Tag Archives: overcome challenges

My Recent Interview with Pentecostal Evangel Magazine

I wanted to share this with you.  It is an interview that appeared April 19, 2016 in “Pentecostal Evangel Magazine Online.”  Below is the article.


Official news source of the Assemblies of God


Lessons of Hope

by  DEANN ALFORD on April 19, 2016

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At age five, doctors diagnosed Jeff Grillo with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease. At 21, tests revealed he had developed two forms of malignant cancer, one with a 90 percent death rate.

Grillo had no medical insurance; eight weeks of chemotherapy saved his life, but wiped him out financially. He opted against declaring bankruptcy, which left him with debt that took him more than a decade to repay.

But Grillo refuses to dwell on his blindness or the chronic pain that still besets his body following cancer treatment and later heart valve problems. He has become associate rabbi of Rock of Israel, a Messianic Assemblies of God congregation in Hickory, North Carolina. He launched his own YouTube channel with videos designed to impart hope amid trials.

He also has authored a pair of motivational books, The Excuse Assassin and Power In Perseverance, that detail his challenges and how he has overcome limitations. Grillo wants others to see that Romans 8:28 holds true even in the face of calamity. His mission is to share that hope with others.

“Do I want to take the world’s view that I’m just very unfortunate or accept the biblical view that there’s something else going on here?” Grillo asks. “God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness. We shouldn’t allow our challenges to get the best of us.”

A common question that the 46-year-old Grillo hears is how can he continue to preach and teach that God heals while he’s blind?

“What you don’t see is the miraculous part of my story,” Grillo says. “I should be dead.”

Modern medicine did save his life, even if it left him in pain and with a chemo-damaged body.

“It doesn’t matter what your circumstances or challenges are in life,” Grillo asserts. “There’s something to be learned from it, a valuable life lesson critical to becoming who you were meant to be in the body of Messiah.”

For every obstacle, including those seemingly insurmountable, he’s found a way around or through it. After studying at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, he embarked on a career in radio and Internet communications. Though he hasn’t been able to read printed text for decades, technology empowers him to “read” through audio books.

“If a person wants to do something, there’s a way the obstacles and crises in our lives can be overcome,” Grillo says. “Ultimately we all need to be completely dependent on Jesus. God really can use anybody. It’s all by faith that we walk with him.”

The Rock of Israel Messianic AG congregation started two years ago. Before that, Cliff Maynard, a Messianic rabbi, led a Bible study in Grillo’s living room. Today the congregation has moved to its own building. Average attendance is 55.

“Jeff wants to do something for God in the capacity God has given him, to be able to help others overcome their disability,” Maynard says. “Jeff is extremely kind, passionate about people, loyal, and loves God. He wants to win people to Messiah.”

To that end, Grillo carries out essential functions in the congregation, including much of the church’s media. He creates a weekly study, both in writing and from the pulpit.

How to Deal with Crisis

One way I like to measure personal growth is to to consider how one handles a crisis.

Crisis is one of those dirty little words in life we simply cannot escape.  It is a constant companion that may take a brief vacation from time to time, but it always knows its way home to you!  When speaking about crisis, I always love to point out an amazing lesson on crisis from the Chinese perspective.  The word for crisis in Chinese is made up of two characters.  Individually, they are danger and opportunity.  I could almost end this blogpost right here!  The self-evident lesson in the idea that crisis is made up of danger, as well as, opportunity is pretty immense and has great application in our everyday life.

First, I want to just make solid the point that when crisis enters our life, whatever form it takes, we tend to only see the danger aspect of it.  If we take a moment to take a breath and understand that hidden within the danger of the moment there is a hidden gem of opportunity of one type or another it should guide our every decision during the course of the current calamity.

The evaluation of personal growth in the midst of crisis is, or at least can be, summed up in the statement that mature people will respond to the crisis while immature people simply react.  Reactions tend to almost always lead to bad or unintended consequences while deliberate, thoughtful decisions made in response to the calamity will tend towards the betterment of the mature individual.

Using the crises in my life that have guided me for quite some time may help you to understand somewhat of what I am trying to convey.  The loss of my eyesight is something I have had to deal with for practically all of my life.  It has been a long, gradual decline, but hit a crescendo on November 14,1999 when I finally lost my driver’s license.  We can also look at the crisis of cancer some seven years earlier.  First, with respect to the crisis of lost freedoms with the loss of my license; the danger there was obvious.  I was faced with potentially falling into the trap of forever being completely dependent upon others for pretty much everything in life.  Couple that with the crisis of facing my own mortality during the cancer crisis which taught me to live life with a sense of urgency and you can see how my path ultimately was directed by seemingly terrible events.  I say seemingly because in the end they did not destroy me, but have taught me valuable lessons over the years.  I cannot write this and say with any honesty that I have always responded to these challenges!  There were plenty of reactions —reactions that cost me dearly in terms of lost time, various kinds of setbacks and emotional pain.  Will you make mistakes along the road?  Of course! If you are an adult reading this, you can likely point to a long list of reactions that have cost you dearly.  That is ok as long as you learn from them and grow to the point where you learn and recognize as each new crisis comes along that you need to slow down and respond rather than react.  Recognizing the need to do this  in and of itself is a sign of maturity.  Have you ever reacted to a situation off the cuff, perhaps even in anger and later looked back at it saying, “boy that was a great decision I made in danger.”  I think not!  But when we feel the urge to react, we should allow this to be our flashing sign to pull back, slow down and think things through and look for the hidden opportunity within the immediate crisis.  It may come to the forefront quickly, or it may take a little time.  It is ok to wait and act from a place of patience and wisdom.

The opportunities are there.  Commit to yourself now to seek them out in every crisis!