David Ford, a beloved Michigan pastor, longtime UPS driver and father of nine who friends say shared an inspiring testimony about beating the new coronavirus, died Tuesday of complications from the disease. He was 59.
Ford, who led the Friendship House of Prayer in Lansing for several years, is now being mourned by his family and many in his community like Lansing Mayor Andy Schor who had already began celebrating his recovery.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Pastor Ford of Friendship House of Prayer. He was a wonderful friend to me and the city of Lansing. I spoke with him just last week and he shared an incredible story as a survivor of COIVD-19. The passing of Pastor Ford is a tremendous loss to the church, to me personally as a friend and to the city of Lansing. My thoughts are with him, his family, his friends and his congregation during this difficult time,” Schor said in a statement on Facebook Thursday.
Schor further told WILX that Ford’s survivor story was quite exceptional."
"He was telling me he was on a ventilator, breathing fire, in bad shape and laying on ice, but he was able to come through it," the mayor said. "He wanted to share his story so people will know what it was like to battle this virus and not lose faith."
Bishop David Maxwell, a ministry colleague, told news station WILX that the late pastor had tested positive for the coronavirus in late March and was admitted to Beaumont Hospital for seven days. He started feeling better and was subsequently discharged to go home.
"He was excited, as ever, looking forward to preaching the Gospel and thankful to be home," Maxwell said.
On Sunday, however, Ford preached from his home about the resurrection in what would be his final sermon.
Ford's family told WILX that the pastor started feeling ill again and quickly died.
"It was shocking. I was sad, I was angry, I was upset that my friend who was a leader in Lansing succumbed to this after surviving,” Schor said.
The Lansing mayor remembered Ford’s messages as uplifting.
"You always really felt good about yourself after his service," he said. "It was loud, fun, informative, and serious."
Maxwell called him “extraordinary.”
"He was an extraordinary person, a lovable person who harbored no ill will to anyone. His smile was contagious,” the bishop recalled. "His imprint on the hearts and minds in the landscape of our community has not ended. It will continue to go on."
Ford’s cousin, JoAnn Bell, noted on Facebook that he “was really somebody.”
“Please pray for David’s Wife Cassandra Ford and the Entire Ford Family ..........Our Cousin Pastor David Ford made his Transition yesterday to be with the Lord, he surely earned his wings a long time ago, ...however, we just wasn’t ready for him to leave us so soon,” she noted Wednesday. “If you really knew Pastor David Ford, you couldn’t help but LOVE HIM AS WHO HE WAS.... and how he loved the Lord, his wife, his children, and his family and church family, & friends. He could really sing and play that piano/ organ, and preaching under the anointing of God. He was really somebody. Please lift his wife up in prayer as she loved her husband tremendously! My heart is broke into pieces!”
Parishioner Sylvia Hatcher noted on his obituary page Friday that he was “a great pastor.”
“Pastor David Ford was the most gentle, kind, loving person that I’ve known. He was a great pastor and I will miss him very much. He did a lot for the community and he loved the Friendship House of Prayer Baptist Church family. I love him and I will never forget him. My sincere condolences to Cassandra, Davona and the entire Ford family,” she wrote.
Cassandra Ford said even though she was “devastated” by her husband's death, “I know God is still in control and that is the only this I can hold on to."