Caring for the ALS Community
Stephen Cornell, one of the first Care Partners to begin working with the ALS Family of Faith, has spent more than 40 years in his adult life as a chemical engineer, and as a pastor providing prayer and care support for those transitioning into end of life. He is an alumni of Northern Seminary, and it was through his alma mater that he first heard of the opportunity to use his unique skill set to serve people living with ALS, as well as their caregivers. He considers much of his life’s work as nonconventional and completely led by God, and this opportunity with the ALS Family of Faith has been nothing less.
Stephen was at a monk retreat when he received the email asking if he might be interested to serve as a Care Partner and he recalls that his response was an instant and emphatic “Yes!”
“After 3 near-death experiences, I was wrestling with God, crying out ‘You’re obviously not done with me. What is next? What do you have for me?’”, Stephen said. “When I received that request for help, it was an easy answer. I knew God had a plan.”
Each Care Partner receives training on the unique, and devastating, details that come with an ALS diagnosis. Because there is no cure, a diagnosis of this brutal disease is currently a death sentence.
“Only God and time can tell how long each patient has,” said Stephen. “When meeting with my ALS patients, our journey together is in their hands. I will meet with them however often they’d like, and for however long it pleases them. I go at their pace.”
Stephen has made life-long friends with his ALS patients and he wouldn’t want it any other way. “Knowing our time is limited has helped me to take a step back in my own life and go at a slower pace. It is so important to take time to build and treasure those special relationships with my spouse, family and friends.”
And while Stephen did not know it at the time, ALS would come to affect his family personally as he served in this new role. Shortly after he began working as a Care Partner, his own brother received an ALS diagnosis.
“This has allowed me to step back and be able to help my brother throughout his own journey battling ALS,” remarked Stephen.
“Being one of the first Care Partners to come alongside the ALS Family of Faith, I have to say I see God’s hand in every part of this program,” shared Stephen. “I couldn’t be more proud to say that I am a part of this community reaching ALS patients who need us the most.”
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