SOS Dave Page

Dave Page is a church planter, coach and currently the Director of Church Planting for the Evangelical Free Church of America – West District.


Have you ever had one of those moments that you wish you could just freeze in time?  As I pulled my car into our driveway I could hear my daughter’s scream that echoed through the neighborhood, “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” I looked up to see my five year old daughter Jackie bounding down the stairs to greet me. I caught her as she jumped into my arms and kissed her little head, never realizing what a cherished memory this moment would become.

Jackie, who could light up any room with her smile, was now having unusual symptoms that a battery of tests could not explain, until an MRI revealed an inoperable brain tumor that only left her two months to live. She died in my arms six weeks later, but the shock lasted long after.

Words cannot express the pain and sorrow of losing my daughter. Anger, doubt, confusion, depression, sadness, and grief merely scratch the surface. Long and excruciating days followed as I entered the dark night of the soul. I begged God to take my life instead of hers. I wanted to quit ministry, quit marriage, and quit life.

I have no formulas or clever advice to help you cope with your loss, but I have learned some valuable lessons on this daily journey of grief.

God is faithful. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” As pastors we go into the ministry to give to others. I had to learn to receive, as I had nothing left to give. Our family and friends surrounded us with love as we leaned on others that had gone through similar losses. Our church was the church in the best possible sense.

Most couples that lose a child end up divorcing. Although our marriage relationship was shaken to the core, we stayed together and have grown deeper in love. We just celebrated our 25th anniversary a couple months ago in Hawaii! God continues to heal our kids, and they have not only survived but thrived.

No one is immune to suffering. I thought that since I had set my life apart to serve the Lord as a minister, this wasn’t supposed to happen to me. However, it also taught me that no one is immune to healing, either. Many people ask, “Why me?” I’ve learned to ask, “Why not me?” What matters is how you respond. It’s not what happens to us that matters as much as what happens in us.

God uses suffering to refine us. A.W. Tozer said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.” Jesus said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24). I was pastoring a very fast growing church and had become arrogant, selfish, and impatient. I realigned my life so that my priorities, focus and passions were redirected toward him alone. It’s been a long process, but I’ve become not only a better leader but also a better person.

I remained in ministry and stayed at the church I had planted for 6 more years that grew to 1500 people. Then I started another church, and now have the greatest job in the world coaching church planters full-time as Director of Church Planting for a major denomination. I’ve helped start about 30 churches in the last 5 years.

So hang in there and don’t quit; trust God to bring good out of your loss or tragedy. And don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t recover certain types of losses. God can heal you from anything and what doesn’t kill you makes your stronger! The good news is life can be good again, never the same, but really good again!

Lastly, Heaven became more real to me than ever before. King David after losing his infant son said, “He will not return to me but I will go to him.” I know that I will see Jackie again. People ask me how many kids I have; I always say three – two on earth and one in Heaven! My daughter Jessica recently wrote a poem about Jackie called “Heaven.”


Daddy, what’s wrong with me?
My head hurts so bad.
You take me to the doctor’s and tell me that I’m sick.
Why do you and Mommy look so sad?

 I don’t want any more radiation, Daddy.
Please get me out of this place.
I want to talk to you but my mouth won’t move.
All I can do is watch your crying face.

Daddy, I can laugh and smile again!
Guess who I can see?
Jesus is calling me towards Heaven;
You always said it is such a great place to be.

Daddy, I’m getting closer now.
I’m walking through big golden gates.
Stop crying for me Daddy cause I will see you again.
And I will be happy up here as I wait.

We’ll continue the Sifted conversation this spring at Exponential 2012.

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