Prominent US church leader Tim Keller has announced that he is to undergo treatment for pancreatic cancer. The New York City-based preacher revealed the diagnosis in an Instagram post on Sunday.
He wrote: "Less than 3 weeks ago I didn't know I had cancer. Today I'm headed to the National Cancer Institute at the NIH for additional testing before beginning chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer next week back in New York City."
Keller explained how he saw the hand of God in his diagnosis, not least because he was exhibiting no outward signs of the disease.
"I feel great and have no symptoms. It was what doctors call an 'incidental pickup,' otherwise known as providential intervention," he explained. "I have terrific human doctors, but most importantly I have the Great Physician himself caring for me. Though we have had times of shock and fear, God has been remarkably present with me through all the many tests, biopsies, and surgery of the past few weeks."
Keller, a New York Times best-selling author whose book titles include Counterfeit Gods, The Meaning of Marriage and The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness, requested prayer "for God to use medical means or his direct intervention to make the cancer regress to the point of vanishing."
Additionally, he asked that supporters pray for him and his wife, Kathy - that they would "use this opportunity to be weaned from the joys of this world and to desire God's presence over all."
Finally, Keller solicited prayers for minimal side effects so that he can "continue writing and speaking" while he undergoes treatment.
Keller, who led New York's Redeemer Presbyterian Church for 28 years before stepping down in 2017, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer back in 2002, writing about the experience in his 2013 book Walking with God through Pain and Suffering.
Owing to Redeemer's tremendous growth over the years, many have heralded Keller the most successful Christian evangelist in New York City. Keller was also a close friend of Ravi Zacharias, the prominent apologist who passed away last month following a short battle with cancer.
RZIM, the apologetics organisation founder by Zacharias, released a statement on Tim's diagnosis, writing:
"At RZIM we are deeply saddened to hear that Pastor Timothy Keller has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and we join with many others in praying for him and his wife, Kathy, and their family during this time.
"Pastor Tim has been a friend to RZIM for many years, and has shaped our team in profound ways through his preaching, writing, and training. We thank God for Tim’s unique ministry and faithful example, and for the times we have been able to partner together in sharing the hope of the gospel in the U.S. and around the world.
"Even as we mourn the recent loss of our founder, Ravi Zacharias, we continue to see expressions of God’s goodness and are reminded in new ways of our eternal hope. May God bring healing to our friend Tim, may He strengthen the Keller family, and may we all fix our eyes on Jesus during this difficult time in our nation and our world."