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Jesus - The Overcoming Life
by Stella Paterson

This is the account of my friend, Joanne, who is now in the presence of the Saviour she loved and lived for. Jesus was her overcoming Life - both in life and in death.  I was unable to spend time with her as I would have liked but it would have been selfish on my part to keep her from sharing the Life of Jesus with every available person.   A few weeks ago, Joanne gave me permission to share her story with you.

The celebration of Joanne's life and the burial of her remains took place on Thursday, November 8, 2007.  She will be greatly missed by her husband, children, grandchildren and other loved ones, as well as the many, many friends she had.

After living life in the fast lane, along with others of the elite of this city in which we live, Joanne discovered Jesus and He claimed her for His own.  Her life changed that day and she lived to share Him with everyone she knew.  One day we will learn of the numbers of souls who came to Jesus because of Joanne's surrender to Him and His Life in and through her.

When Joanne became ill with liver cancer she was even more determined to share Jesus with others.  It was almost like she was on a campaign to accomplish as much as possible before it was too late. The doctors' prognosis was not good; especially considering that such a vital organ was diseased. Joanne trusted completely in her Lord and said that if He wanted to keep her here He would heal her.  But if He didn't heal her she would go to be with Him.  She called it a "win/win situation", saying "If I am healed I win but if I am not I still win.  My life is in His hands." She longed for the day when she would be in His presence.  And at noon, Sunday, November 4, she went to be with Him - a glorious day for Joanne but a sad day for those left behind to miss her great smile and contagious laugh.

During the past year, after the doctors gave her only weeks to live, Joanne continued touching lives by telling them of Jesus.  The doctors could not understand how she managed to keep going with such an obviously deteriorating body.  What they did not know was that Eternal Life was dwelling in her and the Life of Jesus was not going to leave her body until it was His time.  Eternal Life was so powerful in Joanne that her body just would not quit!

In the last few months, Joanne's eyes were yellow and her skin was brown.  She was quick to tell everyone that it was her liver, failing to do its job, and her skin was "not sun-tanned but brown" from the poison coming from her liver.  The skin was even erupting with sores; the poison trying to find a way out of her body.  This did not stop Joanne.  She met with a few ladies each week to pray for others - she always had someone who needed prayer.  Whenever anyone called to encourage her and say they were praying for her, THEY were the ones coming away encouraged.  Joanne always put others first.  She was consumed with her love for Jesus and wanted to share Him with everyone.  Not one person came away in sadness after spending a few moments with Joanne.  They came away excited about JESUS!

This past summer, a Bible study group met to honor one of its members for her 97th birthday.  Joanne heard about it and wanted to be there too.  She made it the most exciting birthday anyone could wish for.  The ladies wanted to stay and stay, listening to Joanne share about the Life of Jesus.  When they finally left they were encouraged in their walk and their faith in Jesus Son of the Living God.

During her illness, Joanne had experienced words of condemnation from well-meaning church people, telling her the reason she was not healed was because she did not have enough faith or that there was sin in her life.  It didn't take her long to separate herself from those kinds of words and she chose to associate with others who understood her plight as well as her REAL faith in Jesus.

Although the funeral service was a celebration of Joanne's life, it was truly a testimony to the power of a life lived in Christ.  Jesus was central throughout.  He was magnified and glorified in the presence of a good number of unbelievers from the business community in this city. Joanne had planned the service down to the very last detail.  There was no getting off onto the usual religiosity found in so many Christian funeral services.  There was nothing in the whole service that would "turn off" an unbeliever.  And at the end of the service, the minister (a friend of Joanne's) gave opportunity for those desiring to know this Jesus of Joanne's.  While all heads were bowed in that packed church, those wanting Jesus were to look up at the minister and he would acknowledge them.  He simply said "Thank you" as each one of the 25 or more looked up.  He told me afterwards that many of them had eyes brimming with tears as they looked at him.

During the time of visitation with the family following the service, I could not help but notice the visible change in the countenance in some people I had known over the years.  I cannot help but believe that Jesus is now living His Life in them - just as He did in Joanne.  There were faces that once had looked hard, but now, somehow, looked more peaceful.  I came away so excited about what Jesus had done through one life which was sold out to Him.

In closing, I would like to share something that our friend, Bill, the minister, said in his message.  Joanne had asked him to read Psalm 23 and emphasize this one verse: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me..."  Then Bill said that "cancer was only a shadow but Christ was the Light."  A shadow cannot bring harm.  The way Joanne lived, the Light and Life of Jesus was greater than the "shadow" called "cancer".  She did not fear for He was with her - and now she is with Him - forever.

Good bye for now, Joanne.  I'll see you soon.

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