Dose of Truth

An important life lesson

Tim Richards

You may not recognize the name Craig Shergold, but it is likely you have heard his story, and may have even participated in it. This British child become ill in 1988. After many doctor’s visits, physicians diagnosed the 9-year-old with terminal brain cancer.

You would never have heard Craig’s story if his mother had not observed how much her son loved receiving get well cards. She joined forces with their hospital in a campaign requesting cards for her son and raising money for cancer research. The media quickly picked up the story of a little boy dying of cancer and who wanted to break the Guinness World Record by receiving the most mail.

The record at that time was 1,000,065 greeting cards and to say Shergold’s attempt to break the record was successful would be is a colossal understatement. Shergold’s name was added to the 1991 Guinness Book of World Records for having received 16,250,692 cards. Guinness updated the information in 1992 and reported he had received 33 million cards. Estimates are that over his lifetime he received an astonishing 350 million, and because Shergold’s request became an urban legend cards are still coming.

Shergold’s mother was not a strong Christian prior to her son’s illness but she came to believe God would save her son despite the doctor’s bleak diagnosis. Her faith was severely tested when their trusted surgeon told them to take Craig home to die in 1991 because he had only weeks to live.

During that time, get well cards and letters continued pouring in, but the vast majority went unopened as his condition deteriorated. According to a movie later made about Shergold, “The Miracle of the Cards,” his mother, Marion, felt drawn to open one specific letter. It was from American billionaire John Kluge who had heard of Shergold’s illness. He offered to pay all the family’s expenses if they would bring Craig to the U.S. for a new surgical option that was not available in England. His surgery at the University of Virginia Medical Center was a resounding success. The surgeon removed all but a small benign fragment of the tumor, and Craig fully recovered. In fact, he lived until April 21, 2020, when at age 40 he died of COVID-19 related pneumonia.

My point is not that God heals everyone with brain cancer, he does not. Nor will every person who prays always get the answer they want. We need to be reminded of Solomon’s words, that there is, “…a time for every activity under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, NLT)

When we face challenges bigger than we are, we should pray, asking God for what we want and need, but always understanding God may say yes, or no. The reality is no one lives here forever, and since that is true we need to view each day as a gift, because… well… it is!

Tim Richards

has been a pastor for 37 years, serving five churches, including his current church, The Refuge in St. Louis, which he founded. He and the congregation minister to those who are hurting and do their part to expand God’s kingdom. Tim and his wife Kelly have five children. “A Dose of Truth” which he has written for more than 25 years appears in 13 newspapers. His book, “Thriving in the Storm: Discovering God’s Peace and Perspective in Turbulent Times,” is available from Amazon. Feel free to contact him at Photography is another of his skills. Pastor Tim’s photos may be viewed at