Pastor John Drage

Pastor John Drage with his dogs, Charmander and Daisy.

As the stream of COVID-19 news continues, maybe the best thing to do is to take a few words of advice from someone who’s well versed in facing the discomfort of uncertainty.

John Drage, a pastor at The Rock, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer early last year. He’s been using a blog to stay connected with his congregation long before the new virus, but most recently, he’s used it to communicate a simple message in light of the stressful times:

“Breathe.”

Drage has now been diagnosed with viral pneumonia and COVID-19, the pandemic that is causing a medical crisis and severe economic disruption.

“I am out of the hospital and back home with my family. We are fighting!” he posted on his website, called John’s Story: Living with Brain Cancer.

Drage said he’s had a relationship with Jesus for nearly four decades and that his belief in a power greater than himself has shaped his ability to get through difficult times. But nonreligious people may be able to learn a thing or two from Drage’s experience with uncertainty.

“We want some control. We want to know something,” he said.

“I’m not in control right now. I could be weeks away from dying,” Drage said. “I’m not afraid at all.”

On his website, the first sentence of Drage’s bio reads, “I am an intense guy!”

Drage founded The Rock, a campus-based ministry, in 2001, and has been a pastor there since.

“I don’t want to stop preaching and loving people,” he said. “I’m gonna do that until I can’t talk anymore.”

The Rock livestreamed its most recent Sunday service on Facebook Live, according to the church’s website.

Despite his battle with cancer, Drage described the past year of his life as both the most horrible and the greatest.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been taken out to eat in the last year,” he said. “That’s my love language.”

Drage emphasized the importance of finding ways to connect, even while practicing social distancing.

“We were made for love,” he said.

And maybe Drage isn’t the only one to learn from when it comes to connecting. Drage said that sometimes his two dogs, Charmander and Daisy, have a better grasp of community than some people do.

“When we separate ourselves from the pack, well, how hard is that?” he said. “We need each other.”

For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.
  • Public health and safety reporter, spring 2020. Studying news reporting. Reach me at cgiffin@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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