

Prayer Shawl Ministry, Omaha (and internationally!). To date, this ministry has had much more impact that I had originally anticipated! Many have dropped away, and the current team consists of 5 women, including myself, who make everything! They represent 5 different churches, and one of them is currently living in Texas. We have distributed well over 700 prayer shawls. They have gone to homicide PrayerWalks to touch moms and other women impacted by homicides. They have also been given into many situations touched by grief or some other heartache, some even internationally. Two of them went to Muslim women, one of whom is from Egypt; the second went to a lady who lives in Algeria. A third one will soon be on its way to Puerto Rico, and was specially made for that climate.

In Addition, in the past year or so, we have made about 200 caps for the NICU babies at Bergan Mercy Hospital. Of the 700 shawls, we have provided about 250 shawls to an area Hospice Chaplain who uses them extensively in ministry to families who are losing loved ones in one way or another. 

In the past year, we have also provided approximately 100 knitted or fleece hats and scarves to a local street ministry to be distributed among the homeless and needy.

Women’s Bible Study, Omaha. For about 8 months Sheryl conducted a Bible Study in our home on the Names and Character of God. I have compiled most of the materials, and they are available now for me to use in other situations. The Bible study had about 10 women, but was discontinued when I had my knee surgery last Fall.

Tentmakers, International, Minneapolis, MN. I have met with the Director, Dick Amundson, several times during the past year to talk about some issues within Tentmakers that need attention. He asked me to submit a plan that would structure some things for them, as well as evaluate the present situation. I spent some time evaluating their history, present structure, and suggesting some direction and rewrite of policies for the future. They have been in existence since 1976 training and equipping leaders for local churches.

Personal Mentoring & Leader Care: This is where much of my time is allocated as follows:
  • 3 women that I meet with every other week for 2+ hours; these are young leaders who are developing, and who I am mentoring. I spend 2-3 hours on the alternating weeks preparing materials for them.
  • 4 ministry leaders that I meet with monthly for 2-3 hours for personal growth and accountability.
  • 5 ministry leaders that I meet with regularly for personal growth and accountability.
  • 10 other women I meet with periodically for their personal encouragement and pastoral care.

Dave Individual:
First Responders Homicide PrayerWalks, Omaha. Dave still heads up this ministry team he co-founded that prays onsite whenever there is a homicide due to violence in the city. First Responders PrayerWalks is an effort to help get the Salt out of the Saltshaker...people out of their pews and into their streets.

Dave has coordinated or led over 400 Homicide or Violence related PrayerWalks since the Fall of 2007 as part of the Omaha 360 VIP Network (Violence Intervention and Prevention). This is not a Christian Network but a Community Network of Police, Government, Social Agencies, Youth Agencies, Neighborhood Associations, Churches and Faith based Ministries that happens to be founded and led by a strong believer Willie Barney.

Here is a chart from police records showing violence in Omaha from 2005-2016. We started PrayerWalks in the fall of 2007 and First Responders Homicide PrayerWalks in January of 2008. Many of those first Homicide PW's were just 3-5 of us in the snow...but as we were faithful God gave us favor. We believe 2008 would have been much higher had we not been praying. Note how the violence trend has gone down in Omaha since 2008 while at the same time violence in many cities has gone up.

Currently, most Homicide PrayerWalks average 30-50 with some over 100 and a couple have been over 200. Police and the gang unit are assigned to each PrayerWalk, Precinct Captains frequently participate and occasionally our mayor. Dave has developed a lead team of several pastors and ministry leaders along with about 75 volunteer prayer warriors form various churches who come as they are available.

In most PrayerWalks the victim's family & friends come along with people from the neighborhood, many of which are un-churched so we now are Pastoring the community on the streets. We have seen people come to Christ right where someone was murdered a few hours earlier. We have seen many miraculous happenings in response to prayer in the streets of our city, as God has given us boldness and favor. As a result of this visibility and responses, Dave often gets invitations to train in PrayerWalking.

NE Family Alliance Board, Lincoln, NE.
Dave has been a member of this board for approximately 20 years now, and has been actively involved with issues that have come before the State Legislature that have impacted the laws of our State. He continues to attend quarterly meetings in Lincoln, as well as periodic phone conferencing with the Director and board of the Alliance.

Dave is currently advising or individually mentoring: 
  • Two church pastors 
  • Five local ministry leaders.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Only Way for America To Truly Be Great Again:

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people." -Proverbs 14:34 NIV
We have been granted a brief reprieve, but we are a deeply divided nation and that division will get deeper and more violent unless we, the church, lead our nation into a revival of repentance and righteousness.