When Pastor Gregg Matte was challenged to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by Houston Texans QB Case Keenum and Cypress Campus Pastor Jason Swiggart and his family, he knew he didn't want to do it alone.
Rather, he invited Houston's First Deacon JJ LaCarter to join him. JJ was miraculously healed of ALS in 2009. Hear more about his story below.
And, when Pastor Gregg and JJ accepted the challenge, they stood in the fountain at The Loop Campus so that the water would be recycled. The fountain symbolizes the "streams of living water" that flow from those who believe in Christ, as well as Houston's First's commitment to providing funding for Living Water International.
In July of 2008, I went to see a neurologist in the Texas Medical Center for a pain that went from my hip to my foot. After many tests in his office, he said that he hoped that he was wrong, but he believed that I had ALS.
ALS is a fatal disease that is affecting about 30,000 Americans right now. There is no cure. There are no medications to treat it. Over the course of about 2-5 years ALS progressively paralyzes all the muscles in the body, including the muscles that control speaking, breathing and eating—eventually resulting in death. Barbara and I were in total shock.
I was referred to one of the world’s leading research doctors for ALS here in Houston. After extensive testing for three days, he was certain that I had ALS. I asked him how long I had to live, and he said that each case is like a snowflake, they are all different.
The doctor enrolled me in a group clinical study that came together every three months. Men and women, young and old from different parts of the southern United States all participated in the study. I watched the other people’s health deteriorate before my eyes. My tests remained consistently good.
The prayers I received from Houston’s First Baptist Church were sincere and constant, as people would stop me in the hall just to tell me they were praying for me. I know that when you ask people at Houston’s First to pray, they really do! My own prayer was for me to continue to walk, talk and breathe. Each Sunday I thanked the Lord that he allowed me to walk up the stairs to our Life Bible Study that met on the second floor.
In February 2009, Pastor Gregg had just returned from a trip to Israel. While he was there, his tour guide prompted him to pray for someone who needed healing when they visited the Pool at Bethesda. After stopping me in the hall one Sunday to see how I was feeling, Pastor Gregg wanted me to know that the Lord prompted him to pray for my complete healing. I was deeply touched.
On September 11, 2009, my doctor called Barbara and me into his office. After looking through a stack of medical records over 10 inches tall, he looked at me and said, "Mr. LaCarter, I do not believe you have ALS anymore.”
Barbara asked him if it was a wrong diagnosis. He said that it was not, and that I did have ALS. We immediately told him that it was answered prayer and God’s healing. He said “maybe so,” but we knew it was. I asked him if he had ever told anyone else this before, and he replied, “Only three patients since 1982.”
I’m forever grateful for this miracle, and for the many opportunities for me tell others what God has done.
People wishing to make a donation toward ALS research are encouraged to give to organizations recommended by Christian bioethicist David Prentice. The following organizations use adult stem cells — rather than embryonic ones — in their ALS research:
Additional information about each of these organizations can be found in the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's related article.
If you — or a loved one — are living with ALS or any other illness, Houston's First staff members and volunteers would be honored to pray on your behalf. Call the Prayer Line at 713.335.6456.