Dan Roelofs, the Baptist minister who moved thousands with his open journey through cancer, died Thursday at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. It was his 33rd birthday.
Roelofs, of Rogers, founded Woodland Community Church in Elk River in 2001. He learned of his cancer in November of that year. Soon after, he began an online journal to record his trials and triumphs as his body fought and eventually gave over to the cancer. In that time, he gave his heart, mind and soul to God.
He wrote that giving up control of his life to God allowed him to face death without fear, anger or bitterness, looking instead to the joy and revelation that awaits him in Heaven.
His best friend, Ross Robinson, a minister from Greenville, S.C., has been maintaining the Web site since Roelofs entered the hospital March 9.
This morning, he wrote: "Dan is with Jesus."
"Sometime between 10:30 and 11:00 this morning, Dan finally saw with his own eyes everything he has believed in and lived for. His mom and dad and Tammy's parents were with him at the time. And he did not struggle. He died very peacefully. He wasn't fighting. He was free.
"I am so happy for Dan."
A year ago, the day after his 32nd birthday, Roelofs wrote:
"One by one, God has been stripping away all the things that I hold onto which are not Him. There was a time when I feared this. But now I am seeing that whenever he takes something away, it is only to give me something better in return.
"His life for mine, his joy exchanged for worldly pleasure. There is something more valuable to be gained here than health, and it is Christ."
Roelofs spread his message around the world, through his church, his treatments, his book, "A Place Called Surrender," and through the many believers who followed his progress, in person and on the Web site. As word of his death spread Thursday, those who admired and loved Roelofs shared their thoughts and prayers for Dan and for his family online.
• "And Jesus said to Dan, 'Well done my good and faithful servant, enter into joy today!' "
• "I know Dan's passing has torn a chunk out of your hearts today . . . forming a very deep wound. I pray that our Savior will fill the void of Dan's existence in each of your lives. God's peace and comfort to every one of you."
• "One of the heroes of the faith went home to be with his Lord today."
• "Happy Birthday, Dan! That must be the best birthday present ever. You can celebrate with God. It would have been nice to celebrate with your family too. May the Lord be with your family in the time of sorrow."
Roelofs is survived by his wife, Tammy; sons Reid and Taylor; parents, Jim and Jan Roelofs of Rock Valley, Iowa; brother, Mark of Annandale, and sister, Rachel Wind of Louisville, Ky.
A visitation will be held Sunday at Maple Grove Evangelical Free Church, 8585 Rice Lake Rd., Osseo. The funeral will be held Monday at the Church of the Open Door, 9060 Zanzibar Ln. N., Maple Grove. Exact times will be announced later on Roelofs' Web site, http://www.caringbridge.org/mn/roelofsreport.
Maria Elena Baca is at firstname.lastname@example.org.