Once again in need of a miracle
After years of supernatural victory over cancer and the powers of darkness, Eddie and Jackie Santoro, longtime pastors and senior leaders at Jerusalem’s Kehilat Ahavat Yeshua, find themselves in need of yet another miracle. The Santoros now faithfully proclaim the advent of not a second, or third, demonstration of God’s power and healing grace in sustaining their lives, but a fourth.
Just days before the publication of this testimonial to their examples, endurance and strength in seeking healing from the Lord, the Santoros learned from their doctors that after overcoming the onset of two virulent brain tumors and another, unrelated attack, in earthly terms, of an equally menacing throat cancer, “The tumor has reappeared in my brain, third time,” Eddie told Kehila News Israel (KNI), “and so we need a miracle.
“The doctors told me that they had given me all they had to give. That they would go a few more weeks on the drug I’m now taking and, if the tumor is still there, if it’s still growing, they don’t have anything else to give me.”
“But we have God, amen?” Eddie added. “And meanwhile, I feel great. I really do. I feel wonderful. And by His stripes we are healed.”
“One of the things I’ve begun to appreciate as we have gone through this is the magnitude of the spiritual battle we find ourselves in, an ongoing battle we normally don’t recognize,” Jackie told KNI. “We make judgments and suppositions, we draw conclusions from things we see in the natural, but we often see them imperfectly. We see just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much we still don’t understand especially in the area of sickness and disease and healing.
“I believe God is doing something on the earth today to train our hands for battle, but it’s like any other war. Soldiers go into battle and some die, but the Body of Messiah will win in the end. Through these difficult tests and increasingly more severe challenges, God is pushing us to levels of greater faith to prepare for the end times and the intense spiritual warfare we will be confronting.
“And though people will sometimes die in these battles, that’s not the end of the story. The end of this story is victory. We want to keep our eyes focused upon the Lord and stand victorious with Him at the end, so we say No to the enemy and Yes to God and continue to press on.”
Demonstrating their credentials
My wife, Marcia, and I met Eddie and Jackie, our first contacts in Israel, via Skype from the U.S. before making aliyah in 2011. After we arrived, they continually reached out to us and made welcome suggestions and introductions to help plant us in the land. Lifting and sustaining others is what the Santoros have done, and still do, whether on behalf of strangers, as we were eight years ago, close friends or members of their congregation.
In his book, Covenant Relationships: A Handbook for Integrity and Loyalty, Jerusalem Pastor Asher Intrater writes, “A good shepherd must also allow his congregants to get to know him… It takes courage to open oneself up to intimacy… A good elder can say that he is known personally by the people he is serving. Our friends, Eddie and Jackie Santoro…were great examples of ‘knowing their flock.’ They would spend hours every day meeting with people personally and being involved in their lives.”
But lives of service are not necessarily bound to worldly bliss. In a recent sermon entitled, How God Uses Suffering, John MacArthur, widely-revered pastor-teacher at Grace Community Church in California and author of the MacArthur Study Bible, cited the suffering of the Apostle Paul, “through which Paul was literally shaped.”
“God uses suffering to reveal our spiritual condition…” MacArthur said. “…if somebody wants to see what you’re really like and the truth must be known, then let them see you in your deepest sorrow, in your greatest pain and suffering. And therein will come out the character that is really there.
“So, it was time for Paul to demonstrate his credentials. The Lord wanted the world to see what this man was made of, every reason then to cause him to suffer because it was in suffering that the truth was made manifest.”
“I’ve been in the Lord for 42 years,” Eddie said. “I’ll turn 70 in three or four weeks. I’m always impressed with how much one gains and matures spending faithful years in Him… I’m not who I was 40 years ago when I came to faith and I’m not who I was 22 years ago when we moved to Israel. We just keep growing. I can’t imagine what will happen when we go to be with the Lord in heaven. I think it will take eternity for us to grow into what he wants us to be.”
A serious headache
The Santoros’ battle against cancer began while they were on a weekend retreat in northern Israel.
“Everyone had risen early that Saturday morning to enjoy a delicious breakfast…” Eddie begins his account of their inspiring journey in the opening chapter of Lifted Up: Overcoming through the Power of Love, the book he wrote about his and Jackie’s battles with cancer. “When we returned to the guest house, much to my surprise, I had developed a serious headache.”
The headaches only became more frequent. During the month that followed, Eddie experienced random and progressively worse memory loss until, in August of 2015, almost three-and-one-half years ago, his “incredible, challenging and miraculous journey began.”
After 12 hours of medical tests, Santoro was admitted to the hospital and told by a neurosurgeon of the presence of a suspected cancerous tumor growing on the left side of his brain, one that needed to be removed surgically, and soon.
Surgery was scheduled for five days afterward. Eddie’s recovery was challenging, but ultimately successful. About a year ago, he wrote, and Jackie edited, Lifted Up, which they published to share their experience. True to His word, God had worked every situation for good and had been their strong tower.
The Santoros’ see the publication of Lifted Up as an extension of their ministry and testimony, their prayer being for those who read it to know the victory that God worked in their lives.
It is Eddie’s personal account of the onset of cancer, “facing the unfathomable” meaning of their burden, their physical and spiritual battles, God’s victory in healing and the call to “live His life.”
Each chapter includes details of their experience, anecdotes of sharing faith with both friends and strangers as well as scripture and personal insights into the purpose and meaning of every challenge the Santoros had been called upon to endure.
Their path to their high calling began in 1977. Eddie was “saved out of a hippie lifestyle” through a personal encounter with God.
“I received the Holy Spirit, met Jackie two years later and we were married in 1979,” Eddie wrote. “We spent the next ten years as leaders in a small Christian fellowship in Woodstock, NY. In 1989 we started a Messianic congregation and made Aliyah to Israel in 1997. Our only son joined us the following year, married several years later and has blessed us with three beautiful grandchildren…
“Our lives are a forty-year-plus testimony of God’s wonder and power. We know there is still much that lies before us.”
‘He walks with us to help us fight’
The dedication of Lifted Up exhorts, “May the glory of God wash hope, joy and power over you as we share the things He ministered to us during our great trial.” Now, one year after publication, the Santoros’ great trial, no less important, precious or true as the result of recent events, has apparently not ended.
“When we got the report, four days ago, that the cancer had returned, we took a hit,” Jackie said. “But we’ve been able to keep our eyes continually on the Lord. I had made a commitment when this first happened; I would not blame God or ask, ‘Why me?’ Eddie and I both had committed to never do that. God is not the author of sickness and disease. He walks with us to help us fight.”
God is not the author of sickness and disease. He walks with us to help us fight.
“And that attitude has provided us with such grace,” Jackie said. “Even upon receiving this latest negative news, it was hard to hear, of course. I ask myself, ‘Is Eddie going to die?’ [As Jackie spoke, Eddie shouted No! in the background.] But God’s word is God’s word.His word says, By His stripes we are healed. So we both feel, No, we’re hanging in there.
“We’re not giving up. We’ll continue to keep our eyes focused on the Lord.”
“It’s a challenge, of course. I won’t say it’s been easy or that Eddie and I walk in perfect faith. We certainly do not, but I can honestly say that we have not been depressed. We’re pressing on, both eager and determined to walk through this latest trial the best way possible.”