Cuople’s Personal Tragedy Now Helps Others Who Struggle With Loss

by | Jan 31, 2004 | Charisma Archive

Since the death of their 6-year-old daughter, Harry and Cheryl Salem have been helping people find healing from grief
After spending years traveling to encourage congregations to become people of dynamic faith, Harry and Cheryl Salem are finding a new audience–through some of their prayers that were not answered.

The Tulsa, Okla.-based traveling ministers are helping people struggling with loss find new hope by sharing their own personal story of tragedy.

Although close friends such as Oral Roberts, Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland prayed for her, the Salems’ 6-year-old daughter Gabrielle died of cancer in 1999 after battling the disease for almost a year.

The family faced the ordeal publicly. They continued to travel in ministry, with the young girl appearing to sing hooked up to an IV drip on occasions.

Many joined in praying for Gabrielle, but after her funeral one man approached Harry Salem–formerly a senior leader in Roberts’ ministry–and told him his daughter had died because Salem did not have enough faith.

Just three months later, while they were still reeling from Gabrielle’s death, the couple discovered that Cheryl, a singer and former Miss America, had cancer and needed surgery. Their message of faith was being challenged.

“It’s easy to have faith when everything is going good. Faith really comes out when things are tough and when you don’t see what you are hoping for,” Harry Salem said. “We went from faith to trust. Faith is believing for something good in the future; trust is going on when it doesn’t happen.”

The Salems have recounted their journey in two books–From Mourning to Morning and From Grief to Glory–and in numerous TV appearances. They have also found themselves speaking on grief and ministering to individuals they meet as they continue to travel to churches with their two sons, Harry III, 17; and Roman, 14.

“We have a deeper message,” Harry Salem said. “Our ministry has exploded because there are more people out there waiting for their miracles because they didn’t get their first one, people sitting in churches asking: ‘What did I do wrong? Where did I fail?'”

Now cancer-free, Cheryl Salem said she had learned “you can’t have religious ideas about grief. It has no economic lines, no political lines; people deal with so many forms of loss–maybe a loved one, sometimes a career or a marriage. People grieve over some of the strangest things.”

They encourage people to be honest about their feelings and doubts. “People say a faith person shouldn’t ask why,” Harry Salem said. “Jesus hung on a cross and asked, ‘My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ Our flesh has a voice.”

For the Salems, part of their healing came from gaining a higher perspective. “God showed us that Gabrielle was not in our past, she was in our future,” Cheryl Salem said. “She is healed, whole, happy, filling heaven with joy. You can’t go forward looking back. … We had to begin to let God give us a new vision for our life.”

The Salems were not strangers to adversity. Harry lost his father at age 10, while Cheryl overcame the injuries of childhood sexual abuse and a serious car wreck. They knew they had to work hard to avoid the marriage and family breakdown many who suffer serious loss experience.

“If you focus on what you don’t have, you will lose what you do have,” Harry Salem said. “Gabrielle is where we want her to go; we still have two boys and still have choices to make. We can’t neglect them.”

They said the outpouring of love and support they received from around the country helped them. “We had to decide, do you still go on when you have no answer? That’s the real question in life,” Harry Salem said. “Can you go on when you don’t always get a yes? We all go through stages when we don’t understand, and the question is, ‘Do I still serve God when I don’t understand?'”

They find reliving their experiences tiring at times, but satisfying. Cheryl Salem said one day God showed her that “only scars that have changed other people’s lives will be seen in heaven. This [loss] is one of those scars that we have, and we want it to be one that we keep for eternity because we want it to change other people’s lives.”
Andy Butcher


Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


Have We Departed From the  Simplicity of Christ?

Have We Departed From the Simplicity of Christ?

Recently I heard a pastor say the following: "When I was pastoring and saw little fruit, I began to call those with potential to reach others for Christ to our home and to mentor them one on one. That's where massive growth happened in the people." Local pastors and...

Take the Fight to the Enemy, Before He Strikes at You

Take the Fight to the Enemy, Before He Strikes at You

Read Time: 3 Minutes 7 Seconds “When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek out David; and when David heard of it, he went down to the stronghold,” (2 Sam. 5:17). When David heard that he was under...

Joyce Meyer: Becoming a Prisoner of Hope

Joyce Meyer: Becoming a Prisoner of Hope

Read Time: 3 Minutes 56 Seconds God is good. And He has a good plan for each of our lives. No matter what may be going on right now, God’s plan is unfolding. In the meantime, Romans 12:12 tells us to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer,”...

Victimized By Gaslighting? 5 Steps to Finding Freedom

Victimized By Gaslighting? 5 Steps to Finding Freedom

Read Time: 2 minutes 26 seconds The term "gaslighting" has gone viral across social media this year and Merriam-Webster chose it as their word-of-the-year, saying searches for the word spiked 1,740% in 2022 alone. We're breaking down what the Bible has to say about...


WATCH: Vlad Savchuck: Life, Health and the Bible During a recent visit to @HungryGeneration, Pastor Vlad Savchuk asked Bill Wiese to comment on his personal experience applying the Word of God to his own...
Miraculous Divine Intervention Birthed by Thanksgiving and Praise

Miraculous Divine Intervention Birthed by Thanksgiving and Praise

Read Time: 4 Minutes 2 Seconds When I first became a believer in 1970, my mother was one of my first “converts," giving her heart to Jesus as soon as I shared with her the beauty, the power and the opportunity of making Jesus the Lord of her life. However, my father...

I’m Going Defcon G on the Enemy

I’m Going Defcon G on the Enemy

Read Time: 1 Minute 32 Seconds The last six years have been the best of times and the worst of times. I’ve seen more death, destruction, disease and devastation than I care to remember. I’ve also seen the hand of God move in extraordinary ways. Indeed, sometimes I...

Prophetic Vision: ‘Now is the Time of Your Healing’

Prophetic Vision: ‘Now is the Time of Your Healing’

Read Time: 3 Minutes 41 Seconds I was remembering a time when my husband and I were praying over friends who had been in a situation for many years that had caused deep trauma to their souls. As we were praying for them, I became aware of an angel standing over them...

5 Ways to Improve Your Emotional and Spiritual Health

5 Ways to Improve Your Emotional and Spiritual Health

Read Time: 4 Minutes 50 Seconds Do you believe the Lord is concerned about your emotional and spiritual health? He is. He wants you to know how to improve your emotional and spiritual health to be resilient in turbulent times. One of the most powerful things you can...

Pin It on Pinterest