James MacDonald Has Cancer

Pastor James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Fellowship announced today that he has cancer. Some of you may be familiar with Pastor MacDonald from his books or through his radio ministry Walk in the Word. Here is part of what he had to say today in his announcement:

I have cancer. This of course confirms what I have taught so many times from God’s word . . . the effects of sin visit themselves randomly upon the creation in varying degrees and at various times (John 9:1-3). God promises only that His grace will be sufficient as His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10), and that He has a purpose in the life of His child that will advance our good if we submit to what He has lovingly allowed (Hebrews 12:5-13).

So that’s it! I have cancer and I can diagnose the theology as well as any oncologist can diagnose the pathology. But here’s the great part. I truly believe those things. I am not especially anxious, I am not struggling with God’s goodness or asking a lot of penetrating ‘why’s?’ I am more aware of my pending mortality and the brevity of this life by eternal standards …

I have a tenderness to the pain of others and a deeper burden for those closest to me. I am more acutely aware of my sin and much less willing to weigh it or measure it or manage it. I just want to be clean and close and consecrated in my walk with Christ; and I am, more than ever. Truly!!! And for that I am very thankful. I have experienced an outpouring of love from our congregation and beyond that has made me more appreciative than ever to pastor a church and belong to the body of Christ. God is good, I’m gonna get through this in God’s way and in His time and I love Him more than ever. Today is a good day, and because of it, no matter how this ‘day’ ends, tomorrow will be even better. Isn’t it great to know the Lord and love His word and walk in fellowship with His followers? How blessed I am!

Please keep Pastor macDonald and his family in prayer as he begins radiation treatments at the Loma Linda University Medical Center in Southern California.


  1. john says:

    THIS GUY HAS IT RIGHT – Taken from James’ blog…
    My dear friend. Perhaps this life experience is not meant for you once again to take the stage. In your congregation on any given Sunday sit thousands of afflicted souls. They suffer in silence. They are not being treated by the best doctors in the world. They don’t have jobs that allow them to take months in California to get the treatment their insurance won’t pay for. More importantly, many of them will not get better. Many will die. They don’t have book deals waiting for them on the other side of their recovery on how God healed their cancer.

    James, I love you, but you don’t understand. You have drunk so deeply from the cup of your fame that your life doesn’t matter to you unless it is on public display.

    Go away. Be silent. Find a place with God. Come back later having touched God.

    Don’t disrespect all those who must find meaning in their private afflictions. You will never understand them.”

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    John – I checked on James’ blog for this letter and couldn’t find it. Do you have a link? The letter seems judgmental to me. The author seems to be claiming that he knows Pastor MacDonalds’ motivations in going public with this. I don’t feel comfortable with that.

  3. Sharon Gamble says:

    One of the greatest goods that come out of personal pain, is the ability God gives us to “comfort others with the comfort we have been given”. I am thankful for these words from this dear man. Perhaps it is a help to him, too, to know that what he is going through can also be a source of help for others. He has been given an extrovert’s personality and therefore is blessed and energized by sharing. God gave him the gift of teaching, if he is a pastor, and he is exercising his gift. How sad that this other person feels differently. Each person grieves and copes in their own way. May God bless the person who wrote that letter as they hurt, and give them strength and peace for their ordeal.

  4. Ray Fowler says:

    Sharon – Thanks for that. Your response is much more understanding than mine. Thanks for catching the hurt in the other person’s letter. Looking back at my response, it looks a little harsh, and perhaps, judgmental?

  5. Jeff Hawkins says:

    I am a pastor and I have personally met James MacDonald. He took special time out for my son when he was 6 years old and visited the church. He is the real deal and a Godly man. He is working for the fame of God’s name not his own. I was very disappointed with the writer named “John” who was very judgmental and unkind in his statements. Most pastors like James MacDonald face incredible spiritual warfare because of their influence. We need to do all that we can do to encourage people in the Lord and not tear them down. John I hope that you will take that to heart.

  6. Ray Fowler says:

    Jeff – Thank you for sharing your personal experience with James. That is the way he has always struck me. Now let’s all pray for the man!

  7. Leah says:


  8. Ray Fowler says:

    Leah – Thanks for adding your words of support for James at this time.

  9. Jim says:

    The above statements from “John” are without question right on the mark. You professional Christians need to stop protecting each other. Just because one pastor is the leader of a huge church doesn’t mean too much. My Bible teaches that those who love to be the leader or simply are the leader of any church are going against the teaching of Paul and the other apostles. Peter was nothing more than an elder.

    I can tell you about some things I know concerning Pastor McDonald. He lives in a very nice and secure home purchased for $1.9 million, is accompanied by a bodyguard inside the church, drives an expensive vehicle, and now at great expense flew off to get the finest treatment for his condition that money can buy. This is a man who claims to follow Christ and the examples of the apostles ?? James McDonald isn’t unlike so many of the elite Christian professional world. In their hearts they just love to be leaders. If you attend pretty much any church you are attending nothing but a show meant to entertain you. So many of the afflicted do sit in silence and wonder why those that “got it” get answers while they never do.

    Ray and Jeff, how could you even think that John’s letter was judgemental ? It was not. Face it – Senior Pastors and pastors who lead churches are unscriptual. In the early church elders were the rulers. Now, are my comments judgemental too ??

  10. Ray Fowler says:

    Jim – Thank you for sharing your view. Here are the statements in John’s comment that I thought came across as judgmental:

        • James, you don’t understand.
        • You have drunk deeply from the cup of your fame.
        • Your life doesn’t matter to you unless it is on public display.
        • You don’t respect those with private afflictions.
        • You will never understand them.

    As far as pastors and elders in the church, the word “pastor” is simply another word for “shepherd” and is specifically applied to elders in the Bible (e.g. Paul gather the elders from Ephesus and tells them to be shepherds of the church of God – Acts 20:28; Peter tells the elders to be shepherds of God’s flock – 1 Peter 5:1-2). A pastor is simply an elder who is responsible for teaching and leading the flock.

    So I’m not sure what you mean when you say “those who … are the leader of any church are going against the teaching of Paul and the other apostles.” That is what pastors and elders are supposed to do. They are called to be leaders of the church and are accountable to God for their leadership. (Hebrews 13:17) Of course, this is a very different type of leadership than we find in the world. The good pastor/elder/shepherd follows Jesus’ example and lays down his life for the sheep. It is a leadership based on love for God and loving service to God’s people. Good pastors spend a lot of time with the afflicted in the church — loving them, praying for them, comforting them.

    As far as James MacDonald, I don’t claim to know his motivations for ministry. But I have benefited from his teaching ministry and thought it would be good to let people know about his cancer so we could pray.

  11. Clifford B says:

    “Everything they do is for men to see” from Matt 23 says it all about Macdonald and church “leaders” for that matter.

    Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2″The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

    5″Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’

    8″But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.[b] 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

  12. Ray Fowler says:

    Clifford B – Thanks for pointing out an important Scripture. As a church leader myself, it is one that I need to constantly check my own motives against. Do I do ministry just to be seen, or do I do ministry because I love God and love people? I even need to check the motives of this blog. Do I blog here in order to be seen, or do I blog in order to bring glory to God and to be of help to other people? Sometimes I am on target and sometimes I am off base, and that’s when I need to go to God and confess. So thank you for reminding us all of this Scripture.

    At the same time, you seem to be painting with a very broad brush here. First you make the charge that everything MacDonald does is for men to see, but you don’t know the motivation of MacDonald’s heart. Then you go ahead and apply this verse to all church leaders as well! I would be careful about judging other people’s motives and focus on your own heart. I will use this verse to judge myself, but not others. Peace, Ray

  13. I see that I am writing many months after the revealing facts of James cancer and other very traumatic incidents in his life and that of his family. I am not a pastor but I am fairly well versed in the scriptures mainly because of my life in the church from the beginning (I am now 61) and also with consequence of the attending a seminary for 3-4 years. Now I am only understanding James’ history of materialistic belongings from what is said of this blog but I do not even think this matters. To me he is the one of the best teachers, preachers and motivational inspired by God and the Holy Spirit men that I have ever encountered. Having belongings would only be wrong, that is expensive things, if you made them your God and it took away from your ministry. It seems as God is blessing him and tons of other people as well so something is right. I am a Doctor as well with a great amount of knowledge in psychology and I can not find only honesty in what I here from James and his ministry and he is more than a man with many trials in life which he has blessed me and my wife with the series he just finished on “trials”. Finding fault with earthly possessions usely is a problem with someone who does not have and wants too much…and this is jealousy. I think a pastor that has grown a church into the multiple thousands is comparable to our president (USA) and would we deny our president of these earthly things(?) like seeking the countries best in cancer care is only a spineless arguement based on maybe the inability to afford those for him or herself (or possibly a relative that died because ?). These poeple will always surface and wealthy christian people will always take these blows but it comes right down to what I think these wealthy Christians beliefs are in the more you give the more you get; this is the James MacDonald that touches me and the book “When Life Is Hard” probably was not out for these people to read. I hope that because these post I have read and the date on them does not preclude mine from being visible…God bless the ministry of Walk In The Word and James at the helm..(oh Ray Fowler too)..

  14. Ray Fowler says:

    Douglas – Thank you for sharing your thoughts and perspective. And thanks for the blessings! Always appreciated.

  15. Cali says:

    Well said Douglas!!

  16. sean says:

    so it’s now 2010, is he cured?

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