Pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in San Diego, Calif., has lost his wife, Carol, after a five-year battle with cancer, it was revealed on Sunday.
"Forty-two years ago, we ended our wedding vows with the words '...until one of us shall place the other in the arms of God.' I just did that," the senior pastor, who leads a 2,500 member congregation, wrote in a solemn message announcing the news.
Carol Garlow had been battling abdominal cancer for five years and nine months, but after the illness refused to go into remission, she made the decision with her oncologist last week to discontinue treatment.
"Carol and I meet with her oncologist on Tuesday, April 16. When I ask her, 'Are you going to have more chemo?' she replies, 'I do not know.' The reality is, she cannot. If she were to have more (at least in the condition that she is in now), we would have to take her to the ER. There would have to be an enormous improvement between now and Tuesday for her to have more chemo. My sensing is that the oncologist will advise us to begin hospice."
At that time, Carol Garlow had lost substantial weight and was consuming only 300 calories some days.
"Our hearts join Jim's and the tremendous number of others who are mourning the death of Carol Garlow," said Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears in a statement. "Her unwavering faith and perseverance was an example to many. She loved God, was a pillar of strength for her husband, and had an immense impact, including upon those of us who have worked closely with the Garlows in support of religious freedom. Our prayers are with Jim and the entire Garlow family."
When they decided to stop treatment, Garlow said that he believed his wife only had a month or two left to live. "I am typing these words through tears and, candidly, in a bit of disbelief and shock," he said in an update to his church.
In an interview with The Christian Post back in March, while promoting a book about miracles titled Real Life, Real Miracles, Garlow revealed that Carol's cancer had returned seven times.
"She has been battling this cancer for five years and eight months – of this kind of cancer, she is in the top 99.99 percent of people with this disease are deceased by now. The topic of miracles is something we need now; we need one desperately!" the pastor said.
"So many Christians label things as miracles too fast," he added. "Conversely, many things we consider natural are themselves miraculous. We thus deal with miracles in one sense all the time and at other times they appear to us randomly as incredible manifestations. God does both for a purpose and we have to decode that purpose."
In tribute of Carol Garlow, Skyline's Facebook page says , "She never lost her praise. Garlow family, our hearts grieve deeply with you today. May the strong arms of Jesus hold you tight. We love you."
Garlow, who has led Skyline Church since 1995, is a leader in the "pulpit freedom" movement which insists that pastors should be allowed to voice their opinions on political leaders and not face charges by the IRS. He also took a leading role in defending Proposition 8, the 2008 amendment in California that established the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.
Garlow has written over 11 books, including New York Times bestseller Cracking DaVinci's Code.