S5:E1 | Ken Erny

July 14, 2021

God Meets You in the Mess 

Life is messy. Just ask Ken Erny. 

Ken, a 1978 graduate, discovered how messy life could be as a student-athlete when he played in 70-mile-per-hour winds, snow, and rain as a member of the men’s tennis team. Or when he broke his wrist on the way to a match, wiping out his opportunity to play at the NAIA national tournament. Murray Murdoch, Distinguished Professor of History and Government, was then the men’s tennis coach and took Ken to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning for X-rays and casting. But also took him out to breakfast afterward. 

In 2020, Ken could look back at a successful career as a history teacher, soccer program founder and coach, and athletic director in Fruitport, Michigan, but he wasn’t slowing down. Although he was mentoring his successor, Ken was still serving 60-70 hours a week as athletic director at Fruitland High School. Then COVID-19 brought Ken, and the rest of the world, to a hard stop. 

It was during the quiet of the pandemic that Ken began noticing that there was something wrong with his step. His leg and foot weren’t working exactly right. He thought it was a back problem that might be solved with new supportive footwear, but the doctor’s diagnosis revealed something more devastating: Ken had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease for which there is no cure.  

Since receiving his diagnosis, Ken and Lori, his wife of 42 years and a fellow Cedarville alum, have committed to living each day to the fullest, surrounded by the love of their supportive family and friends. Ken has recorded more than 100 messages so far for Lori, his kids, grandkids, and other loved ones, for when he is no longer able to speak, a symptom of ALS. And one of his biggest messages? 

“Life is messy, and yet we have a God who says He will come right alongside you,” Ken shares during the podcast. “God promised to join you in the mess. He won’t leave you in spite of anything, and the future is so much better compared to what we’re going through now.” 

Ken received a surprise visit on the podcast from his beloved professor and coach, Murray Murdoch

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