The Bishop of Western Sydney, Ivan Lee, has been diagnosed with a pancreatic tumour.
He had been experiencing some lethargy and symptoms of jaundice. Scans revealed his bile duct was blocked by a tumour on the pancreas.
An operation to place a stent in the duct is scheduled for Wednesday, 7 October, but major surgery is planned for 26 October on several internal organs (the Whipple's operation).
It is a major operation with possible complications and many challenges ahead, including a recovery period of at least three months.
“When Virginia and I were told this alarming news by the doctors, one of my first thoughts was: Here comes the biggest test of my faith in Christ. These have been the hardest days of my life, shedding many tears of deep sadness with my wife and three daughters, and spending moments alone with my Lord." Bishop Lee wrote to his clergy and church workers in Sydney's western region.
"This may sound very odd, but under the load of heavy burdens and a hundred questions, I have been surprised by a calm in my spirit and inner being, and a deep thankfulness to God for the comfort of knowing him and for the joys of Christian ministry, and especially for the wife and daughters the Lord has kindly given me. I am certainly no apostle Paul, but his words “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” became my words in a most personal way. My passion is to help local churches grow and reach their community with the love of Christ, and I long to do more. But I also know that my times are in his hands. Of course, my family and I would value your prayers.” Bishop Lee wrote.