The Death of a Friend

Mars Hill Bellevue

As you may know, there has been a LOT in the news lately about Mars Hill Church. Mars Hill was Jason's and my church home for 7 years; we started attending just 2 months after we got married. We were "all in" and she (being the church) was the only constant through many changes in our lives. Jobs and homes and relationships and family messes all ebbed and flowed but Mars Hill--attending on Sundays, community group on Tuesdays, serving and leading and doing life with our friends and community group--was the only constant other than one another. 

I have wanted to write about our experience and all that we are going through. It has been A LOT. Some of it relates to my last post--suffocated by fear of saying the wrong thing. Other parts are, I think, wisdom--I don't want to carelessly run my mouth, or throw out to the world every thought that runs through my head. I want to be legitimately helpful, marked by--I hope--a certain amount of grace and maturity given to me by Christ.

Nonetheless, I have intentionally stayed away from this space. I'm not quite ready to say details about our experience, or add my thoughts to the internet fodder; maybe I never will be. I can talk about all the beautiful ways I learned and grew; the ugly ways my sin made me willfully blind to the yuck of Mars Hill; the utter frustration and helplessness I feel as I watch people I love and adore just get crushed and maimed by the Mars Hill machine through this mess. 

But today I need to tell you about a tragedy. 

I am watching a dear friend willfully kill herself.

You see, I have been incredibly angry about the situation at Mars Hill, yearning for repentance and so frustrated by the refusal to do so. But now, I think a mourning is setting in. I feel like I have a friend, one who has been beautiful and wonderful to me in so many ways. Yes, she is a sinner, but our relationship has weathered each of our sinful natures and really seemed to be quite solid and beautiful, centered on Jesus.

But now, she has cut me off for dead. You see, she is dying of cancer, a vicious cancer that has metastasized into every bone and vital organ and the disease is all throughout her body. You can no longer even decipher the healthy from the dying cells. It's horrible as I watch her deteriorate from healthy and vibrant to decrepit shell.  She's simply rotting away in front of me.

But it gets worse: she refuses to see it, defies the very idea of even needing  treatment. She admits she's a little off but it's just a case of the sniffles. Just trust her--a little rest and some restructuring of her life will make it all better. 

Worst of all, in her refusal to see, she's cutting me and everyone else off for telling her she's dying, that this cancer is KILLING her.

[For more information about what is happening at Mars Hill, there is a LOT. But I recommend you read this letter from 9 men who were, at its writing, elders at Mars Hill. The ones I know in this letter are men I trust without hesitation; because of the horribly dark culture behind the scenes right now I still commend their writing this letter among the bravest things I have seen at Mars Hill. With this I recommend this letter; Dustin is a man my husband and I love dearly. Please pray for his family. They are dear and precious to us and this is all just heartbreaking. Beyond words.]

And so I watch her die. A miracle in the eleventh hour *could* happen, but we may already be about to hear the midnight bell slice through the night. The utter devastation to my heart is in knowing that it did not have to be this way, that her husband and close friends asked her about the lump and have been urging her to get help for 18 years. She is dying and devastating those around her and though she is not yet in her casket the finality of her death feels simply like a formality at this point.

This doesn't have to be this way. It never had to be this way. IT SHOULD NOT BE THIS WAY.

My ability to wrap in eloquent words is...not. I have none. I am torn between numbness and weeping, depending on the hour. 

I share these words, instead.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.


On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.


His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.


When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.


  1. Beautifully written, we are praying too. My husband also loves and respects Dustin, serving with him on the worship team.

  2. Wow...where do you see yourself in 5 years? What perspective do you hope to have then?

    1. That's an excellent question. I hope to have the grace that is hindsight. But even now there is, in the midst of the frustration and heartache and questions, such a sweet presence of Jesus through all of this. He is showing me that he is faithful and trustworthy. The executive leadership of MH has just been proven to be SO incredibly untrustworthy, yet God did allow it to continue without chastening the way we are seeing now...until now. But so much good happened there. So, I hope in 5 years to have the seasoning and grace of maturity and wisdom to be just as heartbroken over the sin yet less confused and all the more able to see the hand of God through the pain. And, oh I pray, to see so much healing and beauty not just in me, my friends, and family, but in thousands of people who grieve this death just as I am.

    2. Oops! I meant the grace that is *clarity* in hindsight. :)