Stephen J. Stirling: An Open Letter to My Friends at Seminaries and Institutes

My dear friends,

I thought I would take this opportunity to send out one final message.  (Oh, my, that sounds awful.  in its ponderous implications.)  No, I don’t intend to die — not yet.  Though my battle with cancer continues to go on. What I am saying is, that with the restructuring of the areas of the Southwest, I may not be seeing some of my friends of the former Phoenix Valley again – and I am anxious that you know how I appreciate my professional and personal relationships with many of you.

Thank you – so many of you – for your prayers and your most heartfelt petitions to heaven on my behalf.  Many of those prayers have been offered on the altars of the most sacred places on earth, and I am grateful.  I suppose one of the grand lessons on my path to more powerful, moving faith has been gratitude – to a loving Father in Heaven and to his children who have, I know, prayed with their families for my recovery.  I continue to apply myself that those prayers may be effectually answered.

My fondest dream and desire is that I might return to the classroom in August, to join you in the sacred effort to teach the youth of Zion the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Ours is a holy trust, and it has been one of the great blessings of my life to work with some of the finest men and women in the world in fulfilling that trust.  My heartfelt commitment to serving them and our Father’s children is a singular lesson I have learned in watching my colleagues who have provided the example of what a teacher should be.  Whatever I have left of life, I dedicate to that kind of service on behalf of my Savior to his children.  My life obviously does not belong to me.  (Indeed, in a sense, it never did.)  But in allowing me to live another day (or many days), I am impressed with the responsibility I have to serve to the end, and to serve selflessly.

Finally, I appreciate the Christ-like love I have watched in those I have worked with.   From my brethren and sisters of Seminaries and Institutes I have learned the meaning of charity.  If I may incorporate that charity into my life, I will have learned something worth living for.

Gratitude, service, and love are the greatest lessons I have gleaned thus far in my battle for life.  And I am, again, thankful for those blessings of my education.  If I emerge from this experience with only those lessons learned, I will have been amply blessed.  My Heavenly Father has been good to me and I have seen great miracles of healing and of the companionship of the Spirit.

But, in sum, where do we stand at this point?  What do we know for sure?  Well, not much more than we knew 6 months ago, which is slightly frustrating.  Doctors who examine the tests believe that the cancer, or better said, the tumor, is gone – but the answer does not get much more definitive than that so far.  And yet — considering the malignancy of the melanoma – that is a miracle in itself.  I feel that I have been cleansed.  I am gaining weight again, my spirits are generally well, and I have been blessed with the very best of caregivers — Diane.  Still, the war goes on.  The pain in my throat persists.  (That pain is likely the residual result of radiation and chemotherapy.  In other words, I now suffer from the cure, now that the disease has fled.  Ironic.)

My affirmations and confidence, however, are unchanged. I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and have a testimony of his personal interest and involvement in my life.  I know that I am a child of God and know the joy that comes from a witness of that identity.  I am a survivor of mortality – under the most desperate of circumstances — and intend to continue to qualify for survival – by fighting for life and living.  And I burn with a commitment to serve others with the time I have left (hopefully a lot of it) — and the capacity I am given to offer that service.

Life has been good to me – which is by no means a line of farewell, but rather an invitation for us all to smile, take a deep breath, and join in the adventure together – because in all the best ways, life just continues to get better. That is our promise of the future.  May the Lord bless us all with that vision.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.



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2 thoughts on “Stephen J. Stirling: An Open Letter to My Friends at Seminaries and Institutes

  1. Noel Brettoner

    Dear Mr Stirling,

    Many thanks for the summary & update of the past few weeks.
    My prayer continues to be for complete Healing, His inner Joy & Peace (for you & all the family), and His Grace, day by day.

    God Bless you, and thankyou for all you have & continue to do, and the amazing testimony of your life.

  2. Darwin

    Your thoughts expressed in your open letter (as I understand, addressed to a particular group but intended for publication) reminded me of a quote:

    “Having seen what my injuries were, I knew it was not necessary to die.” Lieut.-Gen. Sir Steuart Pringle (who was seriously injured in an IRA car bomb in 1981).

    And your admirable attitude reminds me of a poem by Robert Browning”

    One who never turned his back but
    marched breast forward,
    Never doubted clouds would break,
    Never dreamed, thought right were
    worsted, wrong would triumph.
    Held we fall to rise, are baffled
    to fight better,
    Sleep to wake.

    These heroic qualities are evident in your wife as well, as she too has overcome much. Thus it is only natural that your children emulate your heroic natures as you have both taught them by precept and example.

    In offspring, there is often an impatient tendency to, shall we say, be over-adventurous? Perhaps even injudicious?


    I have read the hard-core pixie’s book in which she eschewed the need for security.

    I can relate. I have had occasion where I myself have eschewed the need for “back-up” as it were.

    But…I am exceptionally capable in such things. I have worked very hard to become so.

    This makes a difference.

    She states her position that those around her would protect her.

    Those around her LOVE her and of course would WANT to protect her. That does not mean they are capable.

    This makes a difference. Between life and death.

    Not seeking to offend, but the more fans one has then the larger the number of “deranged” fans one has.

    It is a simple matter of mathematics.

    We have seen this in action this past weekend with Lindsey’s friend Christina Grimmie…and woman who ALSO loved God and sought to serve him. Which pleases God but not the adversary. And Christina Grimmie was murdered by a deranged fan at a meet and greet.

    Lindsey has also bravely stood against and spoken out against human trafficking. An action which pleases everybody except the human traffickers.

    Trained Security people can also become friends. And a person can never have too many friends.

    Her management team should be able to find competent people.


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