Yolie Betts: A Panoramic View of God
By Selma Komisky
Yolie Betts is a pastor’s wife married to Senior Pastor Quint Betts of Calvary Chapel Clovis in New Mexico. This is her reflection of her husband’s journey of Stage 4 Tonsil cancer and how she gained a panoramic view of God through it.
Briefly tell me how you and Quint met, when you got married, and how many children you have?
We met at a singles study at Calvary Chapel and we dated all together nine months. We got married in 1995 and have three children: Bo who is 17, Grace who is 16, and Josh who is 11.
Can you shed some light on when Quint started showing symptoms and you didn’t know it was cancer yet?
He had a lump in what we thought was his neck and it would kind of come and go and that was in January of 2009. It didn’t hurt him and he wasn’t having trouble swallowing or breathing or anything like that. Maybe we just didn’t notice it or maybe it was just a constant thing because he wasn’t feeling sick or anything and he was in his second year at School of Ministry at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa at the time.
Did Quint always want to be a pastor?
I think the Lord had already told him that he would be a pastor but he ran from it for many years. It wasn’t until he broke his arm in 2007 that the Lord had put it on his heart to go to the School of Ministry. He ran from it because we were successful in our business and I guess he just didn’t want to do it at that point. When he was getting his arm casted he was in extreme pain and he said, “Okay Lord, I’ll surrender.” If I remember correctly he was having me fill out his school of ministry application while we were in the orthopedic office.
Can you share with me about that day when you got the news about his diagnosis?
It was June 2009. We were at the Grand Canyon and we were actually on our way to a missions trip but we stopped at the Grand Canyon because that’s on our way and he told the nurse, “Just call me with the results, I don’t care what the results are.” The Lord had already I think told him because he was so calm about it that I couldn’t believe it. When they called him we had just got to the Grand Canyon and we had just parked and they called him and he was like, “Okay, okay, alright. Thank you,” and he hung up. He had no shocked look on his face. He had nothing. And that’s why I’m saying I think the Lord had already told him. He just got off and he went with the kids to look at the Grand Canyon. I was in shock, I said, “What happened? What did they say?” He said matter-of-factly, “Oh I have cancer.”
I think when we were there, I can’t remember exactly what day it was but they wanted us to go back in a hurry and he said, “What for? There’s nothing that’s going to happen within four days that we’re going to serve the Lord in Arizona.” He was like, “No, we’re going to serve the Lord and do what the Lord called us to do.” He also had just graduated from the school of ministry and so I think he already knew that after he was going through the treatment he wouldn’t be able to speak.
When I got the news, I was in disbelief like, Lord, how can you can do this? I couldn’t believe it. It was pretty incredible because at the Grand Canyon you make several stops and at the first stop I didn’t get off because I was just so overwhelmed and I just cried. The next stop he said, “You need to get off,” and I said okay. So I got off and I looked at how big the Grand Canyon is and I said, “You know Lord, you are a BIG God and if you choose to heal my husband, I know he will serve you” and I was okay after that.
Going back home, what were your thoughts?
It was a mission’s weekend to help the Native Americans in Arizona. So we did that and
chose not to tell the family until we got back so we could tell them in person. Quint didn’t want to tell anybody and I just felt so overwhelmed I thought I had to tell the whole world and I just wanted to shout to the world, “Help me, help me!” I felt that’s what we needed to do and at first he said, “I don’t want anybody to know” and I said “Why?” When I told him that we need their prayers and support, he agreed.
So I just remember emailing a few good friends and people in leadership. It is amazing the technology we have today. Pastors and their churches were praying for us all over as we branched out. Sometimes you don’t know what to pray for. We just asked for the Lord to show us what doctors to go to and that was basically the extent of our prayer. It is amazing how the Lord directed us and lined everybody up. Our radiologist was a believer and our oncologist was not a Christian but he could see Christ in us and we were able to share with him. We sought their advice and we did it. I know the Lord used the medication and treatment. It was a new kind of chemo which didn’t make him lose his hair but of course he got very sick. He got tonsillar cancer (stage four) on his tonsils and in a couple of his lymph nodes.
Can you share with me about how it was serving and being a caretaker to your husband?
While I was taking care of him, we sold our house during this time because we knew he would not be able to work and we knew we were going into the ministry. He was starting to get really sick at this point (three or four weeks into his chemo) and that’s the time when we were closing our home. He couldn’t get off the couch and I had my weeks mixed up because I didn’t even know what day it was. My kids were of course a lot younger and my Mom was there as a great support but I thought we had another week to pack and prepare. So, I had to pack up the house by myself. That’s when you really rely on the Lord and there’s nothing else you can do but rely on Him – which was an incredible place to be because through the hardest time of your life, it turned out to be a blessing.
I remember getting an e-mail and I got two replies for people to help us pack. It was the weekend of the Harvest Crusade and my friend said, “I guarantee I will be there to help but I have to leave early.” I don’t know how or when it happened but people started to show up in droves. I just thought it was just going be three of us then there were around 30 people within a hour. From the time we started in two hours, they packed up a 2,700 square foot house. Everything was packed up and it was incredible how everyone was working together. It was a humbling experience really but it was incredible. It was awesome to see the body of Christ come together.
Tell me about how God moved you to Clovis, New Mexico in the middle of going through this journey of cancer?
Quint had already been looking here in New Mexico and he actually didn’t get a confirmation until almost a year later where we were going to be and I think it gave him the time to recover. We looked at 80 houses and put about 50 bids and the Lord closed the door on every single bid. Then Quint said, “The Lord does not want us here. We need to pray about where he’s going to send us.” We put a bid on a house and we had never been to Clovis. We could not get a loan and we were getting frustrated. We had perfect credit scores and we couldn’t get a loan.
I remember he and I were both listening to Pastor James MacDonald and the Lord had prepared our hearts. At first I didn’t want to go and I would think, How am I going to leave my mom and family? Then I would get excited because people were saying, “The Lord is sending you out,” and I was an emotional roller coaster. The message was about going ahead of God and making our own plans on how we are going to do things. Quint listened to the same message. We were trying to work it out and the Lord was saying, “I will do it.” We just had to leave it in the Lord’s hands and in two days we got the loan and the we got the house in Clovis.
Tell me how Calvary Chapel Clovis first got started?
We knew we were coming to plant a church and we didn’t know how or what were going to do. We wanted to go to a Calvary so we drove two hours to Amarillo, Texas to go to church. Quint was asking other pastors where there would be a good location to church plant and they all confirmed Cannon Air Force Base which would be Clovis, New Mexico.
We did a little bible study and at the church in Amarillo, Texas, we met an older couple and they blessed us and they just wanted to support us and come alongside us. We launched our church by meeting in a RV park and the people from Texas had a Big Wheel so they would just come to have church with us. It was just six or eight of us and we just had a sign out and people would see it. We got a little bit bigger and then we moved to a gym that is part of Trinity United Methodist Church. Now we have 15-30 people.
Was Quint’s voice back and was he stronger when you started the church?
When we were in Clovis, we got the news that Quint was in remission September 11th, 2010 and we had our first service September 12th, 2010. It was a year to the date that we started the church. When he would preach the word his voice would come back.
What is God doing today and what hope can you share with others going through the same thing?
Today, it’s been over five years and I want people to know that the Lord is faithful and he’s going to be with us every step of the way regardless of the outcome. He’s not going to leave us or forsake us during the most difficult time of our life. There was one night that Quint had no more of his own strength to go on. I remember this overwhelming feeling like he was going to die and I remember crying out to the Lord saying, “I can’t do this without him and I can’t raise my kids by myself.” He said, “My grace is sufficient for you” and I immediately felt like I was going to be okay.
I never gave up my ministry because that was the only thing that was normal. I tried to keep our kids lives as normal as we could. I had my son stay with Quint but I continued and he continued up until the time he couldn’t do it anymore and that’s what the Lord wants from us. Sometimes we can get into despair and say, “Oh I have cancer” or “I am sick” but Quint really pushed himself until he couldn’t literally get out of bed anymore and that was three weeks into the radiation. It was probably four or five months when he got back into helping me again. If there is one thing I could encourage others with it would be, don’t let cancer stand in the way. Do what God has called you to do!
Find out more about Yolie and Quint at: http://www.calvarychapelclovis.com
(Photos Courtesy of Yolie Betts)