Jimmy Bailey–When The Church “Bears One Another’s Burdens”

A few months later, my son James woke up on a Sunday morning with a mild fever. I took his siblings to church, and my wife, Beth, stayed home to care for him. By the time we returned, his fever had spiked severely and his heart rate was high enough for the urgent care center to refer us to the emergency room. The E.R. physicians determined it was serious enough for him to be admitted overnight, and I was scared. Within a matter of hours, however, our church family was bearing this burden with us. We heard from four members of the clergy, including Jeff and his wife, Kristin. I vividly remember sitting in my car at the MUSC parking garage praying over the phone with Marc Boutan, and feeling so comforted by his words and support. Our phones were lighting up with text messages, emails, calls, and social media notifications from our church family, who were bearing this burden with us and lifting us in prayer. I remember a non-St. Philip’s friend saying, “You have a great hospital and friends who pray for you––that’s a great team.” James quickly returned to good health.

Later in the year, I began to suffer from a mysterious illness with symptoms that eluded diagnosis for a long 87 days. The physical pain ebbed and flowed, but the uncertainty was constant and taxed me mentally. I tried to keep this situation under wraps, mainly because I didn’t want my children to worry. However, solutions continued to elude my medical team and I couldn’t bear this burden alone.

I looked to my church family for help, and St. Philip’s wrapped its arms around me and hugged tight. The men in my Bible study prayed for me and checked in constantly. Every member of our clergy prayed with me. Hundreds of you prayed for me in your own Bible studies. Occasionally, total strangers introduced themselves and said they learned about my situation during prayer requests at a Bible study, and wanted me to know they were praying for me, too. During a December service (I think Christmas Eve), while serving communion, Martha Vetter leaned down, took some extra time, and prayed vigorously for me, my family, my doctors, and for healing. My eyes filled with tears of appreciation for this love and compassion, and for her willingness to bear my burden with me, along with so many of you.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care