I took my dispatch seriously, so for several weeks I visited this church and that in an effort to locate a good fit. It was a challenging task because I knew Terry would quickly nix any connection that didn't feel right to him. That limited many, if not most of the possibilities.
Then, just ahead of Christmas that year came a knock at our front door. I heard Terry open the door, and then the muffled sounds of dialogue before I heard him shut the door.
As he returned to the kitchen, I could see that he was holding something: a lunch sack bedazzled with holiday festoons. He handed me the bag, and quickly announced: This is our new church.
Seems our neighbors had set upon a mission of their own to provide Christmas cookies to the entire neighborhood, along with an invitation to church services. Any church with a Cookie Evangelism Program ranked high on Terry's "feel right" scale.
The rest is history ...
Over the course of our ten year Arizona sojourn, we deeply rooted ourselves in Palm Valley Church, watching it grow from some 150 people in early 2001 to over 4,000 when we left last year. We knit ourselves into several Home Teams (or Small Groups) in the intervening years, but I believe our richest Arizona treasure resided in the young couple that launched and pastored the church. Greg and Lori became fast friends early on; and more than friends. Many an event, many a Sunday dinner, many a shared holiday and even vacations we came to know and to love them as family, even as we watched their family of four expand to six when children were added to their numbers.
In recent months Greg has endured test after test as doctors attempted to understand some strange symptoms in his body. A few weeks ago they finally reached a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease - - no pleasant thing, for sure, but far better than the many other possibilities they considered.
Even so, other symptoms warranted other tests, and just ahead of Easter Greg was informed that he has a Parkinson's-like disease that is far more lethal. Multiple System Atrophy is terminal. Worse, the disease entails a shutting down of the nervous system. Slowly Greg will go from robust & mobile, to bedridden. The process could span a mere two years, or take as long as nine.
I know you can imagine the implications of this; the heartache already being born by Greg's beloved wife Lori, his four children - Jake/14, Zach/12, Josh/10 and Brooke/5 - their extended family, the church at Palm Valley, and a collection of friends that span the globe.
Some of you are already praying for Greg and his family. Thank you. I now ask others to join that initiative as we hold out for a miracle. But know this: Greg is a noble man that has made noble plans, and by many a noble deed he stands (Isaiah 32:8); and he will continue to stand.
Greg's own testimony begins and ends in a life-verse he chose for himself long ago, and that he lives out so nobly today. How could he have known that a sufficiency of courage would be woven into it with tears?
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage so that now as always
Christ will be exalted in my body,
whether by life or by death.
For to me, to live is Christ
and to die is gain.
Please keep this precious family in your prayers. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.