Mike Graham will pass the baton of leadership of the Acts II weekend group at Southeast Christian Church's Blankenbaker Campus to longtime class member Steve Underwood at the end of May. At the same time, the class of 50 to 60 adults will switch to the 10:45 time slot on Sunday mornings to allow for continued growth.
After teaching for 20 years, Graham believes it’s time to step aside.
“This class is getting a really Godly teacher who does a lot of preparation,” Graham said. “Steve is a faithful charter member of the class.”
The Acts II class includes a wide range of ages from 55 to 94 and includes singles as well as couples. Graham will continue to attend the class and teach when Underwood needs a substitute.
Senior Adults Minister Don Waddell said the time change will provide better opportunities for people to get involved in the overall activity of the church.
“I teach a 7:45 a.m. class of seniors, and I am aware of how hard it is to get to class when the sun hasn’t come up yet.”
Stepping down gives Graham more flexibility and time with family. Time is a gift he understands.
Twenty-five years ago, Graham was diagnosed with lymphoma and given months to live. Since then, he’s had five brain surgeries, two back surgeries, a year of chemotherapy for a brain tumor plus radiation. He’s had MRSA five times and heard doctors say there was nothing more they could do. He almost died twice of pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining of the heart.
“At my last appointment, doctors just shook their heads and said I was good for four more months,” Graham said. “They really don’t understand it. Everything I read about my brain tumor says I should already be dead from that alone.”
If doctors and nurses are baffled by Graham’s health history, they are even more surprised by his attitude.
Graham simply tells his story again and again.
“Either way I win,” he tells people. “I guess God’s not finished with me yet. When people ask why God still has me here, I tell them that I have no idea. I’ve seen wonderful men and women die with the same diagnosis. I’m not that great a person. My friend Murphy Belding once said, ‘God just doesn’t want you yet.’”
Underwood believes there is another answer.
“Mike is a gift from God to the church,” he said. “I believe that’s why cancer couldn’t take him. He’s ready to go, but as long as he’s here, he’s working for the Kingdom. Retirement for Mike is a misnomer.”
In addition to teaching the Acts II class for 20 years, Graham was on the Southeast staff from 1988 to 2009 as administrator, then led the church’s benevolence ministry. He still serves as a minister on call, leads a small group and makes hospital visits. He’s one of the first to respond when someone faces a diagnosis of cancer.
Underwood is an expository Bible teacher who will take the class through books of the Bible. In addition to studying the Bible, the class also supports a number of mission projects around the world.