Naturally, Sorge himself had wondered if he was being punished. He had prayed: "Lord, I've done everything I know to do: I've prayed, I've praised, I've repented, I've fasted, I've rebuked, I've surrendered.
"I've read books, I've quoted Scripture, I've spent time in Your presence, I've reconciled with everyone I could conceive had a problem with me, I've gone on an extended personal retreat in solitude."
The only response he received was Ephesians 6:13: "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (NKJV).
"Some victories are gained, not through an aggressive posturing of faith, but by simply standing," Sorge says. "God didn't deliver Joseph from prison because Joseph had a dynamic stance of faith, but because he kept his gaze fixed upon God. Joseph...could get powerful revelations for other people...but when it came to his own life, he could see nothing."
Certainly this was true in Sorge's own life. Hadn't he been obeying God when this happened? Hadn't he been fulfilling God's call to preach?
Bit by bit, things precious to him began to slip from his grasp. The worship ministry vanished overnight. He clung to his pastorate for six more years, preaching three times each weekend, his lips pressed to a microphone for increased volume. But he couldn't engage in casual conversations with parishioners, much less counsel people.
"The only thing I could do is lay myself out on the carpet and just say, 'I love You, Lord,'" he told listeners in a speech once. "I mean, there was no intercession in my life for years. There was nothing.
"I was pastoring at the time, and I thought: Boy, this is really bad. My poor church. The pastor doesn't even pray for them anymore. I used to pray through the whole directory--every person. I stopped all that. I would prostrate myself and say, 'I can do no warfare.'
"I felt like the stuffing was taken right out of me. All I could say was: 'I love You. If this is an attack, I'm lunch. All I can do is love You, Lord.' As I look back, I am convinced that is the most powerful warfare I could have done."
Enduring the Testing
Six years after his affliction hit and what was left of his voice grew weaker, Sorge resigned his pastorate at Zion Fellowship in Canandaigua, New York.
"It's hard to pastor a body of people when you are trying to keep your own head above water," Marci says. "It just came to a place where it became impossible at the relational end."
Chris Wood, now senior pastor at Zion Fellowship and Sorge's assistant for six years, agrees. "It came to a point where the frustration of being a senior pastor and not doing the things his heart yearned to do was too much. He couldn't interact with his staff or congregation."
The one bright spot was a 1994 encounter at a conference featuring speakers Mike Bickle, former pastor of Metro Christian Fellowship in Kansas City, Missouri, and director of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City; and Paul Cain, who operates a prophetic ministry in the same area.
Cain's prophecies over Christian leaders, notably John Wimber, have not been without controversy, but when Tommy Reid, pastor of the host church, suggested Cain might have a word, Sorge was ready to listen.
"Paul Cain prophesied there would be a day of deliverance when [Sorge's] voice will open up," Wood recalls. "We don't know when that day will be, but we're standing with him."
Two years ago, the Sorges moved to the Kansas City area, where Marci volunteers as personnel director for the International House of Prayer, and the family attends Metro Christian Fellowship. By this time, Bob had come out with several books, such as The Fire of Delayed Answers and The Fire of God's Love, and word had started to get out about his unusual insights.
"People really do listen to him," says Art Cole, a staff pastor at Grace Chapel, a Foursquare church in Tucson, Arizona, where Sorge has been invited to speak twice. "He speaks to issues most Christians have and about which most don't have answers for."
In fact, Cole adds, inviting Sorge to speak is a bit "like open-heart surgery. It's uncomfortable, but there's healing." Sorge had wryly noted to him that he gets people's attention more without a voice than in the days when he had one.
An old friend of his, Wayne Clarke, who pastors Sabre Springs Foursquare Church north of San Diego, says Sorge galvanized his small congregation when he came there in February 2000.
"God tests our love," Sorge told the Sabre Springs church. "He says, 'Do you love Me?' I said: 'Yes, Lord, I love You. I am crazy about You.' He says: 'What will you do when I offend you? If you hang out with Me long enough, I will offend you.'
"Because the fact is," Sorge continued, whispering into the microphone the way he has since the botched surgery, "He offends everybody, if you stick with Him long enough. He offended the disciples. He offended the Pharisees. He offended everybody. Finally, Jesus said, 'Are you guys going to leave, too?'
"And Peter had to admit he was offended, but he said: 'Where else do we go? What are the options? You have the words of eternal life.' But the question He comes back to with Peter is: 'Do you love Me?'
"The cross is His invitation to love, how much He loved us, and how we can love Him back. Our cross becomes our marriage bed where we express our deepest love for Him. And the sight of us on our cross reminds God of His Son on His cross."