January 15, 2017
In October, we as a church prayed for Buddy and Jody Hoffman, the couple who originally planted the first Grace Fellowship Church in a daycare in Tucker in 1983. We were praying for an upcoming procedure that would relieve pain from a ruptured, bulging disc in Buddy’s back. For most people, an epidural steroid injection to relieve pain is a straightforward procedure. But for Buddy, it was far more complex because he is only four years removed from a catastrophic aortic dissection that should have been fatal but—because of a miracle of God—he lived.
Thankfully, that steroid injection went well. But even though that procedure went well, his health continued to be a challenge, and he has been in significant pain these last three months. This week Thursday, he was with us for an All-Campus All-Staff meeting with staff leaders from all seven Grace campuses, and in spite of his discomfort, he shared incredibly meaningful words of encouragement with us all. But later that evening, he was feeling poorly, so he returned to St. Joseph’s hospital. There, he underwent a number of tests, and the doctors finally ascertained that his pain and difficulties are due to an aneurysm in his aorta. Also, they have found an infection around the aneurysm in his aorta that is expected to be terminal. The doctors have released him from the hospital into home hospice care. Right now, the Hoffman Family asks that you not visit during this initial time as they get settled at home. They would, of course, very much appreciate your prayers. Also, if you would like to reach out to Buddy and Jody and the family, we invite you to:
- Post a note or a video to his Buddy Hoffman Facebook Profile—they love to hear stories about how their lives have impacted others
- Send them an email at
- Drop off any written letters at the front desk
We are aware that this is difficult news to hear about a man who has seemed rather indestructible all of his life. But when he shared in our staff meeting this Thursday, he seemed to be aware that his physical body was nearing the end of its term, and he said:
Within the last 1,000 days I have encountered eternity, and it is absolutely glorious. But right now, it would seem that I am terminal. Four months ago, my disc ruptured, and it is difficult and debilitating. In the attempt to fix the disc, they pricked my larynx, and now I speak like the Godfather.
In this season, God has opened doors even though I speak like the Godfather and even though I am in pain and even though what I have, they say, is terminal. Grace Marietta and Grace New Hope have been planted, and both of those campuses have begun to flourish. It’s amazing to me. And I really believe that one of the major reasons they have grown and they are flourishing is because God wants to show that the work that he does is not of man, it is of God.
The blessing and favor of God is upon Grace and its family, and what we see and what is happening is not of us, it is not even just we, it is of God. And as long as we blend together with the work of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing that cannot happen. Nothing!
The kingdom is bigger than any momentary pain. Distractions come and go, but the bigger issues of the heart are what we can never afford to overlook. Love well, cover one another in grace for the sake of the Kingdom. Don’t let a bulge in a relationship suck you away from the greater story, nor the rupture of your plans take your eye off the prize. It is a temporary pain; it is not going to kill you. But ignore your heart and relationship with God, and it will kill us and it will kill others.
We are not looking back saying, “Oh, wow, those were the really good days.” No. Sometimes those days weren’t that good, and they were really hard. But we trusted God for them, and we looked with faith that God is going to do so much more in the future, in the days ahead that it will make what God has done in the past look like small letters.