Pastor Britt Merrick, founder of a church planting movement based in the Santa Barbara area of California, said that his 7-year-old daughter is suffering from a third bout with cancer and that he will be taking an extended leave of absence from his ministry.
Merrick's daughter, Daisy, has been battling cancer for the last three years. The family's journey has been a frequent part of the influential pastor's messages given during his Sunday sermons and radio show programs aired on Christian stations.
"This news has been incredibly difficult and quite frankly, the outlook isn't great," said Merrick via a video posted Friday on the website of Reality Carpinteria, the church he leads. "Our family is engaged in a battle for Daisy's life."
In an effort to save her life, the family will pursue both traditional and alternative treatment plans, he explained.
"Some of these will include an extended stay in Israel for immunotherapy and an experimental cancer vaccine," he said. "Ultimately, all of our hope is in Jesus."
Merrick said that the elders at Reality have given him an extended leave of absence in order to give top priority to the health of his daughter. In addition to being the lead pastor at his church in Carpinteria, he helps oversee the Reality network of churches, including campuses located in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Stockton, Calif. Other churches in the network are in Boston and London.
Having grown up entrenched in the surf industry, Merrick was the heir of Channel Islands Surfboards, said to be the most famous surfboard company in the world. As a young adult, he oversaw the company's marketing and advertising and managed its amateur surf team. Working alongside his father, Surfing Hall of Famer Al Merrick, he also made (shaped) surfboards for some of the best surfers globally.
In 2003, he laid his work at Channel Islands aside, and with his wife and some close friends started Reality in his hometown of Carpinteria.
During a 2010 interview for his book, Big God – What Happens When We Trust Him, Merrick described the size of the tumor first discovered (now three years ago) in Daisy's stomach as "the size of a Nerf football."
The cancer was diagnosed as a rare form of kidney cancer that had been developing in her since birth.
When asked by interviewer Jim Cantelon what he did after doctors told him and his wife that their daughter had stage three cancer, he said, "I'm so thankful for the sovereignty of the Lord. He had me writing this book and He had my wife and I journeying through these great testimonies of faith… testifying to how big God is and how present He is in difficulty and overwhelming circumstances… because we lived our life committed to the Lord and scripture, and reading the Bible, I want to tell you by grace, as soon as we heard that news, all the promises of God, the character of God, the love of God came flooding into our hearts.
"We just had this amazing experience of Christ… just a supernatural experience of Christ and His immediate presence."
Merrick added that the message they received from God wasn't about the fact that their daughter would be healed, even though they both believe in the healing power of God, but that "no matter what, we believe God to be good. We believe that He is present. We believe that He is caring."
The night before his daughter's first surgery Merrick said during the interview that he struggled with God about the fact that she might die, but came away with an amazing outlook.
"By grace He brought me to the place where I could truly say that 'Jesus, you are of more value than even my children and if my daughter dies tomorrow nothing changes between me and you. I still believe that you are God and that you are good. I will still preach you, teach you, and point people to you. Nothing changes. If my daughter dies, you are of surpassing value.'"