Scant Hope for Survival
Any parent would be devastated after hearing a physician announce, “There is no hope for your new baby, it’s best to put him away in an institution.”
But Carol and Earl Ross faced such a dire prognosis after their son Dorsey was born with Apert syndrome in 1977. Instead of heeding the physician’s advice, they trusted God.
Apert syndrome is a severe genetic disorder characterized by malformations of the skull, hands, and feet. The forehead is pushed outward and the face and nose are pushed inward. Fingers and toes are fused together. Brain growth is restricted causing increased pressure, requiring immediate surgery.
A compassionate nurse recommended another hospital. The second opinion of the faith-based couple resulted in a risky but successful surgical procedure, allowing Dorsey’s brain to grow normally.
Today at 42, Ross preaches the gospel nationwide as an Assemblies of God national evangelist based in Lindenhurst, New York.
“Doctors told my parents I would be a vegetable or never live past the age of 18,” he says. “They were wrong because God had a different plan for my life.”
Ross has faced many challenges. He endured 68 surgeries from infancy through his mid-teens, including procedures to reconstruct his face and separate his fingers. Children and teenagers have bullied him, laughing and jeering with epithets such as, “You monster! You freak!” Their cruelty hurt deeply.
He found solace and support attending Bethlehem Church in Richmond Hill, New York, where he invited Christ into his heart at age 13. He joined the youth group and felt accepted, which helped him grow in faith.
At the age of 5, he began attending the Henry Viscardi School for children with severe disabilities in Albertson, New York. He persevered and graduated from high school at 19. Even when a teacher told his mother not to expect any further academic progress, his grit prevailed.
“I would not allow stopping or hindering what God wanted for me,” he says.
Ross went on to graduate from Queens Borough Community College in Bayside, New York, with an associate degree in liberal arts. He joined the U.S. Missions Chi Alpha Campus Ministries group. Kevin D. Bateman, currently associate pastor of Bellerose Assembly of God in New York, befriended him.
“I remember Dorsey sharing responsibilities in the Chi Alpha club, giving out meeting flyers, helping with set-ups, and participating in worship, devotions, and discussions,” says Bateman, 43.
Sustaining God’s call to ministry, Ross enrolled at the University of Valley Forge in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in youth ministry in 2005. He interviewed for positions as a youth pastor, but nothing worked out. His disability impacted permanent job offers.
Since 2009, Ross has traveled by plane or driven to meetings. His only limitations are an inability to lift his arms high and a minor speech impediment. He speaks at churches, youth rallies, revival services, camps, conventions, and retreats, doing about 30 engagements annually.
“If God can use someone like me, He can use anybody,” Ross says.
In September he returned to minister at Grace Chapel Assembly of God in Sayville, New York.
“People respond well to Dorsey’s testimony,” says senior pastor Philip J. Cali, 66. “He is very real and encourages others to overcome their disabilities and he has.”
Ross still gets frustrated when people stare at him or teenagers point at him and make rude comments. He tries ignoring these insults and admits it’s sometimes difficult to show love and grace.
“But God reminds me that I am His masterpiece,” he says. “It only matters what God thinks about me.”