Healing in God's Time
When award-winning gospel music songwriter Dave Clark awoke one morning with what he thought was a sore throat, little did he or his family suspect that it was the beginning of a 19-year battle with a painful disease known as...
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When award-winning gospel music songwriter Dave Clark awoke one morning with what he thought was a sore throat, little did he or his family suspect that it was the beginning of a 19-year battle with a painful disease known as apthous stomatitis�a condition that 29 doctors at the famed Mayo Clinic said was incurable. But they didn�t know Dave�s God.
Nor did they know Dave�s dream and his calling to be a gospel songwriter. Leaving his Michigan home at the age of 17, he made his way alone to Nashville, Tennessee, where he found a job assembling bicycles, while pitching his songs to publishers.
Becoming acquainted with Brian Speer of the well-known Speer Family led to a rewarding and enjoyable five years with the singing group. But that didn�t satisfy the longing of Dave�s heart�to be a songwriter.
So, even though his disease was at its most painful, he resigned and set out on his own. In the years that followed, Dave earned a reputation as a special songwriter with his songs hitting #1 on the Christian music charts 25 times!
His debilitating disease continued, however and his family worried for his very life. Yet God was actually at work through a multitude of circumstances and healing finally came in a miraculous way.
Read this wonderful story about the faithfulness of God that keeps Dave disease-free today, enabling him to write music to help others who are hurting, such as �Crucified With Christ�, �Why� and Mercy Said No.� This book will be an encouragement to all who are seeking God's healing touch.
(Dave Clark's inspiring songs have been recorded by well known artists in the Christian music industry including: Sandi Patty, Larnelle Harris, Point of Grace, Phillips, Craig & Dean, 4Him and Glen Campbell.)
Donna Clark Goodrich is the author of nineteen books and over 700 short stories and articles published to date. She now teaches at Christian writers conferences across the United States. Donna and her husband, Gary, have three children and two granddaughters. Donna began the annual Arizona Christian Writers Seminar in 1981, which she led for seven years.
:Every doctor Dave's parents took him to diagnosed the illness differently. An eye, ear, nose, and throat doctor had one name for it; a dermatologist diagnosed it as something else. "All of which was totally irrelevant," Dave says, "since none of them could do anything about it. They just kept saying, 'Well, here's what we think it is, but you're going to have to go see...' and they'd refer me to another specialist."
The hardest part for Dave was the eating?which obviously makes up a large part of a teen's social life. He could handle the pain, but he disliked making others feel uncomfortable. He knew they weren't enjoying their meal because they knew he wasn't enjoying his. Thus he found himself spending more time alone, except for family and close friends who knew of his illness.
People who didn't know Dave well were unaware of his problem as he seldom talked about it. But his parents shared his pain every day, along with his three sisters Sharon, Marlene, and Brenda. The four children had been raised in a family in which music played an important part. Their grandma?their father's mother?was a woman who never needed a hymnal as she knew all the words to the old songs. Her love for music had been passed on to her children and, ultimately, to her grandchildren.
Dave and his sisters had been taught to sing four-part harmony at an early age. Before they reached their teen years, they formed the Clark Family singing group with their father Orville playing the piano. On week-ends, they would pile into the Suburban and travel across Michigan singing in various churches.
During this time, the children were able to make a record through the generosity of a man their father worked with. Walt had been an alcoholic for years, but through Orville's witnessing, he became a Christian. Because of his love for southern gospel music, Orville and the children would often go to his house and sing for him.
One time after hearing the children sing, Walt said, "I want the kids to make a record. Find out how much it is." Orville went to a music shop and priced what it would cost. "About $1300," he was told. When Walt learned the amount, he told the family to go ahead with the project. He said he owed it to the children and wanted to express how he felt.
From these early days a dream began to grow in Dave's heart: he wanted to write music and sing for the Lord. "It didn't take long to see that my big brother was a unique individual and his ultimate goal differed slightly from the rest of us," Brenda recalls. "He had a sense of urgency where his music was concerned."
It was also in these early days of singing and traveling, however, that the throat condition developed. His father remembers taking them places to sing when "it was so bad, he couldn't even talk, but he seemed to be able to sing."
It was hard on the whole family. "We watched him sit at the dinner table each night and struggle to swallow even the smallest bits of food," Marlene says. "His whole body would tremble from the pain of swallowing, and he would slide down in his chair."
One day during her lunch hour Louise came home from her job as a school secretary and, in frustration, called the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She stayed on the phone until she was able to get an appointment for Dave. The first appointment was on a Tuesday. Dave and his parents drove over 500 miles to Rochester, back to Michigan, and then returned to Mayo on Friday the same week to be seen again. That was the first of many visits there, and the first time the family realized how rare the severity of the illness was.
At the clinic, the thirty or so doctors who examined Dave said they knew what it was (the medical term was aphthous stomatitis), but said it was the worst case they had ever seen. The miracle of all this was, the doctors said it looked like the esophagus had completely rotted away?except for the voice box, and that wasn't even touched.
They did some blood work, put Dave on a steroid, and sent him home. But the steroids didn't help.
No matter what hospital Dave went to, the head of each department was immediately drawn into the case. One doctor told them it was cancer.
Nobody would ever really tell the family "We don't know." Instead they'd say, "Well, here's what we think it is, but we can't be sure." They'd suggest something and it might work for two or three months. The family would get their hopes up, only to have the sores return.
Everyone wanted to help. Friends knew someone who had had something similar and they would pass on what worked for them. Finally Dave said, "What's the use? I'm just going to live with it."
One bright spot during his teen years occurred when Dave and his older sister Sharon were both selected by the Michigan District of the Church of the Nazarene to attend an international youth institute in Switzerland. It was unusual for two teens to be selected from the same church, rarer yet two from the same family. All four of the children, however, were known throughout the district not only for their singing, but through their participation in Bible quizzes and talent contests.
Those selected had to go through a tough qualification. The fellow who was selected as first alternate later told Dave that he still remembers showing up that morning with a suitcase because he didn't think Dave would be physically able to go.
Dave was pretty weak on that trip. When he arrived in Switzerland, there wasn't a lot he could eat, so every day he would go to a little grocery store and get an apple and a Coke. That was what he lived on for that week. "But it never crossed my mind not to go," Dave says. "That was something that I had worked and saved for. If I had let that determine the course of things, I wouldn't get anywhere in life."
Dave is very thankful for his Christian heritage. He's a fourth-generation Nazarene. "When we were growing up," he says, "if the church doors were open, we were there. It wasn't a choice on our part; it wasn't an option that we had. My parents didn't send us to church, they took us, and they didn't tell us about a Christian lifestyle; they lived it in front of us."
In spite of the family's strong faith, Dave's dad said he often found himself wondering why his son had to go through what he did. "He came to such low times that I thought, 'Surely we're going to lose him.'"
In the days to come, however, it was clear the Lord had a plan for Dave's life.....