PROSSER - Lower Valley Christian Women's Club members were encouraged yesterday to change their heart attitudes as opposed to their circumstances by an unusual guest speaker: Charlie Hughbanks, a man.
Typically, the club features female speakers. Not at Monday's meeting.
Hughbanks explained how he worked through 20 years of marriage with a second wife, who lost a battle to ovarian cancer that began in 1982 and ended in 2005.
Hughbanks' life changed when he heard the story of a man who died at the ascent of Mount Everest three times. Hughbanks said the speaker relayed that three times they called the man's wife to tell her he was dead and three times they had to call her back and tell her he was alive.
Something about the man's story struck a chord in Hughbanks. Maybe it was the end to the man's story, when he finally confessed he'd searched the world for happiness and found it right in his own back yard.
That was Hughbanks' way. Considered successful in the eyes of the world, he was always on an endeavor to change his circumstances.
"I knew I needed to make a change," he said.
When he was asked to deliver a eulogy, he began to find that change. "If you're going to follow Jesus, (your life) is not going to be left to you."
He first got married after college and had five children, then married his childhood sweetheart in 1978. He said he and she dedicated their lives to God. In the middle of the night she woke him to tell him she'd had a vision from the Lord that she was not to take any more cancer treatments. She died two weeks later. "She always used to say the disease is not nearly as bad as the treatment," he said.
Before she died, they moved back to their hometown and Hughbanks began leading a group of seniors in bible study. "They knew me before and what I used to be before I gave my life over to God," he said.
He said somewhere along the way, he found a change in his heart. "The scriptures say it's important because (Jesus) gives us a peace we can't get anywhere else."
At a hospital, he said a nurse tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he was a minister. He said no. She still asked if he'd give a dying man's family spiritual counseling. He offered to pray with them and felt strongly that he was God's representative. A doctor came in, explained the man's condition, and asked Hughbanks to pray again. He obliged. He then felt God's grace affirm, in his words, "Charlie, you're there representing me." The man died 10 minutes later.
What bothered Hughbanks was that the man wasn't a Christian, so he could not guarantee the man's afterlife.
"I couldn't give those people any hope," he said.
He encouraged the Christian women gathered to go forth in hospitals and be Jesus Christ's representative, to spread his word. "Jesus said, 'I came to serve, not to be served'," he told the women, encouraging them to do the same.
"This is not about me. It's not about us," he said. "It's about Jesus. I have to keep working on my heart. It's like open heart surgery...We need to be excised from our life as it exists in our world. We need to change our heart attitude.
"It's Christ who strengthens me," he said. "I don't have much strength myself."