Thankful for my church family

By Debra Whittington
Religion Columnist

Little did I know the last time I wrote a column that the tables would be turned on me. That morning, I wrote how important it was to care for others and then in a matter of hours I was in the midst of a crisis.

Mark hadn’t felt well for a few weeks and finally went to the doctor. They did a plethora of tests, beginning with checking to make sure his heart was all right. He had trouble breathing and could only go a few feet before having to sit down to rest. This is totally unlike him, as he is a strong man who is always on the go. I felt totally helpless in trying to help him as he went through this trial.

Back to the day of writing my last column, we received a phone call late in the afternoon from the doctor telling Mark to immediately go to the emergency room for a cat scan. The sound of his voice convinced me this was serious and I found myself trying to keep calm as Mark drove us to the hospital.

We were told they suspected blood clots in his lungs as the reason for the additional test. They checked his blood pressure and put a heart monitor on him, preparing him for his test.

As they took him for the test, I found myself totally alone. I called our associate pastor to ask that Mark be put on the prayer chain. He asked who was with me right then. In a cracking voice I replied, “God.” Tears were welling up inside me and I quickly hung up.

In a matter of minutes he was at the ER to sit with me. Even though God was there with me already, it was so comforting to have another Christian there to provide support.

He contacted our pastor who also came to be with us as we waited for the results of the test.

The doctor’s suspicions were confirmed and arrangements were made to send Mark to Amarillo by ambulance because of the danger of the blood clots. Once again, I tried to plan what I would do next which included driving behind the ambulance to Amarillo.

My church family with Mark’s approval once again stepped in to help. They decided it would be better if I waited until the next morning and they would drive me to Amarillo. While I was secretly relieved, I also didn’t want to be a burden to anyone.

As the ambulance was ready to pull away, two other friends from church were there to lend their support. They drove Mark’s pickup and took me home, making sure I was settled in for the night.

The next day, the pastor and his wife took me to Amarillo. Mark got the care he needed to begin dissolving the blood clot. Friends took turns taking care of our dogs so I could stay with Mark. Other friends from church came to bring us home. The phone seemed to ring non-stop as a number of people called to check on Mark.

In church the next Sunday, there was an outpouring of care and concern for Mark. While he still has a long way to go before the clots are dissolved, he is feeling much stronger.

I learned two very valuable lessons during that time. The first one is that even though we know God is always with us, there is nothing like our church family and friends to be with you in a crisis. The second lesson was to quit thinking of myself as a burden. These people ministered to us because the cared, not because they had to.

Being part of a church family is such a comfort and joy because we all have one thing in common, Jesus Christ is our savior. We built these relationships over a matter of years that has bonded us into a family. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12 we read, “Two are better than one … if either of them falls down, one can help the other up … A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Debra Whittington is a longtime resident of Tucumcari. Contact her at:

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