Processing a Personal Health Crisis as a Leader : Percy McCray

Processing a Personal Health Crisis as a Leader - Percy McCray - 34 - FrontStage BackStage with Jason Daye

As pastors and ministry leaders, we often come alongside and minister to others when they receive heartbreaking news. But what happens when we receive a challenging medical diagnosis, either for ourselves or for someone in our immediate family? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Percy McCray. Percy has an incredibly unique pastoral calling. As an ordained minister, he has served for nearly 30 years in the cancer care space. He provides leadership to the entire pastoral care team that serves at all five of the hospitals for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Together, Percy and Jason explore some of the unique challenges that we experience as ministry leaders when we receive a tough health diagnosis. They also look at how God can redeem some of these health issues and open doors to new ministry opportunities. 

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Additional Resource Links

Our Journey of Hope – Provides resources to help you launch a cancer care ministry in your local church, as well as a number of resources for patients, caregivers, and more

Health, Hope and Inspiration – Percy’s award-winning podcast designed to help people find answers to questions about cancer, cancer prevention, and overall healthy living.

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Key Insights and Concepts

  • Ministry leaders are often very good at helping others process difficult medical diagnoses but seldom are prepared if the diagnosis is for themself, a spouse, or a child
  • If we receive a difficult health diagnosis we must avoid the temptation to think we are just going to rise above it and not let it affect us
  • Pastors and ministry leaders must remember that we are humans, too. We can allow ourselves to emote when we receive challenging news. God is ok with our emotions.
  • We must be careful not to associate a tough health diagnosis with thinking we have done something wrong, have stepped out of God’s will, or have sinned
  • If you receive a bad health diagnosis, first you need to gather yourself, get still, and receive the news
  • If you receive a bad health diagnosis, you need to identify your inner circle, the immediate community of individuals that you trust. These become your prayer support and the initial group that you can share with and begin processing with.
  • If you receive a bad health diagnosis, find key leaders in your church who can help shoulder some of the ministry burdens while you work through your health issues
  • Do not make the mistake of trying to keep your health diagnosis a complete secret. If things get difficult and there are obvious signs of illness, your congregation will be caught off guard. Include them in the process, as appropriate. We are all on a journey together.
  • “There are times that we are challenged as spiritual leaders, and to a certain extent, we are to be examples to those that are watching us on how to walk and fight the good fight of faith, good, bad or indifferent” – Percy McCray
  • We need to be careful that we do not slip into toxic positivity. Toxic positivity occurs when you try to be positive to such a degree that you do not process what you are feeling and experiencing in a healthy manner
  • Coming through a major health challenge changes one’s perspective on what is important and what is trivial
  • “Don’t waste God’s healing on just being well… There’s something else that God wants to be birthed out of that experience” – Percy McCray
  • Ministering to cancer patients and their families, specifically, is a massive opportunity that most churches are not seizing
  • Do not allow any health diagnosis to define you
  • God is never finished with us. God can use anything, including an illness or diagnosis, to move us forward into new experiences with Him and with our ministry.

Questions for Reflection

  • Have I ever considered how I might react if I or a close family member receives a challenging health diagnosis?
  • Who are the close, trusted people in my life that I can speak with about major health issues?
  • How would I address my church if I received a tough medical diagnosis? Who would be able to help step in and shoulder some of the ministry responsibilities if I was unable?
  • Do I allow myself to be human, or am I often wearing my cape and playing FaithMan or FaithWoman?
  • If I have already experienced major health issues, how did I handle it in relation to our church and my ministry? Are there things I would do differently?
  • Am I allowing the challenges I face to become opportunities to model Christlikeness for our congregation?
  • How can we minister to those experiencing cancer or other health challenges? What would that look like for our church? What steps could we take?
  • How have I seen God use difficulties in my life for His glory and the good of others?

Full-Text Transcript

As pastors and ministry leaders, we often come alongside and minister to others when they receive heartbreaking news. But what happens when we receive a challenging medical diagnosis, either for ourselves, or for someone in our immediate family?

Jason Daye
In this episode, I’m joined by Percy McCray. Percy has an incredibly unique pastoral calling. As an ordained minister, he has served for nearly 30 years in the cancer care space. He provides leadership to the entire pastoral care team that serves at all five of the hospitals for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. In this episode, Percy and I explore some of the unique challenges that we might experience as ministry leaders when we receive a tough health diagnosis. We also look at how God can redeem some of these health issues and open doors to new ministry opportunities. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Jason Daye
Hello, friends, and welcome to another exciting episode of FrontStage BackStage. I’m your host Jason Daye. And every single week I have the distinct privilege to sit down with a trusted ministry leader and dive into a conversation to help pastors and ministry leaders, just like you, embrace a healthy, sustainable rhythm in both life and ministry, both on the front stage and on the backstage of our lives. And I’m super excited because not only do we get to have these conversations, but our team also goes the extra step. We create an entire toolkit for you and for the ministry team at your local church, to really go more deeply into the topic that we discuss with every single episode. And you can find that at You can find the toolkit that complements this week’s episode there, as well as those for all of our past episodes. So be sure to check that out. And then also, we love to have the opportunity to serve pastors and ministry leaders. Our team at PastorServe is offering a complimentary coaching session to pastors and ministry leaders, so you have the opportunity to sit down, have a conversation with one of our seasoned coaches. And you can find out more about that and register at Now, as I said, very excited about today’s episode, excited to have you with us here. And if you’re joining us on YouTube, please give us a thumbs up and take a moment to in the comments below, just drop your name and the name of your church. Our team loves to get to know our audience better, and we will be praying for you and for your ministry. And whether you’re joining us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to subscribe, follow along so you do not miss out on any of these great conversations. And today is a very important conversation. I believe one that’s not really discussed a whole lot. And so I’m excited to dive into this conversation. Very excited to welcome Reverend Percy McCray to the show. So Percy Welcome, brother,

Percy McCray
How you doing, Jason? It’s good to be with you my friend.

Jason Daye
Yeah, it’s good to have you with us. And as I said, I’m really looking forward to our conversation. Now, Percy, you’re an ordained minister, and you have embraced I’ve got to say a very unique pastoral calling. You’ve spent over 20 years in cancer care ministry, you’ve had the opportunity to work with 1000s of patients, with their families, with many, many pastors and ministry leaders, and you currently provide leadership to all five hospitals for Cancer Treatment Centers of America, all across the country. And so you’ve been blessed with this very, very unique and very important ministry. I’m so grateful to have you on the show, because we’re going to address a challenging, but very important topic, Percy. We’re going to look at how we, you know, as pastors and ministry leaders, how we address and how we process through critical health issues in our own lives or in the lives of our families, as we lead in ministry. And as I was preparing for this conversation, Percy, I’ve got to tell you, I realized that this is a topic which is not often discussed really. Yet, with all the pastors ,with all the ministry leaders out there, statistically, right, this is going to either currently be impacting or will impact so many leaders. So personally, I guess my first question is, why do you think that this is a topic that is rarely, if ever, really discussed?

Percy McCray
Well. first of all, thank you for having me on your platform. I look forward to this discussion. And you’re right, it is a unique ministry, I have had to address that for many years, I started out very much on the same path as many pastors wanting to pastor a local church congregation, went to Bible college, graduated, and my sights were set in that direction. And God threw me a curveball, he kind of caught my attention and said, I’m gonna kind of point you in a different direction, and show you some other things. And so started out almost 28 years ago, ministering to cancer patients inside of a healthcare environment. I eventually did pastor my own church for a little while, but then the demands of both ministries did not allow me to do both at the same time. And I felt very much directed by the Lord to concentrate on this ministry. And so having said that, I was not really aware, when I first entered into this space, as you stated, of the complexity, or the lack of communication around significant or serious healthcare challenges, from a faith-based perspective, outside of the school of thought, that that suggests that, you know, we walk by faith, and that we trust God for our healing, we pray for healing and divine healing and such. And that was kind of the extent of it, there was there was really not much more discussion beyond that. And I and what I found out, as I began to address the local faith community more directly across the country, that, in my humble opinion, I think that there was just a fear factor, particularly when we talk about cancer, which is the space that I’ve been, you know, operating in for such a long time. But But around the dichotomy, and the paradoxical discussion of, of how does divine healing work? When does it work? How do we manufacture that? When did when does it get manifested? There still is a lot of discussion around the dynamics of that, and for me, I came to understand that at the end of the day, we, as a local body of believers, outside of the context of divine healing, we simply were not mentally, emotionally prepared for the rigors and for the dynamics of significant or serious health challenges within our faith construct and our theological orientation.

Jason Daye
Yeah, you know, that’s interesting, because as pastors and ministry leaders, we live on the other side of this a lot. You know, this is a big part of of pastoral ministry, right, we’re often pointing others beyond brokenness. You know,they get a difficult diagnosis and we’re there alongside of them. We’re pointing them beyond that brokenness to hope. But when a tough medical diagnosis hits us, personally, or hits our immediate family, Percy, how can we best process the heartbreak, first as humans without feeling like we need to put on our pastor hat and kind of gloss over the pain and heartbreak that we’re experiencing?

Percy McCray
Yeah, that’s a great question. And that’s exactly the challenge. As faith leaders we have been instructed, encouraged, and on some level have embraced this dynamic of we’re standing on top of our of our of the Mountain of Faith, we have our faith cape flowing in the wind, we have our theme music in the background, because we’re faith man, or we’re faith woman, you know, we are the spiritual leaders, and therefore, you know, we’re going to rise above this, and that’s not really going to hit us. And when it does, it really does become somewhat of a shock to our theological system, we’re not really sure what we should say, we’re not really sure if we should communicate that to our local congregations. And most importantly, to your other point, you know, we dare not delve into the humanity of who we are when we deal with this. I was just listening to, and I forget the pastor’s name on a YouTube clip that I came across. And he was talking about the dynamic of this in ways that I had not heard many publicly discuss the fact that, you know, in some areas in cases, we may have very well been called and assigned to be part of a process to show people what it looks like to be under duress, under challenge, under stress. From a healthcare perspective. I was diagnosed three years ago with early stage one colon cancer. And when I began to disperse that information to family and friends, they all kind of went into a different state of mind and was like, Well, how do you feel about that? Being that you number one, are a spiritual leader and number two, you are supporting people with cancer for 20 plus years? What’s going on in your mind that now you’re in that position. And for me it was I have had a dress rehearsal for many, many years having this discussion. So I was completely mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepared for that. But But the bottom line is, is that it forces us to reevaluate our theological construct. Where is God in the midst of this? Why me? Why my wife? You know, we’ve had two significant evangelical Christian faith leaders over the last three years, who have had to deal with this directly, Dr. Tony Evans, who was beloved and respected, his his precious wife passed away. And then Luis Palau, who also passed away from a cancer diagnosis. And it was it was pretty public, and we had access to kind of see and hear some things. And what I appreciated about both of those gentlemen is that they didn’t try to keep that quiet, they didn’t try to hide that, they allowed us to kind of see elements and aspects of them walking through this process. Because at the end of the day, we don’t just get to stand on the podium, in front of everyone, when everything is going great. There are times that we are challenged as spiritual leaders, and to a certain extent, we are to be examples to those that are watching us on how to walk and fight the good fight of faith, good, bad or indifferent. So the challenge at the end of the day is working through our humanity, that that somehow we have to come to terms with, though we have Reverend, or Dr. Reverend or evangelist, or apostle or prophet in front of our name, does not cause us not to have to deal with the same dynamics that every one that’s sitting in the out in the pews deal with, and that we have to be somewhat transparent and honest about that.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s good. That’s helpful. So personally, what advice would you give the pastor who receives that diagnosis? Because there are lots of things and if you’ve worked with people through this, from a pastoral perspective, and help people navigate this for, you know, like you said, 28, nearly 30 years now. So what advice would you have, as a pastor receives this kind of diagnosis, this kind of news? What would you tell him to, to begin to kind of think through and process through in a healthy way?

Percy McCray
Yeah, I’ve supported a lot of pastors and a lot of members of the ministry with a cancer diagnosis and their family members, so, I know a little bit about this. The first thing that I encourage any ministry leader to do is first and foremost, I use this principle, throughout my conversations with all cancer patients is stop, drop, and roll. It’s an expression that we use and the fire fighters use. If you ever find yourself on fire, that you know, there’s, there’s a shock to your system, and you just start running and you don’t know what to do, they tell you to stop, to drop, and then to roll numbers to put yourself out of fight, take put the fire out so that you can kind of gather yourself, anyone who has been told that they have cancer or any significant health care challenge, first and foremost is going to have to gather themselves, they’re going to have to kind of sit down, get still and quiet a little bit and let that wash over them. I know this feeling very well. I remember the day when I got that phone call. And I was entertaining family from out of town and they were swimming in the pool and my wife was having a great time. And the doc rings me and tells me you have cancer, you need to go see it oncologist right away. Well, I had to kind of just kind of gather myself like I didn’t want to react, I didn’t want to say or do anything initially, I wanted to let that wash over me. And this is where theologically we need to get into the presence of God. One woman told me, a minister, told it to me this way, she said, before I ran to the phone, I first ran to the throne and got into the throne room of God and got in God’s face. So that we could kind of talk about this and kind of unpack this a little bit from an initial reaction perspective. And so with that, I would encourage any minister leader to first get quiet, get still and let that wash over you. Number two important is to identify your inner circle your your your immediate community of individuals that you trust, who you know, that will be trustworthy with information that you provide them, and then begin to seek out sharing that information with individuals for obvious reasons for prayer support, etc, etc. But identify… so my second principle is called identify who’s who in the zoo. Who’s who, in the zoo. When you go to the zoo. They give you a name tag for all of the different animals were part of the region of the country. They’re from what they eat, you’re gonna have to identify who’s who in your zoo, who are the surrounding individuals that you know that you Love, and that can help you and support you work through a process before you go mainstream public, because that’s going to be the key dynamic for any ministry leader. And many ministry leaders, in my opinion, have made the mistake of trying to keep their cancer diagnosis a secret, and keep that quiet. And then as things progressed, particularly if things get a little bit shaky, where there’s an obvious dynamic of something going on, now, you’ve got to figure out a way to unpack that to your congregation, or to individuals who love you, and who are going to be caught off guard, and they’re going to be stunned. And so you need to kind of come up with a mechanism by which you begin to unwrap unpack that to those that sit before you as your your congregation and your supporters, so that you can kind of allow them to spiritually support you, oh, what a concept as spiritual leaders, we need to be spiritually supported. And so those are the top three things that I will outline, first and foremost, when people in ministry or leadership are told that they have a significant serious health crisis or a cancer diagnosis.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s, that’s good, Percy. And on that last point, I would love to dig in a little more deeply, lean into that. Because, you know, that’s one of the things that’s unique in so many ways, in our role as pastors as ministry leaders, right, is that we’re accustomed to serving our faith community, you know, we’re a pastor, right. And so we get a diagnosis like cancer, you know, difficult medical diagnosis. But we know that the ministry carries on, and many pastors in the US specifically and probably around the world, we know that the typical church is not a huge megachurch, the typical church is a church of 150 or less. So lots of pastors are solo pastors,. The vast majority of pastors, you know, they’re the ones who are carrying, you know, so to speak, most of the ministry burden for that local community. And so we’re accustomed to serving others. We know that ministry continues on and so there’s got to be this tension in the midst of that, like, how do we navigate that tension, Percy?

Percy McCray
Yeah, it’s a push and pull, there’s no question about it. And with that, first of all, I would, I would say, let me back up a little bit, even back to the functionality of management of the local church, if I can use that term, please forgive me for using that language. But at the end of the day, pastor is a is a senior manager, he is managing the day to day affairs activities and all that goes on with the local church. And you’re right, the average congregation 200 150 people, in general, is where we are. The first and foremost, the pastor or the spiritual leader is going to have to work through possibly a sense of as asking… at answering a couple of questions. Being embarrassed about having cancer, cancer has a way of making people feel embarrassed. I, I have a segment on my podcast, entitled that I will not allow cancer to embarrass me. Because there is there is some cases there is shame. There is a sense of okay, what did I do wrong? What kind of lifestyle change? Did I not adjust to or what have you. And then the second component to that, and this is spiritually related. If we all remember Job’s friends, in the midst of the height of his calamity, they came by to encourage him, but their encouragement was, what did you do man? Well, you must have sinned. How did you get out of the will of God because there is no way you being a man of being upright, the Bible says, that this could happen to you. And so there is a theological dynamic, a hoop that we have to jump through, because we associate bad and negative things to sin, disobedience, or being out of the will of God. And I would suggest to you that we need to be very careful and not taking that assumption. And pastors are trying to work through that. Well, what did I do? How did I miss it? Did I not pray enough? Was I not you know, whatever. So they’re working through a whole series of things within their own thought process. And so how do they manage that? Well, obviously, for the average pastor that has a spouse, in a situation, the spouse thing kicks in and becomes a heavy supporter of lifting, what is going on day to day inside of the local church. If the pastor is fortunate enough to have some sort of leadership under structure underneath him that then they can help kind of pull some of the weight but he’s trying he or she is trying to figure out at the end of the day, what did I do? How did I open this door? Am I out of the will of God? So they’ve got to get back into the driver’s seat of understanding. Like the question that was asked asked of Jesus of the young man that was born blind from birth. Who sent here? Was it his mother or his father? Or was it he himself? And Jesus said, No one said here? See, we’ve got to answer that question, we’ve got to come to some determination, that, hey, I did everything that I know to do, as the case was, for me, you know, it came out the sky blue, and I was like, I’m fine. Me and my relationship with God is okay, I now can set that aside. So I can now muster up the wherewithal, the grace, in order to now do whatever needs to be done from a treatment perspective and also from an organizational perspective. And you can’t do that with a mental division in your head that maybe I’ve sinned, maybe I’m out the will of God, somehow I haven’t been faithful enough, etc. So you’ve got to address all of that and put that to rest, because that will start to wear on you. And it’s going to be extremely difficult to believe at the end of the day, that the God that you serve is here to help empower you, but also at the same time, is punishing you. You’re a divided house at that point. And it’s going to be very difficult to manage through that dynamic. So there are some things that’s got to get worked on internally, inside of our thinking, and then we can look outwardly with regard to, you know, how do I delegate some things, and maybe this is where I had a pastor who told me that he found very faithful people in the congregation, who had been with him from the beginning that he began to delegate some authority to, underneath the circumstances of I’m gonna need some help and support. And I’m willing to receive that, with my guidance. And with my leadership, there becomes an opportunity to have people step up and provide them with some things that they can do that can help shoulder the lift of the local church.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s good. You know, it’s interesting, as you’re talking there. Percy, I was thinking through that a lot of pastors and ministry leaders, and again, we’re good at this, we’re good at, we’re really good at ministering to other people. But then when it hits our own life, you know, we’re not as prepared, right, which is so fascinating to think about. But, you know, I would think that a lot of just as you’re talking, I was thinking, Well, I don’t think I would ever wrestle with the theological, you know, or shame issue or embarrassment issue, you know, because I don’t tell other people, you know, when they’re going through something, hey, there must be something wrong in your life. But as I was kind of as you were talking, I was kind of thinking. It’s interesting, because once it hits us, regardless of how we’ve counseled others, right, once it becomes personal, there’s that whole emotional aspect, that kicks it’s not just a physical thing. It’s a whole emotional aspect that kicks in. And so our minds can go a lot of different directions, and take us places that that we would never really think, you know, I mean, like, oh, no, we got this. But then when it happens to us, there’s that potential there. So I think that’s incredibly helpful. So talk to us a bit about this, the emotional changes that take place, the emotional dynamic, when it comes to something like this, how do we navigate a lot of those emotions?

Percy McCray
Yeah, and again, we’re human right. So again, we need to continue to remind ourselves that though we may have been trained, called we’re anointed to preach and teach and etc, etc. underneath that there is a humanity to us. I’ve just finished recording a segment dealing with this very dynamic of toxic positivity, toxic positivity, I want to throw that out there and I want to get that into people’s consciousness. Because there can be and I think that people have faith, the faith community unconsciously can cross over into a space of toxic positivity. Toxic positivity is when you you try to become positive to such a degree, that you do not and you used the operative word, process, what you are feeling, process what you are seeing, process some of that emotional dynamic that comes upon you. I remember when I had my surgery, I had a third of my colon removed. And I had a great surgeon and a great gi who I love both to this day, they both supported me spiritually as well. They understood I was a man of faith, etc, etc. And I remember when I came out of surgery, you know, you’re still a little woozy. And I remember I broke down and just started crying. And I don’t know why I really don’t. And I think that it was a combination of things. I think I was so elated that I woke up that you know, I got a great prognosis. My doc came by and he said, you know, had you waited another six months, we may have had a very different conversation, whatever it was, there was an element of emotion that hit me that I didn’t try to restrain or compress or push away. I process did I allow myself to work through that, as the book of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time and a season, for every purpose under heaven, there is a time to mourn, there is a time to cry. And sometimes when we try to create this dynamic that I am going to reject, or I’m going to suppress whatever emotion that I’m feeling at the moment, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. And we do that if we’re trying to support other people, because they’re trying to process through they need to say some things, they may need to confess some things, they may need to just emote. And we can’t leave that bottled in because somewhere else down the line, we’re going to see that emotion or we’re going to have to deal with that emotion in other ways that may be very unproductive. And so with that, the key to this is as a spiritual leader, let’s go back to our zoo, who’s who in our zoo. Who can you pick up the phone with and have a good cry with? Who can you pick up a phone with as a brother or sister and say, Listen, right now, I don’t understand why I’m dealing with this. I’m like, I’m angry at God, I still love him, but I’m angry right now. You know, as husbands and wives, we get angry with each other, right? We still love them, we get angry with our children, but we still win. I think we believe that if we say that we’re angry with God, somehow, God’s gonna cut us off, and we’re not going to get the next dose of grace. And it couldn’t be anything further from the truth. As a matter of fact, Christ Himself had moments of humanity when his friend Lazarus that the Bible says that He wept. When he was in the Garden of Gethsemane enemy, he was under tremendous negative emotional anxiety that he expressed on some level. So when we understand this, then we become we are allowed to have some license to emote and express or process through our emotions, I think trying to bury and compress our emotions borders on negative positivity. And we need to be very careful to understand the distinction between negating versus processing. We can process, we can talk about it, we can talk through it, that doesn’t mean that we are living in that place, or that we’re staying in that place. Find someone that you can trust that number one will not go out and repeat what they’ve heard. Because I think that this is the biggest thing that spiritual leaders struggle with, is that they don’t want to be exposed as being something less than the man or woman of God. And at the end of the day, you’re still very much the man or woman of God. But you do need to have moments of humanity where you can express what’s going on inside.

Jason Daye
Yeah, I love that, Percy. I think that’s such a helpful distinction. Thinking of that positivity and how it can become toxic. And, you know, going back to that image you gave us of, you know, standing on the mountaintop with your cape blowing in the wind, you know, you’re super pastor, right?

Percy McCray
I’m Faith Man.

Jason Daye
Exactly, exactly. But like you said, we’re human. And we and God knows we’re human. That’s the reality, right? I mean, God, God loves us for who we are, as a minister more than he loves us for what we do in ministry. I mean, Jesus died for us as people, He didn’t die for what we do with our lives, you know, he died for us as individual people. So just being reminded of that thinks incredibly helpful. Yes, one of the things, Percy, that that I’ve found, that was pretty interesting, as I was, you know, preparing for our conversation and, and looking at your podcast and some of the different guests you’ve had on and some of the different topics that you tackles, it’s interesting to see that a lot of pastors and ministry leaders who have either themselves or maybe a spouse has gone through a cancer diagnosis. And you know, they’ve come through that they they’re often kind of awaken to this need for ministering to people who are experiencing it. Like it’s something they probably didn’t think of before, but then once it hits home, then they’re like, oh, wait, you know, I lived this. And so a lot of them in a cool way. I saw different different pastors and ministry leaders who kind of allowed God to redeem their cancer experience for the kingdom, and birthed a, you know, kind of a ministry out of it. So talk to us a little bit, because I think it’s a really cool, dynamic, and just a beautiful picture of how God uses those things which are meant for ill, God uses for His glory. Right. So talk to us a bit about that, how the local church, you know how the local church is ministering to people who are cancer patients or caregivers or cancer survivors.

Percy McCray
The greatest thing that I’ve learned and I’ve learned a lot of things, I’m a different man, human being minister as a result of being in this community and with this milieu for as long as I have, one of the greatest gifts, and I want everyone to hear me well, and initially your brain is not going to process this the way that I’m going to say it, but I want you to trust me based upon 27 years of experience of ministering to people with cancer. Cancer has a way of reprioritizing your life, it becomes a gift. If and when you survive and get to the other side, as you’ve already mentioned, with cancer, because first of all, let’s be clear, everyone is not dying from cancer. As a matter of fact, the death rate of cancer has precipitously dropped over the last 10, 15 years in such a drastic way that many cancers now are considered a chronic disease to be managed, versus a disease that people are going to die from. And that’s very good news. So we have more cancer survivors in any time ever before in the history of planet Earth. So with that being said, so what happens to mentally and emotionally to someone who has cancer and survived cancer, there’s a lot of them out there. Well, this is typically what takes place, it causes them to re evaluate what’s important. Prior to a cancer diagnosis, or any healthcare scare, we tend to just kind of we’re just going along doing our thing, you know, and we and in many cases, we’re taking a lot of things for granted. Cancer forces you to stop to reevaluate, who am I? What am I doing? What am I doing it with? Why do I do this? Should I continue to do this? Should I do something else. And so to your point, probably a third or fourth of the people that I interview on health hope and inspiration, my podcast, if people who found renewed purpose, that after their cancer diagnosis, they had an epiphany, they had a moment of truth, they had an aha scenario that said, I’m gonna go start a foundation, I’m going to do X, Y, and Z on behalf of others. That because to your point, and I love the language, redeeming the experience of being a cancer patient, I’ve preached this message a million times, don’t waste God’s healing on just being well, from cancer. There’s something else that God wants to be birthed out of that experience, that you now have a vantage point, and a perspective that a lot of people do not have, because they haven’t walked that road, they haven’t been forced to deal with their mortality. Oh, here’s a big one that we struggle with in the faith community. The Bible says that it’s appointed wants to every man to die, and then the judgment. So when we are forced to think about our mortality, and the possibility of dying, it really reconstructs our emphasis on what’s important to us, and what we should or should not be doing. And then God can bubble things up out of our hearts, that say, we’re going to, I want you to focus on this, while I would like for you to do that, it changes the trajectory of thought, that doesn’t just go along with Well, everything is just gonna be fine. And I’m just gonna stay on this pace. No, there becomes an urgency in many cases, there becomes an agency of, hey, I need to take ownership of this and do this, that and the other. And this is where ministry in the in the local church to cancer patients becomes crucial. This is how I started this training. It was as a result of a patient that I was ministering to who asked me to have a conversation with her pastor. And then he had me speak to the consortium of ministers that he was associated with around ministry to cancer patients. And it was just an AHA eye opening moment for many of them, who said I had no idea I did not know what to say or do. I’ve had this situation happen to me. I’m grateful now for an opportunity to be able to do something and speak to this in a way that’s very tangible, very practical, and very needful.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s awesome. It’s such a cool way to see God at work and how God can use, again, these things for huge Kingdom impact and, so are there resources, Percy? I mean, just on this note, the resources that you have, or you can point pastors to, to help them as they’re trying to, you know, if they if they’re looking to develop a ministry like that in their local church.

Percy McCray
Yeah, so we have a website called And it’s all one word, all lowercase. I’ll say it again very slowly. Our, not we, not they, not them, And that website, will first and foremost give people an overview and an introduction to the idea and the concept of a cancer care ministry inside of a local church. Prior to me starting this program, wow. 18, 19 years ago it was, there was just no conversation, no thought of a focus or committed ministry, to people sitting inside of the local church who had cancer. And yet, probably on any church prayer list across any church in America is two or three people that are on that list who are dealing with cancer, right? So we so with that being said, The Lord spoke to me and he said, this is an area that that I want you to take ownership of and agencies of. And so we’ve created a curriculum all free of charge, materials that people can access on We have two free days of virtual training that will introduce you to the idea, the construct, and the implementation of a cancer care ministry inside of your local church, we now have probably over 3000 churches internationally, within and out the United States of America, who have been trained by this program, who are now ministering to individuals inside of their local church, everything that you need everything that you can think of

Jason Daye
Wow, that’s awesome. And for those watching, listening along, I will have links to that, in our toolkit for this episode, you can find that at, I’ll have links to those resources. Also, I’ll have links to, Percy mentioned his podcast, and I’ll provide links to that too. Because if you’re listening, and you have someone in your life or you yourself, you know, that has a cancer diagnosis, Percy, his podcast is fascinating and filled with hope. And on that note, personally, you are a man of great hope, who has been ministering in this space where there’s a lot of heartbreak, right? And so I can only imagine, you know, the stories, the experiences that you’ve had, over the years ministering in this space. When someone receives a tough medical diagnosis like cancer, it can be difficult to find hope in that. And so personally, I wanted to give you an opportunity as we’re closing down this very important conversation together. For you to really just share with your brothers and sisters who are serving in the kingdom, who might be wrestling with a difficult health diagnosis right now, what words of hope do you have for them?

Percy McCray
Thank you, Jason. On that note, here’s what I would say to anyone that’s listening under the sound of my voice. First and foremost, cancer is not necessarily a death sentence. So let’s start with some old reference points. As a matter of fact, today, there are more people surviving and thriving diagnosis of cancer than anytime before ministering have started ministries because of being a cancer patient, and so with that today, I want you to know that if you are sitting today, whatever challenge that you may be faced with, particularly if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, to know that cancer, by and large, in many cases is beatable. It is treatable, and it is survivable. That you are not a throw away, do not allow cancer to define you. I tell people all the time, I am not my cancer. As a matter of fact, I tell people that at the end of the day, because of having cancer, I became a bigger, bolder, more courageous individual, because it backed me up against the wall. And it forced me to dig deep into who I am and who God is to me. And as a matter of fact, it has helped to reinvent me on many levels. Because at the end of the day, God is not done with you. And he can use anything, including a sickness and diagnosis that will allow you to move forward. And so I want you to be encouraged to know that God is not done with you. As a matter of fact, this could be the beginning of the rest of your life, the best is still yet to come. I have seen this over and over again. And I want you to know today that you are not out the will of God, you have not sinned, God has not forsaken you. And yet, this for such a time as this may be the next chapter that will unlock what else is still in you to do and to be and to know that God is on your side, He’ll never leave you will never forsake you. And he’ll stick even closer than a brother. So on my behalf as being a cancer patient, and talking to so many cancer patients, just know that there are so many wonderful and beautiful things yet still that can happen in your life. So be hopeful and understand today that God is not finished with you. Take care. Remember, we’ve got work to do. So keep chopping wood.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s a good word., brother. Thank you so much for sharing that, man. It’s been a great conversation. Very important topic. I’m glad that we’re able to have this conversation. We’re able to get it out there and share it with with pastors and ministry leaders. So Percy, God bless you, brother, thank you for making the time to be with us today.

Percy McCray
Thank you, my friend, and I’ll come back anytime you want me to talk about this conversation, this is what I do. And I believe that God is doing amazing things in this space. And so be well and continue to have a great day, sir.

Jason Daye
Awesome. God bless you, brother. Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at That’s And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.

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