An extraordinary lesson in faith
It would be easy to be heart-broken over the story of Steven Mandeville.
At age 23, the Columbus High School graduate is a newlywed who last month was one day away from starting a new job as a petroleum engineer in Colorado.
A pain in his side took him to a walk-in clinic. Within 24 hours, his world turned inside out.
An ultrasound revealed his liver “looked odd,” Mandeville said last week.
More tests confirmed the unthinkable -- advanced stage liver cancer.
Doctors at the University of Colorado Hospital explained that his condition was advanced and that even aggressive treatment wouldn’t extend his life. With his wife, Ellen, parents Jim and Paula, and brother Ben, by his side, Mandeville opted to come home to Columbus and enjoy his days.
But Mandeville’s story is not one of tragedy, but rather that of an extraordinary young man of tremendous faith and perspective.
“It’s a win-win,” said Mandeville with an engaging smile. “If God brings me home, I get to go to heaven. If I live, I get to stay here with my wife.”
Signs of divine intervention
Although he is not undergoing treatment, the Mandeville family has far from given up hope as the devout Christian family have seen the hand of God already at work in this situation:
•The first doctor and nurse Mandeville saw pushed hard to get him to the University of Colorado Hospital within hours.
•That first doctor was Chinese and was able to quickly and easily communicate with Ellen as to what was taking place.
•Many of Mandeville’s doctors at the University of Colorado Hospital were women of faith.
•His own father was nearby when the stunning news was delivered.
•The pain and swelling that doctors said would not go away has completely disappeared.
“God had the right people there for us...It`s hard to call things coincidences,” said Mandeville. “We think God is going to heal me.”
He also acknowledges having some down moments but focuses on the positives.
“To be sad or angry takes away from joy,” said Mandeville.
A Love Story
Mandeville was a freshman at Montana Tech - College of Technology in Butte when he went on the first of three mission trips to China through a campus ministry group. It was during that first trip that he met the beautiful and personable Ellen, who was working at a coffee house.
He returned four more times and the couple became engaged on Dec. 19, 2013.
The couple decided each would finish school before marrying.
Ellen studied English and completed post-graduated work in mass communication at the University in Jiangxi, located in the southwestern portion China. They had a ceremony in China in January and then a ceremony at Columbus Evangelical on Feb. 2.
As Ellen left to attend to some paperwork and Mandeville was left to their story by himself, she playfully called out “details Steven, details!”
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
It is fitting that Mandeville has long lived his life according to the above scripture.
It’s ironic that although 60 percent of his liver is occupied by cancer and that it has now spread to his lungs, Mandeville said he feels better than he ever has, part of that he credits to his wife’s diet of healthier eating.
The outpouring of prayers, food, visitations, money and more since his return to Columbus has been immense and humbling. Kerry and Nadeen Kovanda helped with all of the logistics while Steven and Ellen were in Colorado and allowed the entire family to be at the hospital with no extra worries.
“There is no way to adequately express our thanks, other than to say a huge, thank you and God bless you to everyone,” said Mandeville. “We are truly blessed to live in this community and it’s support and the support of so many wonderful friends and family, literally, around the world.”
Tailgate Celebration benefit
In response to the outpouring support the Mandeville family has recieved, a celebration tailgate event will be held this Saturday as a pay-it-forward idea.
From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Columbus High School football field, the community is welcome to come take part in several activities. An alumni football game will be played at 11 a.m. followed by a noon to 2 p.m. BBQ tailgate. There will also be a silent auction and activities for younger children. There will be a free will offering of which 100 percent will go to Christian Mission scholarships, which is a passion of Steven Mandeville’s.
Dave Seibert will be on hand to call the football game, which will be broadcast on the radio.