Death Is Not Dying (Rachel Barkey)

I met Rachel Sawyer in the Fall of 1991 when I began attending a Christian gathering at the University of Western Ontario. At the time, Rachel was the president of the group—already a mentor among her peers.

I confess that, even with the onset of facebook, I have lost contact with many of my friends from that time. The same might be true of my relationship with Rachel if she hadn’t married my friend, Neil Barkey. (Neil was my counselor at Muskoka Woods when I was a teenager). I haven’t seen Neil or Rachel in many years, but have tracked their lives with interest through our mutual friends.

On March 4, Rachel delivered a message to nearly 600 women at the River Rock Show Theatre in Vancouver BC. The title of her message was, “Death is not Dying: A Faith That Saves” (sponsored by Westside Church).

Rachel Barkey is dying of cancer, but as she wrote in a January email, “God will use this for His glory. There is no doubt. And, in the depths of my sadness, that makes my heart glad.”

As a preacher, I sometimes field comments about the length of Sunday messages–mainly from those who wish them to be no more than 20 minutes in length. Rachel’s message was 55 minutes long, and I hung on her every word. Her message oozed with sincerity, integrity, and biblical truth.

Rachel’s message has 4 prongs: 1) Know God, 2) Know Yourself, 3) Know The Gospel, and 4) Know Your Purpose

Rachel’s perspective of God demonstrates a thorough understanding of the Scriptures and an unshakable faith. In the midst of suffering, she persists, “God is good. He is in control. And He is fair.”

In a message saturated with grace and wisdom, one of my favourite sections was Rachel’s response to those who have been asking ‘Why?’ ‘Why would God allow a young mother of two young kids to get cancer?’

In Rachel’s words:

I don’t ask why because I know the answer: We live in a sinful world. Bad things happen. But it was not supposed to be this way. And it will not always be this way. God has a plan. He has made a way for sinful people to be with Him in a perfect world. The way is Jesus.

Suffering has tested, but not shaken the faith of Rachel Barkey. Her testimony is nothing short of inspiring. Rachel’s message (below) is one of the best explanations of the Christian message I have ever heard. Moreover, her message is one of the best explanations of why things are the way they are that I have ever heard. Listening to Rachel Barkey this morning was an outstanding way to spend an hour of my day. The least I can do is encourage those who read this blog to have the same opportunity to spend an hour well.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


The video of this message has been added recently and may be viewed here.


Rachel was recently a guest on The Drew Marshall Show and her interview can be heard here.


Rachel Barkey went to be with her Lord on July 2, 2009.
Rachel’s testimony continues to be the most read post on this blog.

15 thoughts on “Death Is Not Dying (Rachel Barkey)

  1. Thank you for sharing Rachel Barkey’s message. Her courage, grace and steadfast faith under such adversity are truly an inspiration. She seems like the kind of person who touches souls–she certainly touched mine.

  2. It has been really difficult to hear her testimony – it isn’t an easy message to grasp or understand… but it is worth the internal wrestling that takes place – it glorifies God. Rachel’s message is challenging, inspiring, and hard – it denies self, which is generally a painful process… but one worth it to see God live, to see God shine, to see God as Holy…
    I also want to share your blog with the audio message, with my friends and family and church.

  3. Thanks for the comments so far. Rachel delivered a hugely important and highly relevant message on March 4. I’m so pleased to learn that people are sharing the link so that others will hear this hope-inspiring message.

  4. in my tears I can truly say, Rachel, you have been used to glorify God, and to further my walk with Him. Thank you, for living for Him

  5. I was forwarded the link by Dave Anderson. Thanks to you for providing this portrait of courage and wisdom expressed in Rachel’s testimony. Very inspirational. My heart goes out to her, Neil and the family. May the Lord’s grace truly be sufficient for their journey ahead.

  6. This link was forwarded to me by my brother. I cannot tell you how much your story has meant to me. About twelve years ago a girl in the youth group (that I was a youth sponsor for), her mother was diagnosed with an oral cancer of the tounge. I sent the girl a card told her that I was praying for her and her family and shared my life passage with her. It is from 2 cor: 4: 16-18. I hadn’t seen her for quite a few years and then I ran into her at church in the fall of 2004 she told me how much the passage meant to her and she quoted it to me
    “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
    Easter weekend of 2005 I was dianosed with a stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the left tonsil that had spread to the lympnods in my neck. This passage of scripture took on a whole new significance in my life again. Being that it was Easter weekend I spent a lot of time thinking about how much Christ had suffered for me , so that regardless of what the outcome of the cancer was that I could spend eterninty with Him. In that place there will be no more cancer, no more shame, no more fear and no more pain, and God Himself will wipe away every tear from our eyes.
    Thank you so much Rachel for reminding me to Focus on the unseen and the eternal there were many tears as I listened to you share your story I know the words you speak are words of truth but my heart heart breaks for you, for Neil and for Quinn and Kate. Be sure that you are in my prayers ..

  7. My dear friend and brother Bryn,

    A number of people have forwarded me this link to your blog, and I have finally been compelled to click through and read. I am not the techie in the family, that is my wife. Rachel has followed your blog, as well as countless other for a number of years now on a regular basis. She values your thoughts and insight. This is largely based on who you’ve deliberately chosen to be influenced by…you are attracted to the same authors, both the old and new reformers who’s central message is about Jesus.

    WE have good days, and bad days here…today being a bad day. The cancer is continuing to take over her earthly body, it is quite pervasive through her bones, and it is this that causes the most pain.

    This is a difficult journey, one that we are dependent on God to carry us through. There are not words to capture how I feel as I have to watch Rachel suffer this way. However, “”We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first” (Hebrews 3:14). And, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess” (Hebrews 4:14). I / we will do this, by his grace, ultimately for His glory.

    Thank you for honoring Rachel by highlighting her story in your blog.

  8. Hi Bryn!
    I wanted to listen to her message for a small group discussion at my church. I was wondering if you could post the link again?
    Her message was really inspiring.
    Thanks in advance!

  9. Neil: Thanks so much for your words. Praying lots for consolations and mercies to abound for your family. By every appearance, Rachel’s message is spreading far and wide, inspiring many and bringing glory to our Lord.

  10. Emily: The audio for Rachel’s message is embedded at the bottom of the post. It should work in most web browsers.

  11. Rachel:Thank you so much for this message. It was truly God inspired and ordained. Thank you for all you went through to deliver it. You and your family will be in my prayers for as long as the Lord lays you all on my heart.

  12. Bryn,
    You dont’ know me, but I just stumbled across Rachel’s message online and am listening to it now. I’m speechless. So powerful. I’m an old friend of hers from high school (we played basketball together). I’ve been googling to try and find a way to get a message to her but haven’t come across anything except your site where Neil has commented. Would you be so kind as to pass on to her as to what an amazing and powerful legacy her message is. And that she may experience the depth of HIS peace as she walks through this.
    Thank you.

  13. Thank you for the honesty of this message! I’ve had it sitting in my unread messages since March 23, 2009 and today I finally listened. What TRUTH! I am so humbled by this courageous and bold speaking of God’s word and purposes. I cannot believe I lost sight of this passion in my life. As I was driving home from Father’s Day today I was reflecting on my journey and how much things have changed as a result of a divorce.

    The content of this message is so rich with His word that it will be salt! I am forever touched by this testimony and with an attitude of gratefulness I will follow the purpose for which I am created. Thank you Rachel!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *