Even in the midst of illness and uncertainty, God has always been there for Barry Tippett and his family.
For Barry and his wife of 51 years, Barb, their holiday on The Ghan, the famous train that runs from Adelaide to Darwin, had been a source of great anticipation. But, things took an unexpected turn while they were spending time in Darwin. Barry started to feel quite unwell, to the point where he was unable to tour around as much as he would have liked.
On returning home, he visited his GP, only to collapse while sitting in the waiting room. Rushed to hospital in an ambulance, he went through a variety of tests. Four hours later, he was diagnosed with incurable multiple myeloma—a rare type of cancer in his spine. Barry and Barb’s lives changed dramatically overnight.
While it might have been natural to despair, faith in God has always been part of Barry’s life. He was brought up in a Christian home and was part of the Methodist Church until he moved to Warrnambool (Vic.) in August 1974 with Barb and their two children.
After selling his business, he started to attend The Salvation Army with his family and in 1987 was enrolled as a senior soldier (member) and commissioned as the young people’s sergeant major, overseeing work with young people in his local corps (church). After more than three decades of service, Barry and Barb moved to Ballarat (Vic.).
There, they soon became a valued and loved part of the Delacombe Corps family, taking on leadership and voluntary roles, continuing their life’s work of helping others on their faith journey. It was only worsening health that saw Barry forced to step away from some of his responsibilities to enable him to receive ongoing treatment.
Initially, Barry was taking chemo tablets, receiving injections into his stomach and bone strengthener into his veins. But, after six months of treatment and another MRI, Barry’s doctor was not satisfied with the results, and made the decision to try another course of treatment.
Since then, Barry has gone through different types of treatment on many occasions, and is currently going through weekly bone strengthening and radiation to try to slow the cancer down in his spine. Despite this, Barry says that he has never asked the question, “Why me?”, because his faith has been his main source of strength in facing these challenges. He believes that prayer works—something clearly seen in what God is doing in his life.
When Barry was initially feeling unwell, he didn’t know what was happening. Praying to God for an answer, he firmly believes the quick diagnosis was the result. And, as he has worked through different treatments, Barry says whenever there are problems God guides him and Barb onto the right path, and that they find comfort in prayer and strength through the prayers of others.
To Barry, one big answer to prayer has been that every time new medication is needed that is not on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS), these medications have somehow been made available at reasonable prices—saving thousands of dollars and assisting Barry with his ongoing care.
During times of great uncertainty and challenge, Barry testifies to God’s comfort and peace in his life and has shared that in all he has faced that he has never been afraid. A line from the well-known poem ‘Footprints’ has stood out to him:
“The Lord said, My precious child, I never left you during your time of trial. Where you see only one set of footprints, I was carrying you.”
While Barry and Barb know that the future is uncertain, their trust is in God and they find peace and hope in him as they prepare for the future.