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The wonder drug of generosity

Ruth Leigh Ruth Leigh
3 min

Since his cancer diagnosis seven years ago, Jeremy Marshall has discovered his own wonder drug. It’s not a treatment plan, nor a mental attitude. It is simply and wholly this: generosity.

In 2013, Jeremy was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer but following treatment, went into remission. In 2015 though, it was back and this time it was inoperable. Jeremy was given 18 months to live.

With such a poor prognosis, it would be entirely understandable for Jeremy to want to spend most of his time at home. In fact, with God’s help, he’s done exactly the opposite, and this is why: “Because I love people. If I only had two weeks left, there’s nothing I’d like more than to go around telling people about Christ. The more I tell people about Him, the more my faith grows.”

Jeremy is spending as much of his time as he can travelling around the country, telling people he meets about Jesus. “My time is limited and I feel an urgency to talk about Christ to anyone who’ll listen. I’ve lost all my inhibitions! I won’t be able to give non-believers the good news when I’m in heaven. Jesus said ‘I am the resurrection and the life. ‘Isn’t that fantastic? If I can’t get excited about that, I might as well give up now.”

“In rural Wales, I spent a lot of time with Simon Bowkett, a travelling rural chaplain who’s incredibly generous with his talents and time. He rents a coffee shop in the middle of Llandovery where everyone goes with their issues and problems. It’s like a surgery for souls.”

At the heart of his faith, Jeremy believes “Generosity is about much more than money. It’s about what the Bible calls our heart; our attitudes, desires, and behaviours.”

Conversational doors open when you’ve got a poor prognosis. “Non-Christians are very compassionate and kind. A chap I know who’s a confirmed atheist recently texted me, saying, ‘I gave God a surprise. I popped into church and said a prayer for you.’” While he’s having treatment, at local schools, at the shops or in the street, Jeremy tries to chat to everyone he meets. His illness has taken away the fear of being laughed at, or ignored.

Jeremy’s generosity with his time, his experiences and his story are balanced with a very natural fear of the future. “I’m not some kind of super-Christian. I am afraid of dying - I would much rather not have cancer. I feel such longing to share hope with others, but I fear what’s going to happen to me.”

The main lessons Jeremy has learned about generosity during his illness are these:

  1. Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.
  2. Don’t be embarrassed to evangelise. We have something amazing which is powerful.
  3. If we’re not generous, we haven’t got enough Christ-given love. It’s like having a flat car battery. You need to charge it up.
  4. The Bible is full of spiritual medicine but you have to take it. Go back to Christ and you’ll be generous.

Jeremy has a new take on the well-known Bible quote from Acts 20:35: ‘It is more blessed to give than receive.’ “Blessed sounds a bit pious and saintly. I prefer to change the words to: ‘It is more fun to give than receive.’ I truly believe that it is. The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, so we need to tread in his footsteps. For radical generosity, we should give everything, not just our money.”

As well as sharing Jesus face-to-face in his daily life, Jeremy has written a book which he hopes will reach many thousands of people. “Beyond the Big C: Hope in the Face of Death” is out now, (designed to be given away to friends). You can read more about the wonder drug of generosity, the joy of sharing Jesus and Jeremy’s hope for the future here.