Let Them Love You!
By: Rebecca Holloway
Your husband has stood beside countless bedsides as dear saints have gone home to glory. You have taken food to those who are sick or have had surgery. You have thrown countless baby showers and wedding showers. Your minister husband and you have prayed with many who have serious family needs or are burdened with life’s hardships. You have sent cards and texts when someone needed encouragement. You both have cried with those who wept tears of extreme sorrow or pain.
In ministry, one of our jobs is to be present when someone in our congregation is in need. And often, we receive the blessing from it even when it’s a hard situation. We know we have been right where we were supposed to be, doing exactly what God has called us to.
But what happens when YOU’RE the one in need? What happens when the minister’s family is the one falling apart?
I attended a conference once where a fellow ministers’ wife told a story I would never forget. She said her husband had grown up in a pastor’s family where their philosophy was, “We don’t have needs. Our congregation has needs, but we don’t have needs.”
That whole line of thinking just shocked me. How could anyone, when in the depths of a trial that is beyond themselves, deny that they needed help? Yes, God does promise to help us over and over in scripture (see Isaiah 41:10 for example), and He is flawlessly faithful to His promises. But sometimes that help comes through the hands and feet of His people. The Holy Spirit prompts them, and out of their obedience, they desire to help. And just as helping our church people blesses our ministry family, our church people receive a blessing by helping us. To reject their service is to rob someone of their opportunity to be submissive to Christ.
Since our youngest son, Evan, was born in 2013 with Down’s Syndrome, we as a family have been on the steep learning curve of how to deal with his diagnosis. We spent the first five weeks of his life in the NICU, and at three weeks old, he had major surgery. Our church family was beyond superb to us – bringing us meals, snack food, and some even just gave us money. They allowed Stewart all the time off he needed to be with us in the hospital and did not count that against his vacation time. But after that experience, we pretty much stopped asking for help. We felt like we had already received enough assistance. We just knew Evan was about to start progressing just like any other child and that he was going to just be like every other child his same age.
After two years of this self-sufficient attitude of ours, I started noticing that we weren’t doing too hot on our own. Evan was not progressing as he should. In fact, he started having seizures, so we began walking the road of epilepsy. Even with that, I kept trying to “keep up appearances” that we were okay and didn’t need any help. I could handle this. I could juggle it all – family, church, college ministry, my older son’s activities, Evan’s therapies, Evan’s doctor’s appointments. I didn’t want anyone to notice that we were struggling. I didn’t want to let on that we had needs. I certainly didn’t want anyone to know that I was dying on the inside. The loneliness and anxiety were taking over. I was beginning to feel as if I was drowning.
At lunch, one day, a dear friend of mine who is a counselor and psychology professor astutely noticed that something was wrong with me. She pointed out some things that we needed to do for Evan because he was struggling mightily with seizures, but she also told me, “You are not alone. We are all here for you. Maybe you should start a Facebook prayer page for Evan so we can all know how to pray for him.” Again, my self-sufficient attitude kicked in. I didn’t want to air all our dirty laundry on the Internet. I didn’t want people to think we needed money or special assistance. I didn’t want our church people asking a lot of questions about what was going on. So I resorted to sending an email to a few trusted friends who I knew would pray. Eventually, the Lord lead us to seek further treatment for Evan at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. After that decision was made, I finally started a page called “Prayers for Evan” and used my blog to tell everyone what was going on. The response was more than I could have imagined. People from all over the world began joining the page, and we were assured of prayers for our son by thousands of people.
Little did I know what that page would mean just weeks later.
On Monday, March 20, 2017, Evan almost died due to a rare infection in his upper airway. He was put on a ventilator and sent immediately to the pediatric ICU after we arrived at the ER. We were in desperate need. The most desperate. After calling and texting immediate family and close friends, we posted a very short update on the Prayers for Evan page. Almost as soon as it was posted, we started receiving help. Food. Care for our older son. Text messages. Prayers. Tears. Hugs. One of our nurses happened to be one of my former college students who once babysat both of my boys before she got married and had a baby of her own. She was able to give the PICU Doctor an accurate description of what Evan is like normally so she could treat him in the best way possible. All of these were the very comfort of Christ Himself (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), and the majority of it was from our church family.
Let me tell you this – we would have felt so lost without all the help we received over that week in the hospital shipwrecked. Going without the service of the body of Christ will cost you one of the greatest blessings you could ever experience. After all, that is our job as the body! And it doesn’t just apply to the members; it applies to the ministers as well. Let your church love you, ministry family. Let them minister to you as you minister to them.
Rebecca Holloway is a pastor’s wife and mother of two boys; Zachary, 8, and Evan, 4. When she’s not busy with her boys, Rebecca ministers through the College and the Music Ministries of First Baptist Church Pineville, LA. Weekly, she shares her life experiences and lessons through “The One Minute Blog.” Rebecca holds a Bachelors in Music from Louisiana College and two Masters Degrees in Christian Education and Marriage and Family Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.