HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. – David Landrith, pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., and a member of a Southern Baptist advisory team on Calvinism, has been diagnosed with “an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer.”
Long Hollow’s executive team told church members about Landrith’s diagnosis in an email March 8.
“This news has certainly come as a shock to us all, but we can trust that David is in God’s hands as he’s always been,” the executive team said. “He believes what he preaches and has a strong faith. He wants us to be encouraged in our faith during this time as well.”
Landrith, 49, and his wife Jennifer have three children: Rachel, Sam and Josh. He has been pastor of Long Hollow, which now has more than 9,000 members, since 1997.
In a sermon at Long Hollow March 10, Landrith recounted the diagnosis and his reaction and pointed people to Psalm 90:12, which says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Landrith’s doctor shared a “very, very grim prognosis,” the pastor said in his sermon.
David and Jennifer Landrith
“He said there’s not much treatment for it other than to go back and do pretty extensive surgery, which it looks like I’ll have in a week and a half,” Landrith told the congregation. “He said it invariably will come back – the melanoma – somewhere else in your body. And he said that if you’re really fortunate, the statistics show that the far end survival rate is five years. Kind of the mean, or the median, is about 20 months. For some people it’s less.”
Once Landrith received the diagnosis and shared it with his wife, “That was a very difficult night for us,” he said. “I’m going to be straight up honest with you. We didn’t sleep. The next day was difficult. As we kind of made it through the day, we found ourselves just sitting there staring at the wall.”
What concerns him most, Landrith said, is not being present with his family in the future.
“As I thought about what was going on, though, it really came to me again that I have preached the gospel of Jesus Christ now for 25 years and I have shared with people this world is not our home, we’re not going to be here forever, we’re going to have this beautiful experience of living with the Lord forever and ever in eternity, and I just said, ‘You know what? I’ve got to hold on to all of those things that I know are true and that I’ve shared with others for so many years,’“ Landrith said.
With an upbeat and hopeful tone, the pastor said, “I’m going to pray, I’m going to fight, I’m not going to give up, I’m going to seek all the medical help we can find, but more than anything else I want to bring glory to Jesus as I walk through this, and I would ask your prayers for me as I go through it.”
A graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Landrith spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors’ Conference in 2010.
SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page added Landrith to his Calvinism advisory team last fall to help develop a strategy “whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism.”
Landrith had emergency surgery March 1 to remove a spot that concerned his doctor, and a biopsy revealed the cancer. He is pursuing all available treatment options, the executive team told the church.
“For years, David has led us to trust God in every circumstance,” Lance Taylor, Long Hollow’s executive pastor, said. “The way he is handling the news has already proven to be inspiring. I know God will use him to teach us about faithfulness. David wants nothing but God’s glory to be made known through whatever happens.”
For updates and to send Landrith a comment or post a prayer, the executive team referred people to the church’s website, longhollow.com, and Facebook page, facebook.com/longhollow. Personal notes of encouragement may be sent to [email protected].
“Please pray for healing and comfort, and that he and his family will experience peace during this time,” the executive team said. “Also pray that God will reveal His purpose and plan for all of us during this trial.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press.)