Special Update: Pastor Ralph’s Health Situation


Sunday, 5 September 2021

Hi family and friends,

We’ve been receiving a lot of requests for an update, so here is the most recent information.

Pastor Ralph was able to come home from the hospital on August 20th and remains in stable condition. His health remains seriously compromised, but he is growing stronger.

This is a period of significant adjustment for both Pastor Ralph and the family, but we rest in God’s sovereign provision and goodness. Would you be in prayer for wisdom, patience, and a godly perspective as we face these new realities?


The Willan Family

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Hello everyone,

We wanted to provide a brief update about Pastor Ralph’s situation. He remains in the hospital, and is currently in fairly stable but serious condition. He will have to remain in hospital for several more weeks (we’re not exactly sure whether it’s two or six) while doctors try to get a better picture of the issues he’s currently facing and work out a treatment. Would you continue to pray for wisdom for his doctors and peace for Pastor Ralph?


The Willan Family

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Dear Calvary and community,

We thought we’d posted the last of these updates, but our plans are not God’s plans!

Pastor Ralph was admitted to Trillium Hospital on the night of Sunday, July 18th after several weeks of steady decline in his health. We discovered yesterday afternoon in conversation with his nurse practitioner that his heart muscle has deteriorated by about 20% since he was discharged from the hospital. The leaks in his heart valves (mitral, and, as we discovered today, also tricuspid) have become severe, and he was retaining huge amounts of fluid. While his medical team are still debating a course of action, the present opinion is that he isn’t a good candidate for surgery, and they are exploring options to continue treating the leaks with medication in the hopes of buying time until his body is stronger. If they do another surgery, they are hoping it can be a minimally invasive one to increase his chances.

This has come as a surprise to us, but we rest in the knowledge that none of this takes God by surprise. We continue to believe wholeheartedly that whatever God decides is right, and Pastor Ralph’s days will be exactly as long as God intends for them to be. We praise God for the excellent care Pastor Ralph continues to receive!

You have stood faithfully by us for so long, dear family and friends, but we ask once more: would you pray with us for peace, for God’s guidance, and if it’s His will, for healing?


The Willan Family

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Hi everyone! This will be our final update.

We just wanted you all to know Pastor Ralph is now home and doing great. He was able to return to church today for our first in-person meeting in months.

We will never forget the love and support of our community, nor will we ever forget how good God has been to us. We will never stop giving thanks!


The Willan Family

Friday, 21 May 2021

Hello, everyone!

We wanted to share the latest good news with you.

Pastor Ralph has been progressing well over these last few weeks, growing in strength and energy. He was transferred today to a rehabilitation hospital in Etobicoke where he will spend the next three weeks undergoing intensive rehabilitative therapy. After that, he will be able to come home! We are overjoyed that this long and winding journey is almost at an end, and that we’ll be able to have him back for Father’s Day.

You, our community, have been a tremendous encouragement that has helped to sustain him through his recovery, and also to us as we have struggled to walk this road with its many blind turns by faith. God’s goodness to us surpasses words, and you have so often been its instruments. We give thanks for you all, for Pastor Ralph, for the staff who worked so tirelessly to save and rebuild him, and for the mercy of God our Father, from whom all blessings flow.

The Willan Family

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Hi everyone,

More good news about Pastor Ralph’s progress! His tracheostomy tube has been removed, and they will soon be removing the tube in his neck. He has passed one swallow test, which allowed him to begin a thickened liquid diet earlier in the week. He is struggling with eating, however, and so he will be undergoing another swallow test tomorrow morning to determine if he can graduate to more liquid and solid foods. Doctors have confirmed that his kidneys are recovering well from the strain of the medications he was on, and all indicators are that he won’t need dialysis going forward! Praise God for this answer to prayer!

He is still quite weak, and finds it difficult to speak and type. For this reason, please do not contact Pastor Ralph directly as he’s still not ready to take calls and messages. If you need anything or would like to send him a message of support, please send it through the family or direct it to the church contact form or Facebook page.

Pastor Ralph has a great deal of rehabilitation ahead of him, and as mentioned above, he is finding it very difficult to eat. He has lost of great deal of weight throughout this ordeal, and is praying for God’s help in navigating this crucial part of his recovery. We would appreciate your prayers about this matter added to his, and ours! Would you also pray that he would continue to feel the comfort of God’s presence?

Thank you, as always, for everything you, our community, have done and are continuing to do for us.

The Willan Family

Monday, 19 April 2021

Hello, family and friends,

We wanted to let you know that Pastor Ralph is doing extremely well, and he will be transferred to less intensive care tomorrow! His doctors have decided to manage his remaining cardiological damage with medication rather than risking a second surgery, and his kidney function appears to be returning. The staff continue to be amazed at his recovery — they’re calling him “the Miracle Man”! It’s been such a delight for nurses who treated him weeks ago when his condition was so grave to see him now doing so well. We share their awe, and cannot put into words our gratitude to God for how richly He has answered our prayers, even those that seemed most impossible!

Eliza has been able to read some of your birthday messages to Pastor Ralph, and as mentioned in Sunday’s online service, he sends his love to you all. He also asks that you pray for the other people undergoing treatment in his ward, especially one of his neighbours who is in grave condition following recent surgery. We don’t know the man’s name or particular issues, but our Heavenly Father does.

Pastor Ralph has begun rehabilitation, but there is a tremendous amount of work to be done. We know that God will be faithful throughout this process, as He has been through every single step. Would you pray for rest, peace, and strength for Pastor Ralph as he reckons with the enormity of the task ahead of him?

To Pastor Ralph’s love to you all we add our own, and as ever our thanks. We have felt so loved and lifted up during these difficult days. There’s a long road ahead, but we have been made stronger for it by the love, prayers, and support of our community, and by God our Father, who has provided all we need and more.

The Willan Family

Monday, 12 April 2021

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since we’ve done an update, so we wanted to let you know how things are progressing.

Pastor Ralph continues to grow stronger. Nurses have him sitting up for most of the day now and are working on rebuilding his strength starting with his major muscle groups. He cannot speak yet due to his tracheostomy tube and has not yet built up the fine motor skills for writing, so we’ve been discovering as a family just how bad we are at lip reading! Thankfully Pastor Ralph has been very patient with us.

While there were initially some hopeful signs that his kidney function was returning, it seems that the damage from such intensive and prolonged medication may be irreversible, and that he may require dialysis on a permanent basis. A few of the doctors think improvement might still be possible, but as with all things, the matter rests in the hands of our loving and sovereign Heavenly Father, who has already brought Pastor Ralph so much farther than we imagined possible. Would you keep this in prayer?

With love and gratitude,

The Willan Family

Friday, 2 April 2021

Hello, our dear friends and family,

We wanted to share with you the joyous news that after two long, uncertain weeks, Pastor Ralph is awake!

When Eliza visited him this afternoon, the nurse had him sitting up in a chair. He is very weak, but he is able to shift around and look at people for short spans of time. Though he isn’t able to speak because of his tracheostomy tube, he was able to communicate with Eliza by squeezing her hand and nodding his head.

We are so thankful to God our Father for this incredible development. What more fitting time to be witnessing God’s power over death than on Good Friday?

Again, we thank you all for your prayers and kind messages. Your love has and continues to move us deeply.

With love and gratitude,

The Willan Family

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Dear friends and family,

The last few days have brought some excellent news we wanted to share with you all!

Firstly, Pastor Ralph is getting stronger. A few days ago, we learned that his heart has begun to beat on its own again (for several weeks, his heart was unable to produce any rhythm of its own and he was completely dependent on external pace wires), and he has also been able to do more and more of his own breathing. We are so thankful and amazed that he is becoming less dependent upon life support machines for these vital functions!

Secondly, he continues to undergo dialysis to support his kidneys, which have been greatly taxed by these many weeks of intense medication. There have been a few bumps in the road, but overall the treatment is going well. We are hoping that dialysis will not be needed long-term, and that his kidney function will be restored once he is weaned off the medications. We would appreciate your prayers in this matter.

Thirdly, his permanent pacemaker was installed yesterday. The surgery went smoothly, and he will no longer need the pace wires that are now supporting his natural rhythm rather than providing all of it.

Fourthly, his doctors continue to conclude that Pastor Ralph is not a good candidate for open heart surgery, and that such a traumatic procedure would likely be more than Pastor Ralph could survive in his present condition. However, they believe that they may be able to treat the remaining damage to Pastor Ralph’s heart with medication — they may not have to perform a second open-heart surgery at all! Please continue to pray for wisdom for his doctors as they make these complex decisions.

Lastly, overnight (between 23 and 24 March) hospital staff will begin waking Pastor up and weaning him off the ventilator over the course of the week! This is incredibly exciting, but we are trying to remember that this process can be slow and nothing is guaranteed. Would you keep this development in prayer?

Hospital staff are truly amazed that Pastor Ralph is still with us! One doctor recently told Eliza during a visit that she, the doctor, can sense God when she enters Pastor’s hospital room. We have been sharing with every nurse and doctor that we encounter how much we appreciate their work, that we are praying for them by name, and that we know Pastor Ralph is in God’s hands. We are so thankful for this opportunity to share our hope of life in Christ, and we are blessed beyond measure to have so many of you holding to that hope with us and daily lifting up our family. We love you and we are so grateful for every single one of you!

This Saturday will be Pastor Ralph’s 66th birthday. We weren’t sure which side of Heaven Pastor Ralph would be on when we celebrated, but something of which our family is sure, by God’s grace, is that God is good and He is mighty. This year, as we give thanks for Pastor Ralph’s years on earth, we especially give thanks for the hands that hold him. They are the same hands that hold the world.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Hello all,

It’s been a little while since we’ve posted an update, so we wanted to let you know how things are going. There has been some encouraging improvement in Pastor Ralph’s condition, but his team are waiting to see a steady pattern of improvement before they proceed with his next surgery. They will continue to monitor his condition closely over the next 2 weeks as they plan their next steps.

We praise God for this good news and for the faithful prayers and love of our community. Our God is great, and prayer is powerful! Thank you again, all of you.

The Willan Family

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Hello everyone,

We wanted to provide a brief update. Pastor Ralph has been responding well to dialysis treatments and medical staff have been able to significantly reduce the fluid that was built up in his tissues. We are thankful for this development! His condition is stable, but he remains critically ill and too unwell for his next surgery. The direction of Pastor Ralph’s journey remains uncertain, but its ultimate outcome is assured. We cannot thank you all enough for your prayers and encouragement. Your love means so much to us. We have experienced more peace than we could have imagined!

With love and gratitude,

The Willan Family

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Hello, everyone,

We know many have been wondering what the current status is. Really, not much has changed since our last update. Doctors continue to bombard the infection with antibiotics and Pastor Ralph will undergo dialysis today to support this treatment. Hopefully this will be a temporary measure, but we continue to take this one step at a time.

We can’t see the road ahead, but we know we are never alone. We thank God for His sustaining grace and all of you for everything you’ve done and are doing. You are more appreciated than you know!

The Willan Family

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Hello everyone,

We spoke this afternoon with Pastor Ralph’s surgeon, and he has determined that Pastor Ralph is too sick for them to proceed with surgery (the infection has spread to his lungs and is beginning to affect the function of his other organs). They doctors can only continue to administer heavy doses of antibiotics and wait to see how things unfold.

We know Pastor Ralph’s days will be exactly as many as God intends, and we rest in that. This has been a difficult journey, and you have all been a blessing to us. We’re praying for peace and comfort for our family and friends. We thank God for all of you.

The Willan Family.

Good morning, everyone

Just a quick update: Pastor’s surgery has been postponed to this evening or tomorrow.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Hello, dear friends and family,

We had a call not long ago from the surgeon who has been taking care of Pastor Ralph and it has been determined that another open heart surgery will be necessary. The infection has not responded to the antibiotics as they had hoped and more damage has been done to his heart, including undoing some of the work done in the previous surgery.

The surgery will take place tomorrow morning. The surgeon has warned us that there is a significant chance that Pastor Ralph will not be able to survive the procedure. If he does survive and the infection continues to ravage his heart, there is nothing further that the surgeon will be able to do.

We wish the news was happier. Our comfort is in knowing that Pastor Ralph knows and loves the greatest news of all: that he will have eternal life in Heaven because he has entrusted his life — and all its circumstances — to God. There is no greater hope in life or death.

We will keep you updated. Thank you for walking with us and praying for us through these difficult days.

The Willan Family

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Good morning everyone,

We know people have been anxious for updates and we so appreciate your care and prayers. There still isn’t much to report, unfortunately, and Pastor Ralph’s condition remains largely unchanged since our post on Saturday. He is unconscious and on a ventilator while his medical team try to bring the infection under control.

We will keep you posted as to any developments. Thank you for walking with us through this difficult time. God is good!

The Willan Family

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Hello, family and friends,

We learned this morning that Pastor Ralph’s condition had deteriorated overnight and continued to decline during the day. Medical staff are impressing upon us that his condition is grave.

We are grateful for all of you. We continue to seek and appreciate your prayers.

The Willan Family

Friday, February 26, 2021

Hi everyone,

We just wanted to let you know that Pastor’s condition remains the same as yesterday. We’ll be sure to pass on any news when we have it.

Thank you again for your care and concern for Pastor and our family!

The Willan Family

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Dear family and friends,

Today has been a good day. We called the hospital this morning to speak to Pastor Ralph’s nurse and learned that he was well enough to be taken off the ventilator only six hours after surgery (it was expected he would be on a ventilator for 2-3 days). We were even able to speak to Pastor Ralph on the phone, and his voice sounded considerably better.

Pastor Ralph remains in critical condition. There’s a long and difficult road ahead of him yet, so our optimism is cautious, but we thank God for His gracious answer to prayer and we thank all of you for your love, prayers, and support.

The Willan Family

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Hello everyone,

We have just heard from the hospital, and Pastor Ralph has come through his surgery and is doing okay, but his condition is still critical. The infection did immense damage to his heart, so the next few hours and days will be critical. The surgeon was amazed that the procedure, long and difficult though it was, went as well as it did (the surgeon said it was “miraculous”). We continue to trust in the Lord, and we continue to earnestly seek your prayers. We will provide updates as soon as we have them, and we ask for now that people contact us by Facebook, text, or email so we can keep the phone lines free (there’s been some confusion among hospital staff as to which number they should call, so we’re trying to keep all of our lines free).

Thank you, all of you. We are so appreciative of your kindness.

The Willan Family

We learned late last night that Pastor Ralph’s surgery would take place at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, February 24.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Dear church family and friends,

As you may have heard, Pastor Ralph was hospitalised on the evening of Sunday, February 21. We know this news took some people by surprise because of how well he seemed in the sermon video of this past Sunday, February 21. The sermon had actually been filmed the week before, and Pastor Ralph began to feel sick a few days after it was filmed. He initially decided to self-isolate at his church office, concerned that he might have contracted COVID-19. He tested negative for COVID this past Thursday and came home on Friday so we could help take care of him. While we’d been in contact with him by phone, it became evident when he got home that he was even sicker than we’d realised. It was as though he had aged years in a matter of days.

His condition continued to deteriorate, and by the evening of Sunday the 21st, it became apparent he needed urgent medical attention. We called an ambulance and Pastor Ralph was transferred to Brampton Civic Hospital where he was treated for sepsis. He responded well to antibiotics, but his doctor advised us that there was likely damage to his heart.

Pastor Ralph has contracted a serious bacterial infection which has critically damaged one of his heart valves and requires open heart surgery, which will take place today at Trillium Hospital. The risk of complication is elevated due to his infection and the possibility that it has caused damage to his other organs. Eliza and Emily were able to speak to him for a few moments this morning by telephone (visits are not permitted due to COVID), and he is in good spirits. He is at peace and prepared for any outcome, cherishing the knowledge that death would mean promotion to Heaven.

We will post updates as things progress. We would ask that you direct calls to our cellphones instead of our home phone so we can keep our home phone line open for calls from the hospital. (If you don’t have our cellphone numbers and would like to be able to reach us by phone, please send a message through this website, which I (Emily) manage.)

We are so grateful for your love, care, prayers, and support. We want you to know that we are doing well. We can truly say we’re experiencing the peace of God that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7), and we’re deeply touched by the calls, texts, emails, and messages of support we’ve been receiving. We are thankful for each of you and we are blessed to have you in our lives. We believe that whatever our circumstances may be, God is sovereign, God is good, and we trust in His ability to provide for us. We’ve been trying to encourage each other and have been listening to hymns that ground us in truth. Two hymns that have been particularly meaningful are It Is Well by Horatio G. Spafford and Whate’er my God Ordains is Right by Samuel Rodigast. We take hope, comfort, and joy in the words of these hymns, and we hope they will encourage you as well.

We wanted to share this portion of scripture with you. Pastor Ralph examined it in messages at the beginning of the pandemic, and it seems appropriate to return to it now.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:4-9

With love and gratitude,

The Willan Family

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