Helping a friend find a cure

Michelle Hall brings me hope. As far as I’m concerned, she is a conduit for joy. Michelle is a leader in the church I pastor. When it comes to service, she sets the example.

Michelle has the annoying habit of making hard work look fun. She takes genuine pleasure in serving others with sincere compassion and heartfelt conviction.

When working alongside Michelle, it is difficult to grumble. She’ll use your grumbles against you, to make you smile or feel silly for being far too serious. Michelle doesn’t motivate you with a scornful glare, she lifts you up with a gracious laugh.

Not only does she make the work seem easy, she makes you want to join in on the adventure. When Michelle works hard for the Lord, it looks more like dance and less like drudgery.

Most importantly, she laughs at all of my jokes. Even when they are not funny. This must be difficult for Michelle, since I am frequently not funny. Many times I’ve heard her lone cackle in the middle of one of my lesser praised sermons. At least Michelle got it.

Michelle fits the clichés. She’s a great mom, a devoted wife and a good friend. Until recently, she’s been our children’s ministry coordinator. The children of Evergreen Church love Michelle. Michelle doesn’t just teach lessons, she loves kids. You cannot counterfeit love. Consequently, Michelle is deeply loved by the Evergreen Church family.

It is out of this sincere love that I share the following request. We need your help. I need your help. Our dear friend, my dear friend has been diagnosed with a terrible disease. Michelle Hall has ALS.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects brain and spinal cord motor neurons. Motor neurons help with voluntary movement and muscle power. For example, if I want to speak, motor neurons relay that desire from my brain to the muscles needed for speech. The end result is I open my mouth and words come out.

ALS attacks and destroys these message relaying motor neurons. As the motor neurons fail, the brain becomes unable to send the information necessary for voluntary muscle movement. As a result, individuals with ALS progressively lose their ability to initiate and control muscle movement. All voluntary movement is affected … the ability to walk, talk, hug or simply move.

There currently is no cure for ALS and no way of knowing the rate of its progression. As I’ve told Michelle, I’m praying for her healing, or at least that she finds herself in that category of people who live far longer and far better than anyone could ever have imagined.

Even so, I’ve been reluctant to embrace the reality of her diagnosis. I still have fanciful thoughts this is all just a terrible misunderstanding. If I had my way, I would most likely pretend this wasn’t happening.

Thankfully, Michelle is not following my lead. Instead, she is embracing the task at hand. Rather than avoiding reality, she is confronting ALS with boldness, faith, determination, and her indomitable sense of humor. Instead of wasting the days in fear and self pity, Michelle is pressing forward to raise ALS awareness and find a cure. Michelle is leading the charge and we are following.

With this in mind, I want to call in a favor. I’m asking anyone who enjoys my column (or hates it for that matter) to join me in raising money to find a cure for ALS. On Sept. 20, Michelle and her friends are hosting a silent auction at the Evergreen Community Center. I would love for you to attend this important event and meet Michelle and her family. Lately, her speech is a bit slurred, but she is still very much on the move. If you cannot come to the auction, please e-mail me and I’ll forward you information on how to donate to this or other ALS events.

ALS certainly is not the only disease issue worthy of your donation. Even so, it is the disease our church is trying to face head on. We are compelled to do something because our sister Michelle is in need. I prayerfully ask that you join us in our attempt to find a cure and bless a friend.

The Defeat ALS Silent Auction will be held

Sept. 20 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Evergreen Community Center, located at 4910 A Street SE, Auburn. For more information please call Donna at 253-854-2965.

Doug Bursch is the pastor of Evergreen Foursquare Church. Evergreen meets Sundays at 10 a.m. at the Riverside High School Theater. He can be reached at or