It's an arresting message.

"When Bob is speaking, even in that hushed whisper, there is an intensity that comes across that adds to his message," Clarke says. "Of course you can't be a worship leader or a pastor without your voice. I'm sure he's been pulled through a knothole backward."

"I haven't been able to sing for 7-1/2 years," Sorge told the Sabre Springs church. "For any of you who can lead worship, you must understand what that can be like. It's an injury that has radically traumatized and transformed every area of my life.

"As pastor, husband, father, teacher, conference speaker, every area of my life--everything I thought was my identity--was profoundly affected. Everything was shut down, and I found myself in an incredible crisis theologically, emotionally, physically, relationally.

"Virtually every area of my life was touched by this. It catapulted me into a desperate pursuit of God. I've discovered that God knows how to make us desperate." <P > Ministry From the Heart

A tall, sensitive man who works out of an office in his home, Sorge takes time to bake bread for his wife and three children, who range in age from 12 to 18. His days are filled with writing, answering voluminous amounts of e-mail and managing his www.oasishouse.net Web site, which lists his frequent speaking engagements.

Charismatic pioneer and teacher Judson Cornwall, who has known Sorge since his Elim Bible school days, says his protegé shows a level of spiritual passion and friendship with God rarely seen among worship leaders.

"I believe the future will reveal that Bob's greatest ministry has been his writings," Cornwall told Charisma. "There's a vast difference in tone between Bob's first and later books. The first was written from his head. The second and others have come from his heart."

But it is a broken heart, and Sorge admits that just as many Christians are broken by suffering as are transformed by it. Or they slip into a numb resignation for the rest of their lives.

"There are casualties," he said during an interview in his home in Lee's Summit, Missouri, 20 miles southeast of Kansas City. "Satan is gambling he can turn you into a casualty, and God is testing you to see if you will become a spiritual giant.

"A friend always loves. A friend of God loves God even in the toughest of times. This is the litmus test of friendship with God: Do I still love Him, even when He allows inexplicable trauma to hit my life?

"A lot of conservative evangelical slant on suffering is that God is omniscient, sovereign, and He knows best," Sorge continues. "So we throw up our hands and just kind of cope. That particular approach doesn't satisfy people in crisis. I've had to seek after answers that satisfy me in my pain.

"The key word here is purpose. God has a purpose. The invitation for us is to press violently into it. If you want to find purpose, you first have to find God. Without God, there is no purpose.

"A lot of Christians will say, 'Just don't ask why.' I am not in that camp. Jesus asked why. David asked why. The Bible is full of people who had questions. God is to be wrestled with. He has unfolded purpose to me."

God has accelerated a character change in the dark night of his soul, Sorge says. The pastor often refers to Job, the first book of the Bible to have been recorded.

"That makes it a cornerstone of Scripture," he says. "Satan's accusation is that you have a tyrant for a father. The cynic will look at this and be bitter at God. The saint will be transformed by this."

That's why Sorge doesn't buy the theology that death will deliver him from his afflictions. The scriptural pattern shows that "there is a deliverance God intends for His beloved in this life," he says. "The pattern of Scripture is that God's man is eventually vindicated.

"My conviction is that God has allowed this in my life for a specific purpose," he continues. "Basically I am 'unto death' on this thing. I have assurances from Him He will heal me. I am waiting on Him to fulfill His Word. The alternative is to shut down, cope and level a lawsuit against the doctor who did this to me--that is, cope until I die. But that is not God."

Does he ever have doubts?

"Every day is a fight of faith, which is necessary to bolster myself in the assurance God has given me. The other voices scream at me, that I am delusional: 'It's been nine years, Bob. Wake up and smell the coffee. You are handicapped for life.' Everywhere I turn, I am bombarded by negative unbelief."

And so he waits.

"God is the master of suspense," he says. "He wants to take you into a story with suspense and intrigue, mystery, finale and conclusion, and give you a testimony to His glory. If you get it all up front, it's boring.

"He loves to deliver us out of situations where there is no possible way out. Then He sweeps in."

Julia Duin is an assistant national editor for The Washington Times.

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