Texas Megachurch Pastor Makes Cancer Fight Public

Correction appended

The pastor of one of America's largest churches is taking a two-month sabbatical following a surgery he underwent last month and kept private until last week.

"It is perfect timing to begin that sabbatical now for the continued healing of my body, soul and spirit," reported Jack Graham this past week to the more than 26,000 members of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.

"During this time, we will travel, relax, and enjoy our family. I also feel it is important to cancel my speaking engagements away and focus on my personal walk with Christ, fortify my faith, and make sure in all this journey that Christ is magnified," he added.

It was in April that Graham was diagnosed with prostate cancer following a routine checkup and subsequent biopsy.

"This was not what we expected to hear, but received it as a part of God's plan for my life knowing full well we can trust Him in everything," recalled Graham, who served as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention for two terms.

After consultation with his doctors, Graham chose to have surgery on May 14 but kept it, as well as his prognosis, private "for a number of reasons."

Following a successful surgery, Graham said his team of doctors assured him that his prognosis is "outstanding."

Still, following the surgery, Graham found it challenging upon his return to the pulpit ten days later despite having a "somewhat scaled-back schedule."

"That was a push, but God has been faithful to strengthen me," he reported last Monday.

As a result of the past two months, Graham is urging men to get regular checkups, noting the preventive steps he took helped him to receive the healing he needed.

"So, guys, bless your family by making sure you maintain good health through regular checkups and taking good care of yourself," he urged.

In addition to serving as senior pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, Graham is the voice of PowerPoint Ministries, Prestonwood's broadcast ministry.

Founded in 1977 as a church plant of Northway Baptist Church, Prestonwood Baptist Church is today one of the largest megachurches in North America and one of America's 50 Most Influential Churches according to a 2007 survey of church leaders.

Graham has served the congregation as senior pastor since 1989, when it was only 11,000-large.

Correction: Tuesday, June 30, 2009:

An article on Monday, June 29, 2009, about Pastor Jack Graham's decision to take a two-month sabbatical incorrectly noted a past event as having happened recently when it had not. The arrest of former staff member Joe Barron occurred on May 15, 2008, not May 15, 2009.