February 7, 2019

Unshakeable Courage

A Grim Prognosis and a Congregation's Outpouring of Love

Just a week after his retirement and days before Christmas 2018, Hinsdale Church elder, Mel Palmer, got the news. He had Stage 4 stomach cancer, with just months to live, maybe a year. The diagnosis has been shocking, but not devastating to Mel and his wife, Cora.

“What’s so amazing about them is that they’re both holding up so well,” says Edye Campos, one of the Hinsdale Church pastors and Palmer’s friend. Despite a weakened state that keeps his voice barely above a whisper, Mel himself says his courage is “unshakeable.” When asked why, he immediately refers to the Creator of courage. “All I have to do is trust in the righteousness of Christ… That’s all I have to do to give me confidence,” explains Mel. And that confidence, he insists, is real whether death is around the corner or delayed. “He may very well allow my passing for my saving or the saving of others, and I’m okay with that,” says Mel. In fact, it seems God is already pulling back the veil.

In a recent trip to Jamaica (where a physician friend was providing a treatment plan based on natural remedies), Mel stayed with old family friends. Mel says they had stopped going to church, but started back up again while he was there. Mel thinks it may be because of his faithful witness during this difficult time. “Let me make clear,” he interjects, “it’s not me — I’m all filthy rags. I’m trusting in His righteousness.”

That humble spirit plus he and his wife’s moving music ministry is what makes them “dearly beloved” back in the States, too, says Pastor Campos. Soon after the Palmers’ church family learned of the diagnosis, they jumped into action. Pastor Campos and another church leader started a GoFundMe page (an online fundraising platform), primarily for Cora, while Mel would be away in Jamaica. She does not drive and would be depending on public transportation to get around. The funds also would go toward the couple’s groceries and medical care. In just two hours, Pastor Campos’ set goal of $2,000 had been reached. “So I raised it to $3,000 … then $4,000 … then $5,000.” Each time, said Campos, the money streamed in. At last check, 51 people have chipped in to provide the couple with more than $6,100 in just 29 days. Mel admits he and Cora are overwhelmed by the generosity, but incredibly grateful.


Complications have set in. Mel was not able to finish his naturopathic treatment plan in Jamaica, as an intestinal blockage was discovered. He was rushed back to the Chicago area for emergency surgery just this week. Pastor Campos reports the surgery was at least initially successful and Mel has been cleared for a liquid diet.

In his raspy, yet powerful voice, Mel promises he will “not beg [to be healed], like King Hezekiah.” But there’s no doubt — his family and friends are praying for a miracle.


photo caption: A recent anointing service drew a group larger than expected. The ceremony was changed from a back room to the sanctuary.