I’ve got more pictures, more personal reflection, and even a challenge or two I want to throw out there to you before this day is over. But, first, I want to share with you this thing that’s killing me right now….

Amid all the excitement and energy and enthusiasm of this week, all the hustle and bustle, all the ceremonies and dedications, all the special bulletins and articles, all the planning, all the people, all the anticipation, I’m devastated by news I received early this morning. David Hunter, the preacher at the Robinson Church of Christ just south of Waco, is walking through a dark, dark valley right now.

David is in our group of ten preachers who meet once a month down in Waco at the Crestview church. Around here I refer to our group as the “Waco Alliance.” We spend that day every month praying together, studying the Word together, and sharing with each other the ups and downs of life as congregational preachers. David’s one of these guys with a sly, dry sense of humor. Almost every single thing out of his mouth is funny. You just have to be paying close attention to get it. Always upbeat. Always positive. He’s preached longer than any of us in the room. And he’s seen more and experienced more than any of us. And he never has a negative word to say. About anything. We all share the normal frustrations that come with being preachers. People. Attitudes. Roadblocks. Politics. And every time we come to David, he tells us he doesn’t have anything bad or negative going on his life. No struggles. No confusion. No problems. Of course, he makes the occasional joke about an elders’ meeting—that’s a requirement. But he always seems almost embarrassed to admit to us that his life is great, everybody’s healthy, everybody’s good, everything’s wonderful, and God is blessing him abundantly. He has a beautiful wife. Outstanding son at Pepperdine. Wonderful daughter beginning her freshman year at ACU. Perfect.

I’ve always believed his attitude comes from his time in the Word and in the Church. He sees the big picture, maybe, better than anybody else in the room. He’s able to step back and survey the landscape and see our God forgiving sins and saving souls and robbing hell. Instead of the mess that sometimes clouds my vision, all he sees is God healing people and restoring people and using people to redeem the world. I’ve come away from every meeting of the Waco Alliance wishing David were closer than two hours away. 

His wife, Denise, suffered a major stroke late Wednesday night. She’s 48. She’s thin. She’s in great shape. She runs two miles a day. There’s no history of this anywhere in her family. But she’s in trouble. The news yesterday was bad. Lots of brain issues. Parts of the left side of her brain are dead. Other parts have experienced damage. Significant swelling everywhere. She’s still unconscious and unresponsive. The neurologist told David yesterday Denise would have “significant impairment for the rest of her life.” Last night David acknowledged to us that, regardless of the outcome, there was a long, long road ahead. He was optimistic that most of the swelling would go down this weekend and most of her brain would resume its normal activity.

It got a lot worse overnight. David was in the middle of an email this morning, trying to update all of us at once, and the email abruptly ended this way: “…I have to stop for now. Just got a call from the neurologist…it’s not good. She’s taken a turn for the worse, her swelling increased during the night and they are putting her on a ventilator.” 

I just got off the phone with Jim Martin, the preacher at the Crestview church who put our little group together. It’s not good. David’s asking that we pray. I’ve been praying for David and Denise and their kids since yesterday. Please join me in lifting this great family up to our loving Father.

In our Oasis class here Wednesday night we talked about how, in the middle of all the excitement and optimism and enthusiasm of our new building and all the activities that go with it, we are still surrounded by people who are hurting. People who are in a very, very dark place. People maybe right next to us. My friend David is there. Please pray for them.

“Hear my prayer, O Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
In the day of my trouble I will call to you,
for you will answer me. ~Psalm 86:6-7