Mr. Bean’s Thorn
I am John Bean, from Kingman, Arizona, USA, and free education at CLI is a Godsend for me. Just like the Apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh, so I have had this thorn. Some say this thorn was epilepsy, and this is what I had for 20 years. I have not had a seizure in over five years. However, I live with the stigma that people hold when they hear of my struggles and victories with the Lord.
I have a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies degree, along with two other college degrees. Sadly, they practically became framed toilet paper when I lost much of my memory after a temporal lobectomy (brain surgery) in 2011.
One thing I remember from my youth is Grampa John Bean persistently taking my brothers and me to church for the AWANAS children’s program every week for a few years. I never wanted to go back after I turned 12, though. But then I felt that “thorn” protrude when I was 14 in high school, and I had a seizure about once a week (Complex Partial – mostly just a blank stare).
In Grampa John Bean’s gracious spirit, he sold both of my brothers a vehicle just before they were legally able to drive. I wouldn’t be able to drive until I was seizure-free for a time, which came at age 18. But Gramps had something else for me, and the Kingdom of God too.
New Life Community Church was a church plant started by my Grandpa for the Filipino community of Paradise Hills in San Diego, CA. The church needed a worship team, and he offered me a nice Sonor drumset if I played with them every Sunday. At age 14, I felt far away from God. However, an opportunity to play in front of a perpetual crowd enticed my brother (bass guitar) and me.
The Lord did not let me be on that stage as an instrument for my pride, but as an instrument for the people of God to come closer in praise to Him. Saved by God’s grace, I wanted to teach the youth around me about the change that occurred in me through the Word. So I also became the youth minister.
I got involved in Campus Crusade for Christ at my community college, where I met my wife, Lori. I traveled the USA as a “musicianary” drummer in a swing band. It was with Bill Bright sharing the four spiritual laws. I felt called into ministry and soon enrolled at Southern California Seminary, graduating with a BABS in 2008.
The seizures worsened, and I needed more medication. It got to the point it was toxic, so brain surgery was necessary. I was able to continue in ministry as a drummer. However, I was in and out of work although able to get a driver’s license. Through all this time, Lori and I had four beautiful children.
My dream has always been in ministry in some capacity. My constant prayer to God is to do so in a teaching compacity, but right now I hear Him say “wait” to me. I know I can teach the Word because my family can see the fruit. But my health delayed progress in the church.
Therefore, I became proactive in educating myself on my health since my doctors couldn’t show any progress for 20 years. I learned about other treatments besides the prescribed medications I was on that could help me. I learned restorative therapy through my mind (Christian meditation), body (Daniel Fast losing 90 lbs.), and spirit (prayer, praise, study). It has been what I needed these last few years.
I went from 25 pills/day to 6 pills/day and have a part-time job. I wrote a book about the relationship of the human body (the temple of God) and the Worship of God through the upkeep of His temple (mind, body, spirit). It is called “One Body in Christ, Many Souls in Praise” (on Amazon).
Free Education at CLI
As Paul was given his thorn, Barnabas helped him by taking him to the apostles in Jerusalem. Barnabas explained how Paul had evangelized courageously in the name of Jesus. This once stigmatized opponent of the church was able to associate freely with Jesus’ disciples and proclaim salvation to the unsaved. My hope is that the Christian Leaders Institute can be that Barnabas figure that will show that I can be like Paul and not stigmatized for the thorn.
I have formal education to show that I can produce fruit, but much of the in-depth training has eluded me. I find that free education at CLI is crucial in relearning much of what was lost. My hope is to use this training for ministry in a chaplaincy position at the state prison or in my church. Praise God!