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Cancer-Stricken Bible Teacher Has 'New Ministry'

By Eric Tiansay
Charisma News Service -- A renowned Pentecostal Bible teacher whose itinerant ministry ended nearly two years ago because of cancer has found a new audience with the blind. Judson Cornwall's friends, family and the head of a blind ministry say the blind are being blessed since he started recording his books on tape.

"In my opinion he has a new ministry," said Ruth Berry Versaw, who has operated the Oklahoma City, Okla.-based Library for the Blind for 16 years. "I told him recently via e-mail, 'You are traveling and giving the Word of God all over the country via tape.' He's touching lives and bringing the blind to a closer walk with the Lord."

A former Assemblies of God preacher, Cornwall told Charisma News Service: "I am very limited in strength and am doing my best to use that strength to bless the body of Christ. ... I am pleasantly surprised that the blind are enjoying my books on tape."

Cornwall, 78, was preaching in Texas in July 2001, when he suffered excruciating pain in his back. After returning to Phoenix, where he lives, Cornwall was diagnosed with inoperable, malignant cancer on his spine.

"A doctor told him to go home and die," Terri Gargis, Cornwall's secretary for 16 years, told Charisma News. "He's been under hospice care ever since." Taking morphine for pain, Cornwall has not received chemotherapy or radiation treatment, Gargis added.

The disease curtailed Cornwall's ministry, which featured speaking engagements at four churches monthly before he got sick. In ministering worldwide for more than 20 years, Cornwall would sometimes be away from home for a month.

"He was traveling all the time and was a workaholic, and all of that stopped," Gargis, 58, explained. Noting that Cornwall "needed something to do," she said the idea for him to read his books on tape came about last year, partly "out of boredom."

"Ruth Versaw had mentioned in an e-mail about other authors reading their books to tape," said Cornwall, who has written nearly 60 books, several of which have been translated in other languages. "I prayed about it and felt the Lord spoke to me to read my works on tape for her library."

Since he recorded his first book eight months ago, Cornwall has done 31 books, including his most recent, "Forbidden Glory." Other books he has read on tape include "Let Us Worship," "Elements of Worship" and "Praying the Scriptures."

Gargis said each book took Cornwall about four hours to record. "Having already set up his own recording equipment and sectioned off part of his office for previous tape recordings, he was quite prepared to make professional-sounding tapes," said Gargis, noting that Cornwall has stopped recording because of the cancer pain.

"This gave him purpose and an opportunity to reach a whole different group," she added. "His heart still wants him to do something, but his body won't let him." Gargis said Cornwall paid for the blank tapes, and he does not receive a fee for the recordings.

Versaw, 73, who is legally blind, added: "When he [Cornwall] reads his books, he reads it like it was meant to be read. One lady who wrote me said, 'The minute I hear him reading, I feel the Holy Spirit coming into the room.' He sure has touched the lives of the blind."

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Copyright (c) 2003 Charisma News Service. Used by permission. For news, features, and inspirational stories from a Christian perspecitve, log on to Charisma & Christian Life.

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