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Notes from the Webmaster about Zola's 2006 battle with cancer

Memorial Service online

June 20th, 2006

You can now watch the Memorial Service for Zola on your computer.

Memorial DVD

June 12th, 2006

The ministry is now selling a memorial DVD entitled “In Loving Memory” for $19 that contains:

  1. a one-hour television special that was recorded at Zola’s memorial service, and
  2. the “In Loving Memory” episode of Zola Levitt Presents where Sandra Levitt talks with Zola’s family, friends and co-workers about their memories of Zola.

In Loving Memory

May 19th, 2006

The next episode of Zola Levitt Presents is called “In Loving Memory.” It is a show of interviews of Zola’s staff and friends about their memories of Zola. It is scheduled to air May 21–May 27 but some networks have aired it earlier. It will be available on this website for watching online a week or so after that.

The next Levitt Letter (July 2006) will also be a memorial to Zola. Many of the comments posted on this page have made their way into the Levitt Letter. Thanks for all your kind words.

Memorial Service and memories

May 10th, 2006

The Memorial service for Zola was held last Sunday.

Many have asked if they could get a recording of the service to watch. Ken Berg’s staff filmed the service and they will be making a video, which will be offered through the ministry. They’re very busy with upcoming TV shows right now, but this will be available in time. And if possible, it will be available for watching on the website.

Ken BergKen Berg had recreated Zola’s TV set on stage—the bookcase along with Zola’s actual desk and chair. On Zola’s desk was a chess set, a few musical recorders Zola played, and there was a set of his golf clubs nearby. There was a small group of musicians on stage and Sammy Davenport, Zola’s musical arranger, was playing piano with them. This was all held in the brand new movie theater-like auditorium of the Fellowship Bible Church, where Zola’s congregation meets weekly. It is actually in an old movie theater that they renovated and was just opened last month. From what I could tell, I think it was about two-thirds full.

Sandra LevittThere was a welcoming prayer and then Zola’s wife, Sandra greeted us and said a few words. Ken Berg talked about the set on stage and told some stories about Zola’s chair and desk. These were second-hand pieces and have always been a bit rickety. But they served their purpose. Ken then told some of his memories about Zola. This led into a video memorial that he created of clips from Zola over the years. It was just wonderful to see.

Ken Berg

Sammy DavenportSammy Davenport talked about his memories of Zola and his music—how Zola would give him music written on napkins and air sickness bags. How he said Zola kept him around when he found out that Sammy could fix Zola’s ice maker. I can relate to that comment. I have gotten many late-night phone calls from Zola needing help to get his iPod or TiVo or PC or PC printer to work. Sammy and the orchestra played a medley of some of Zola’s music, including one of his last, written to Sandra. This is the one that Zola played on the “A Personal Note” TV episode.

Musicians

Zola had his hand in so many things, with the TV show, newsletters, book-writing, lecturing—but he said what really touched him is when people reacted to his music. Music was his first love and he never left it. To TV viewers, it may seem like an afterthought or sideline, but it still really meant a lot to him. He wrote just about all the music used on the TV show and never stopped writing. When there was a lull at a conference or speaking engagement, Zola would often hop on the piano and play a little interlude. He was even very critical of the transitional music on TV shows that they play when coming out of commercial—he just couldn’t listen to most of it (“Why do they need to put in all those drums?!”). A consummate musician. He often had to have restaurants turn their music down when it interrupted the mood. At one in particular, when she saw Zola come in the door the hostess would run for the stereo to turn it off.

Anyway, at some point, Ken showed a “blooper reel” of outtakes from Zola’s TV show. They were very funny and just a joy to watch—something we really needed at a memorial service.

Tom McCallThere were three speakers and all of them were just great. First, Zola’s good friend, Dr. Tom McCall spoke of when he first met Zola, just after Zola had been saved. Someone had told Zola that he was now a gentile since he had accepted the Messiah—Dr. McCall was the one who set him straight on that.

Todd  Baker and the full stage

Todd Baker, one of Zola’s staff theologians and missionary to Israel, spoke about how he first met Zola after having listened to him on the radio for some time. He told the story of how he first met Zola, because of a radio show that was promoting replacement theology. Todd arranged for Zola to be on the show to give a rebuttal. Todd now runs Zola’s congregation.

Tony DerrickTony Derrick, a minister who runs Zola’s travel agency, spoke last. He had many great things to say about Zola but most importantly said that if anyone in the audience hadn’t got themselves right with God that they should do so right now. That was also Zola’s message. Tony then closed out the service.

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Zola said, when he found out that he had this disease, that he had lived the equivalent of four lives in the time that he’s had, he had done so many things. He always surprised me with a story about a job he once had doing something I had no idea he had ever done. So, though it seems like his life was cut short because of all we imagined he could have done in the future, it really wasn’t. Zola considered his life to have been very full.

And God, as always, is still in charge. He knows what is best for us and we will someday understand His decisions better than we do now. Zola had hoped to have lasted until the rapture. But it seems to me that since Zola taught about the rapture so much, it doesn’t really make sense that he should go as a passenger. I fully expect him to be one of the greeters on the other side and to give us a tour of our new home. And I think it’s quite possible that this will happen soon. Perhaps this next feast of Trumpets—or perhaps tomorrow.

Zola had been playing chess for many years, but he studied with an instructor (who I met at the memorial) to improve his game. He would often collaborate with his friend Lou (the editor of the Levitt Letter) over the phone on chess games they would play on the internet. He started playing golf several years ago and became pretty good. He played frequently and studied it on TV, but also had a golf instructor to help him improve his game. These things weren’t just hobbies as most of us would think of them. He didn’t just “do” them, he worked at them. He threw himself fully into them—as I guess he did with most things.

Anyway, that was Zola, and I miss him greatly. But he’s still around in photos and on TV and I still hear his voice in the recordings. Just no more phone calls. It’s still like a dream. A dream that I got to spend so much time with him and his family in the past few years and a dream that he’s now gone from us here. But someday we’ll wake up and be together again.

Greg Hartwig
Webmaster for levitt.com

Thank you

April 21st, 2006

Sandra wanted me to thank all of you for all the wonderful comments you have posted here.

The web site is filled with so many wonderful things said about Zola and the ministry. Please thank everyone for the family. The song “Because He Lives” keeps going thru my mind. I can and will face tomorrow because Yeshua lives.

Sandra

I had been forwarding many of your comments to Zola until a few weeks ago when it became too difficult for him to read them on the computer.  He also said how many of them were just wonderful and how much he enjoyed them.

Memorial service

April 21st, 2006

There will be a public memorial service on Sunday, May 7, at 3 PM at the Fellowship Bible Church in Dallas, TX. This church is located at the Northeast corner of Central Expressway and Park Lane.

I have heard that the church will be broadcasting the service live on their website but I have no real information about this.  I suspect that you can watch the service from their Sunday service broadcast page, but I can’t be sure.  The service will be recorded, so it may be possible to watch it later somehow.  I will post more information here if this can be arranged.

Zola has gone to be with the Lord

April 19th, 2006

I have just heard the news that his promotion has come through. He went very peacefully today at about 11:15 AM at home.

There will be a private, family funeral soon and a memorial service in about two weeks.

A wounded soldier

April 15th, 2006

Here are some excerpts from a letter that Zola wrote around the end of March:

…the Lord has not changed His assignment for me, and so every few days when I feel like I’m having a good morning, I call together our local film crew and I make another program. Of course, we only broadcast once a week with original programs, so there will be an illusion that I’m pretty well able to do this work, and for now I am. But know that four programs will take a month to air, and eight will take two months, and so my condition will undoubtedly deteriorate off-camera. But, on the whole, it’s tolerable for now. My orders have not changed. I’m still a soldier manning a post, and my Commander knows I’m wounded.

So, I’ll continue this work as long as possible. I think we will probably show some very good repeat performances from the past, and possibly some interview programs while I can do that.

I have the feeling my new orders are coming down, which are that I can start to leave this post, but it will be under protest. I still have one more TV program in mind. And after that I suppose that will be my trip to heaven.

Know that each program I make costs many thousands of dollars, but I like the idea that people see that even a wounded soldier remains useful in the ongoing battle.

The future

April 14th, 2006

Here are some paragraphs taken from a letter that Sandra wrote back on March 3, where she summarized this situation very well, and also wrote about the future of the ministry. I know many are wondering about the ministry’s plans for the future. I don’t know if anyone can say how things will unfold for sure, but Sandra says here what the plans are.

Someone once said that, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Zola and I have been so blessed to have been making those plans of speaking, traveling to Israel and making wonderful television programs for many years. Our plans were such that we could tell you where we would be years from now. We were having a wonderful time in the Lord. Now, those plans are changing.

I can also tell you that God is in control and we are in His hands. Already, we see that God has gone ahead of us in many of the details of just getting home, of seeing doctors that are booked solid, of people praying for us, and of friends being with us. We are truly blessed.

I want to also assure you that Zola’s ministry will go on. We are making some adjustments to allow Zola to take treatments and to rest. The Levitt Letter is in good hands with Lou Hays at the helm, Mark Levitt has always done the best job of running the ministry, Tony Derrick and I will continue to take tours to Israel. We have a stable of solid Bible teachers who are available to speak in churches. Ken Berg will produce programs about Israel and current events. As always, the office staff is there to help you. We are all pitching in to continue to make God’s word heard throughout the world.

Zola really is in good spirits. Rereading Psalm 23, I am reminded of the last verse: “and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” That is what life is all about. Being with our Lord forever. Zola always says that we are living our eternal life now; the worst part is living here.

Remember to witness to your friends and family. It is the best medicine for them.

Getting weaker

April 13th, 2006

Well, the disease is taking it’s toll. Zola is becoming weaker every day, it seems. He’s using a wheelchair around the house now. I suspect he’s probably too weak to make any more TV shows. He tires easily when reading, possibly due to the pain medication. He’s also sleeping a lot and his appetite is low. But he’s still making jokes.

His rather sudden loss of strength is a bit frustrating to him, but he’s adapting. He has good home care. Some of the guys from the office are staying with him at night to help him get around the house, in addition to hospice care.

Last Tuesday, April 11, was Zola and Sandra’s wedding anniversary. They were able to go across from their house to the park where they were married and spend some time there. Sandra said it was wonderful. It’s certainly not easy, but she’s holding up very well through all of this–better than I would have imagined. I think it’s because of the inner peace (Shalom) she has, given to believers by the Jewish Messiah. I’m sure you’ve seen that from both of them on recent TV shows.

As Zola said to me last night, “I’ll see you here, there, or in the air.”

More test results

April 2nd, 2006

On Thursday, March 30, Zola was evaluated to see how he did with the radiation and chemotherapy. I’m afraid the results were not too good. The treatments did greatly help the cancer in the lungs and brain but his liver has deteriorated, so I don’t think they’re really concerned with the other things anymore. The prognosis is now set at six to eight weeks.

I’m sorry about having to give this bad news. The good part about this is that liver failure is more gentle than sucumbing to lung cancer. Zola no longer has to be afraid of not being able to take a breath, etc. near the end.

Certainly, no one is ruling out a miracle, though. Zola did say last Friday that if he were to receive a miracle, it would be a big one, because this isn’t just back pain he’s suffering from. On the other hand, though, we don’t want to go against God’s wishes, and maybe it is His will that Zola join him to help welcome people into His kingdom. Maybe God needs some more Levites on His staff.

I say this because, though I don’t know a lot about cancer, Zola’s experience with it has been pretty mild so far. So maybe that right there is our answer to our prayers. If Zola isn’t healed, it certainly won’t be from a lack of prayer. So the only alternative is that this is God’s will.

Zola has access to supplemental oxygen if he were to need it, but it doesn’t seem to help right now. He also has a patch to deliver pain medicine and that has helped a great deal. He’s not in pain, exactly, but he doesn’t feel good and is tired a lot. The patch has helped with that. He has spoken with hospice workers about care that may be necessary down the road. He is now using a walker around the house to keep him steady. So everything necessary is being done.

One thing to remember also, is that the TV shows you see of him talking about his illness were filmed about a month earlier. On days when he feels well enough, he continues to film TV shows. There will come a point where he looks good on TV but is not well in real life. Just something to be prepared for. I will try to keep you updated here.

“Introducing Sandra” episode

March 28th, 2006

This is the latest “personal message” from Zola. It was filmed shortly after the previous one and his voice was still bad. He should sound much better in future episodes. He continues to make new episodes every few days.

It was good to see Sandra make an episode with Zola. She won’t even let me take a picture of her, but she did great in this episode. She just returned from the latest Israel tour and everything went fine.

Zola is still feeling pretty well but his energy isn’t what it used to be. He tires more easily now. Food often tastes metalic, either from the radiation/chemo treatments or other medication he’s taking. He’s still hitting some golf balls now and then.

A break from the treatments

March 22nd, 2006

Last week, Zola had his last radiation and chemo treatments. This is an intermission for a couple of weeks to see how he’s reacting to the treatment. At the end of March, he will be evaluated to see if they should continue or not.

Zola has handled the treatments very well. He has become fatigued from them but hasn’t had any nausea. He has lost about 1/2 of the hair on his head, though. He has started to have a bit of a rebound now that he’s off the treatments.

Sandra will be in Israel with the tour for a week. Zola has had friends staying with them for some time now, helping Sandra out, and they’ll be there while Sandra is gone.

Zola will continue at his post as long as he is able, and he’s still very able. He continues to make TV shows (four last week and several this week).

Next week’s TV show is another personal episode called “Introducing Sandra.”
And so it goes…

Zola tells the audience

March 9th, 2006

I just saw Zola’s show where he tells of his cancer. It premired this morning on PAX and will be seen on most stations next week. Zola speaks very frankly about his condition and what we all need to be doing in our lives. Time is short—for all of us, and we should be living our lives that way. It’s a very personal episode, entitled “A Personal Note” (Episode V1622).

One thing, though, Zola filmed that when his voice was still bad from the pnumonia and the coughing that goes with that (about 3 weeks ago). He sounded “sick” on this show, but his voice is normal again right now in real life. We were at a deli yesterday and he was talking to strangers, just like always.

Anyway, in case anyone was startled by that, I just wanted to say he’s better now.

Lumps

March 6th, 2006

Two small lumps (tumors) have shown up under Zola’s right arm around the lymph nodes.  All part of the disease, I guess.  He’s still feeling fine but gets fatigued now and then.

Diet

March 3rd, 2006

Zola is still tolerating the chemotherapy very well with no ill effects so far. He sleeps through most of the 2.5 hour administration with the help of some Benadryl.

He says he is even feeling a little bit better, like he’s rebounding a bit. But this may be his body getting used to the assaults it’s receiving from the chemo and radiation therapy. His cough is much better also. All in all, he’s still feeling fine and you wouldn’t know he was sick if you didn’t know.

The best part of this for him is no more diet! He is eating whatever he wants—spaghetti, milkshakes, whatever—and loving that!

Send Zola & Sandra a “Prayer Page”

March 2nd, 2006

Zola’s wife Sandra is carrying a “prayer pager.” You can send pager messages to Zola and Sandra to let them know you’re thinking of them.

  1. Call [pager no longer active]
  2. After the beeps, type your message (see below)
  3. Press “#”
  4. You will hear another series of beeps telling that your message has been sent.

Here are some message codes you can send (the numbers spell the word on the phone):

  • Pray — 7729
  • Lord — 5673
  • Heal — 4325
  • Hope — 4673
  • love — 5683
  • Cure — 2873
  • Praise — 7777
  • Rainbow — 8888

Chemotherapy

March 1st, 2006

Zola is handling the chemtherapy well. It’s a bit draining but he’s basically still fine. He hasn’t had any real problems from the chemo as of yet (stomach sickness, appetite loss, etc.).

Also, they say that while he may loose some hair from the chemo and radiation, his beard should remain!

Medication Adjusted

February 24th, 2006

After an adjustment to Zola’s medication, he is feeling much better and no longer has dizzyness or double-vision. He began chemotherapy today without incident.

For a quick summary of Zola’s condition, click on the “Quick Summary” page link shown on the right.

Treatments

February 23rd, 2006

Zola is having daily radiation treatments and has magic marker “cross-hairs” drawn on his body that they use for aiming. He will start weekly chemo treatments on Fridays, starting tomorrow. He’s getting more tired, but then they filmed five TV episodes this week also.

The radiation technician said Zola was the happiest patient he’s seen in that lab. Most are angry and tend to take it out on the technicians. Zola just doesn’t see a reason to be angry—this may just be a promotion by God.


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