When Calvary Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan, called Ed Dobson as their pastor 14 years ago, they welcomed a man whose bold nature and strong opinions had already sparked controversy nationwide. Ed was a leader in the Moral Majority and an associate of Jerry Falwell. When he came to Calvary, the church began launching ministries that defied stereotype and convention—across racial lines, to AIDS patients, and to the homeless.
Today Calvary Church has grown in size and influence. They recently released nearly a thousand members to help plant Mars Hill, a church for those disillusioned with the typical Sunday morning meeting house.
Calvary Church is going strong. But its pastor is growing weaker.
Ten months ago Ed was waiting on a diagnosis. Symptoms of something ominous were growing worse. The doctors couldn't be absolutely sure, but they determined Ed most likely was suffering from Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The neuro-muscular disease is a debilitating, degenerating condition with no known cure and only one known outcome—death.
Today, Ed is still waiting—Ed and his family and his church. Though his condition has stabilized and he maintains the strength to do ministry, Ed's health could begin deteriorating again at any time.
Leadership editors Marshall Shelley, Eric Reed, and Drew Zahn traveled to Grand Rapids to probe the prayer life of a man and a church walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
What happens to your prayer life when you're diagnosed with a terminal disease?
When the doctors said they were 99 percent sure I had ALS, I began realizing I might have only a couple of months to a couple of years left, and most of that time would likely be miserable ...