”I think it is right to refresh your memory [of the Gospel of our LORD Jesus Christ] as long as I live in the tent of this body…” (2 Peter 1:12-13). Last fall I sensed something off in my body. Tests led to a diagnosis in mid-December of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, an incurable but slowly progressive form of cancer. I waited to share this news with our congregation until early January so we could all enjoy the Christmas season together.
- First the bad news: Because my immune system is now compromised by this blood-born cancer, a secondary infection could quickly lead to fatal complications, so I need to stay healthy, avoiding my typical handshakes/hugs with all those who is sick! Healthy folks—business as usual. That caution has to go for Sallie as well because I sleep with her! Then, on January 11 I found out that I have the Q-11 deletion mutation which means my cancer is somewhat more aggressive than those who do not have that particular mutation. That generally shortens life-spans.
- Now the good news: Those who have CLL and stay healthy often live fairly normal lives for 5 or 10 or even 15 years. Even with my mutation. This cancer is progressive. Short of a miracle (thank you for reminding our LORD of my situation and His purpose in my life), it will kill me eventually. But the variable factor is how long that takes. I am changing my work habits (no more than 40 hours a week) and trying to establish a regular schedule, which Sallie and I have never had. I also need to get far better about fitness, something I have always done, but the better my condition the better my chances for longevity. As for my soul, I am very good. I am securely in God’s hands—a great place to be. Sallie and I are cherishing every day together and my three kids are so supportive. DRCC—you have been great: kind and encouraging and extremely understanding. I am a very fortunate husband, dad and pastor.
Needless to say, this brings future planning—for me and my family—and for our church leadership into a new and sharper focus. If you are a member of Damascus Road Community Church, let me say a few very important things about us as the church you need to remember:
- This congregation has such a depth of shared leadership as well as such a breadth of shared, strong teaching that no outcome for me personally will in any way hinder or jeopardize the health and stability of DRCC’s ministries and extensive missions. By God’s grace we are a strong congregation—centered around one Leader—and that Leader is Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16). That has been my dream since day one and that dreamed is shared by so many now.
- For over two years I have discussed with a group of senior leaders a long-term succession plan for my role as Senior Pastor, and whatever happens, we will not be taken by surprise. And God cannot be. So have no worries there, as you know, there is such a depth in our leadership.
- Our Elders comprise a strong, unified body of senior leadership guarding the unity and theological integrity we all cherish in the 24 year run of Damascus Road as a community in Christ—leaning into God’s grace and wisdom they can handle any situation well.
- Our Staff is strong and unified, deep in maturity and vision and experience. Our scores of committed ministry teams include hundreds of volunteers with excellent volunteer leaders.
- Our Trustees have so faithfully and wisely stewarded our resources, we are very stable in terms of our finances and our facility and our staff compensation—all is well and carefully managed with high integrity.
- Our future plans as a congregation are exciting and God-honoring. They are—and will be—carried forward by a broad team of leaders.
- So rest in this—the best is yet to come! I am sure of it for each of us in Christ.