Crown Alumnus Dr. John Stumbo: From Deathbed to President’s Desk

November 16, 2017

Dr. John Stumbo has a testimony of struggle and how God can use any situation to help you learn to lead. After spending 25 years as a pastor and overcoming a mysterious disease, he became the president of the The Christian and Missionary Alliance church.

Becoming president was a defining moment in his life.

John Joanna


Early Years

Stumbo attended Crown College in 1983, when it was still called St. Paul Bible College. He enjoyed freshmen pranks and spending quality time with the guys.

He still fondly remembers Deeper Life, a special chapel series held each semester, even 30 years later. He enjoyed Men’s Quartet as they traveled from church to church and even recorded an album. He loved leading the Missionary Cabinet.

One day in the lunch line, he met his future wife Joanna for the first time. He did not know she was “the one” right away, but as time went on they grew closer. Their first date was at the Christmas banquet during his sophomore year.

“Crown provided both Joanna and me a great foundation for the decades of ministry that would follow,” says Stumbo.

After obtaining a B.A. in Bible and Theology at Crown, he went on to gain his M.A. in Missiology from Columbia International University. Later, he earned a D.Min. in Leadership in Emerging Culture from George Fox Evangelical Seminary.


Mysterious Illness

After obtaining his B.A. degree, Stumbo went on to become a pastor in the C&MA. He had pastoral roles in different churches, including Salem Alliance Church in Salem, Oregon. He served as a pastor for 25 years, but in an instant his years of ministry came to a stop.

It happened on October 18, 2008. Stumbo went for a jog with some friends for ten miles and then lifted weights afterward. He noticed a rash on his body but did not think much of it.

Then the next morning a flu-like feeling took over him, and each day following he began to lose the ability to move his body the way he had before. In just seven days, he went from running long distances to barely being able to walk. It was then that Stumbo decided to seek medical advice.

After being hospitalized in Salem, he transferred to a research hospital at Oregon Health and Science University. Stumbo had contracted a mysterious disease which took his muscle strength and made it impossible for him to swallow. He was in the hospital for 77 days and nearly died multiple times. It took him two more years of recovery to be able to work again.

After returning to work as an interim pastor at a few churches, Stumbo was given word that the president of the C&MA had decided he did not want to be considered for appointment to a third term. Stumbo was told he had been nominated to become president of the C&MA at this time.

“Picture a guy who two years earlier was in a wheelchair with a feeding tube hanging out of his stomach, and now he has been elected to become president of the denomination,” Stumbo explains. “It was like, well God–I need you. This is cool, but you’re gonna have to come through.”


Becoming President

God gave him confidence and a river of joy to overcome any uncertainties. After the official election process, John Stumbo became the 12th president of the C&MA in June of 2013.

Had he ever envisioned he could become president of the C&MA? Stumbo says that he never tries to look too far into the future.

“I try and do what is before me today, and then let God write the résumé,” he says. “That’s one of my main convictions; we don’t write our résumés. It’s not about doing the right things to climb a ladder to achieve more. That’s worldly stuff. We are on an adventure following the call of God in our life. He leads to places we wouldn’t expect.”

Stumbo constantly felt God stirring in his heart after letting his name stand for the nomination of president. He understood that the role of the C&MA president directly impacts whether the church will remain faithful in following God.

Stumbo also felt a strong call to lead the future generation. “I felt the call as president of the C&MA to help the next generation lean into the church, instead of walking away as too many have,” Stumbo explains. “The kind of values, the kind of spirit, the kind of priorities established in our office either welcomes in future generations or drives them away.”

Stumbo’s story did not stop with a disease. God works in mysterious ways as he makes any circumstance a step toward his plan for your life. John Stumbo is living proof that any situation can lead to a greater calling.

“I am calling the Alliance family again to greater evangelistic intentionality,” he says. “To be intentional about bringing the Gospel to the people around us, and to the people of the world.”