Andrew Huson, lead pastor of RiverCity Church in Elk Grove, California, had faced and overcome many difficult, even fearful, challenges in his life. But now, fear like he had never experienced before gripped his soul — shaking him to his core. It reduced him from a once confident Christian to a tearful, doubting wreck in just a matter of days.
This was not what anyone expected from a fourth-generation Assemblies of God minister, the lead pastor of a vibrant church, a man filled with the Spirit of God, and a witness of God’s miraculous power.
But when Andrew went to the ER coughing up blood in September 2014, a CT scan revealed a large solid mass in his lungs. The doctor spent an extended time explaining to Andrew why this mass had nothing to do with pneumonia, but was linked to cancer.
“I often feel like I should be the strongest and most confident person as a pastor,” Andrew, now 39, says. “I should be a man of great faith and trust God in all circumstances. I should maintain control and be in charge no matter the trial. Over the next 48 hours, this was not the case. Fear, not faith, overwhelmed me like never before.”
For Shawna, Andrew’s wife, the hushed tones of nurses and their compassionate glances toward her, left her feeling that whatever Andrew had going on in his lungs was bigger than she realized.
The Husons have four children. At the time, their children were ages 12, 8, 6, and 1. The couple decided to not to tell their children what the doctors were saying about the cancer to keep them from struggling with fear as well.
But while Andrew’s faith was experiencing what seemed like a losing battle with fear, Shawna received reassurance.
“I felt like God had it in His control and He was going to do what He was going to do,” Shawna says. “Healing was going to come or it wasn’t, but I felt like God was letting me know that we were going to be okay.”
But Andrew’s mind was bombarded with thoughts of not being there for his wife and children — the opportunities he would miss and the struggles they would face. “The devil saw my fears and attacked me like never before,” Huson admits. “Fear then escalated to a spirit of fear.”
Thoughts of death, receiving a terminal diagnosis, and his body rotting away entered his mind.
Knowing what he believed, but stunned by the emotions and thoughts he was experiencing, Andrew called out to God on his second night in the hospital and God responded — bringing powerful Scriptures and hymns to his mind and a victory over fear.
The next day, a new CT scan was done, but this time two new doctors believed the mass was now related to pneumonia. An encouraging sign for the Husons, as now it was a 50-50 split between doctors on the cancer side and doctors on the pneumonia side.
When Andrew was released from the hospital on the fourth day, doctors prescribed medication for pneumonia. With a sense of hope, he phoned his grandfather who had been a missionary to Brazil for 35 years. His words, at the time, seemed like Andrew had “made it through,” but they were actually a foreshadowing of things to come.
“He told me, ‘At times, God allows us to go through things so that our only option is to completely trust Him,’” Andrew recalls.
Having completed his regime of antibiotics for the pneumonia, Andrew had a follow-up appointment with a new pulmonary specialist. Upon reviewing the CT scan, the specialist became concerned — he didn’t believe the mass had anything to do with pneumonia, and wanted a biopsy done on a piece of the mass as soon as possible.
Once again, a spirit of fear — which Andrew now believes was a demonic attack — struck at him. The victory achieved earlier, was lost. He found himself once again sinking into a dark and hopeless hole of fear and loss.
At a breaking point, Andrew did the only thing he knew he could do.
“I got alone with God and begin to pour out my heart,” he says. “God began to speak to me about trust in an incredible way. I felt God assuring me that He would ultimately give me victory. He was not bringing me through this to take me, but to use me.”
A few days before the biopsy, Andrew called the elders of the church together to anoint him with oil and pray in faith for his healing. God was true to His word.
“At that moment, I began to feel a change in my body,” Andrew recalls. “The pressure in my chest was gone and my breathing was eased. I told my wife that night that we were going in for the biopsy to prove a miracle, not a problem. I proclaimed this to my family, friends, and church on Sunday morning.”
On Monday, as the doctors began the sedation process on Andrew for the biopsy, another CT scan was taken. The mass was gone!
A doctor admitted his shock.
“It is actually incredible,” he told Andrew. “All of us had a really bad feeling about this mass. Its location was bad. It was huge, it was wet, and it looked angry. And now it is completely gone. No sign of it. Typically, if it was pneumonia, you would see a remnant or scarring. There is nothing there. It looks like you have new lungs.”
Meanwhile, Shawna was in the waiting room and unaware of the fantastic news. Doctors had told her that if Andrew didn’t have cancer, it would be 5 minutes; if there was cancer, it would be longer. Thirty minutes had gone by — she had already prepared herself for the worst. Instead God had done the miraculous!
“I wanted proof,” Shawna says. “So the doctors showed us the scans side-by-side — [on the new scan] nothing was there!
“This experience has changed our lives,” Shawna says. “We have a deeper, stronger marriage; we’ve learned what it means to continually trust in God; our Faith is so much stronger; and it has changed a lot of ways we do ministry.”
After more than three years and no re-occurrence of the mass in Andrew’s lung, the Husons have found that ministry and life in general has taken on a new and “intentional” meaning, with a two-fold focus: training people and pastors around the world to be effective communicators of the gospel, and intentionally having time for family.
The Husons also have an understanding of and compassion for those individuals and families facing terminal illnesses and what it’s like to battle fear. And Shawna personally knows the isolating weight of being strong for her family while facing her own fears and losses.
However, since his healing, Andrew has committed himself to “brag on God” for what He did for him.
“Since that commitment, I’ve had the opportunity to share the gospel and my testimony around the world — in Calcutta, in Israel, in Cuba, and later this year, in the Ukraine,” Andrew says. “People have been healed through my testimony.”