Tag: medical

One church’s ‘compassionate and Christ-like’ approach to the opioid crisis

One church’s ‘compassionate and Christ-like’ approach to the opioid crisis

Amid national drug epidemic, Connecticut’s largest congregation joins its community’s fight.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

Connecticut’s opioid crisis — part of a national epidemic — claimed more than 900 lives last year.

“That is about three times more than the number who will die in car accidents and about six times more than will die from gun violence,” said Deirdre Daly, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut.

The overdose epidemic — linked to the illicit drug heroin and prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone and fentanyl — spurred the Constitution State’s largest Church of Christ to organize a recent community forum, which drew about 140 attendees.

The 250-member Manchester congregation sponsored the event in cooperation with Marc Montminy, police chief in the suburb 10 miles east of the state capital of Hartford, and Sarah Howroyd, who overcame her own struggle with drug addiction.

Montminy and Howroyd co-founded a community-based program called the HOPE Initiative. HOPE stands for “heroin/opioid prevention and education.”

Patrick Barber serves as pulpit minister for the Manchester church, which is perhaps best known for hosting the annual New England Church Growth Conference.

In an interview with The Christian Chronicle, Barber discussed the opioid crisis and the church’s role in fighting it.

Read the full interview.

Other recent quick-hit stories by me:

Deadly twisters, serving hearts: After East Texas storm, the Clemons family blesses victims with love — and lots of meat.

• Georgia ministry featured in Charles Barkley’s ‘American Race’ documentary series: The NBA analyst and Hall of Fame player visits the Corners Outreach homework club to discuss illegal immigration.

• Video: Love Lights the Way plants gospel seeds in Liberia: Ministry started by refugees in Rhode Island launches the Lighthouse Village Church of Christ.

These stories appear in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.


A favorite aunt has lived a full life; now she battles Alzheimer’s

A favorite aunt has lived a full life; now she battles Alzheimer’s

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

ALLEN, Texas — Aunt Melba has no idea who Harold Tidwell is, but he loves her.

He loves her from deep in his soul. He cherishes her as if she were his own mother — a role she fulfilled for him and Gail Tidwell, his wife of nearly 50 years, after their parents died.

Harold Tidwell, 78, is an elder of the Greenville Oaks Church of Christ in this fast-growing suburb north of Dallas.

Never has he known life without Aunt Melba.

At age 97, Melba Warrach is frail and suffers from an advanced form of Alzheimer’s disease.

She resides in the Bluebonnet Memory Care unit at Christian Care Centers’ newest senior living community, which opened last year.

The Greenville Oaks church donated five acres for the Allen facility. It’s the faith-based nonprofit’s third location in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The others are in Mesquite, east of Dallas, and Fort Worth.

“Do you know who I am?” Harold Tidwell asks after hugging Aunt Melba on a recent afternoon.

“Art?” she replies.

The late Art Haddox directed the Herald of Truth television ministry in Abilene, Texas. He was one of Aunt Melba’s four brothers — all of whom served in World War II.

Read the full story.

Related story: Music for the soul: Gospel songs still resonate with dementia patients (reporting from Mesquite, Texas).

These stories appear in the May 2017 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Faith helped baseball coach Tony Beasley beat cancer

Faith helped baseball coach Tony Beasley beat cancer

Texas Rangers’ ‘inspiration’ sings the national anthem on Opening Day.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | For Religion News Service

ARLINGTON, Texas (RNS) Tony Beasley never lost faith, even when he was diagnosed with cancer.

“It’s been an opportunity for me to be who I said I am,” said Beasley, the third base coach for the Texas Rangers. “My favorite verse is 2 Corinthians 5:7: ‘For we walk by faith, not by sight.’ To have an opportunity to actually live that out was a blessing.”

With a giant U.S. flag unfurled in the outfield grass and a sellout crowd of 48,350 standing to honor America, all attention centered on Beasley this week (April 3) as he returned full time to the game he loves after a year spent battling rectal cancer.

“An inspiration to us all” is how longtime Rangers public address announcer Chuck Morgan introduced the 50-year-old coach, who was invited to sing the national anthem on Opening Day.

“You can ask anybody in here just how big an impact Beasley has on everybody as far as his faith and his attitude — it’s just contagious,” outfielder Delino DeShields told a reporter in the Rangers’ clubhouse at Globe Life Park. “Even last year, he came in with a smile on his face and always had positive words.”

Under blue skies on a 76-degree night, Beasley offered a soulful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” — and couldn’t help but reflect on his emotional journey of the past year.

“I actually closed my eyes when I sang, just to keep in rhythm with the beat and to block out the delay,” the coach said. “But it was an honor. It was a blessing.

“This time last year, I was undergoing chemotherapy,” added Beasley, who received his cancer diagnosis in January 2016, “and to be able to be back at full capacity, I just thank God for that.”

Read the rest of the story.

Religion News Service is a national wire service with more than 100 secular and religious media subscribers, including USA Today, the Washington Post and NPR.

He pitches with heart — a brand new one

He pitches with heart — a brand new one

Kansas high school senior calls life-saving transplant “an absolute gift from God.”

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

GODDARD, Kan. — It’s a picture-perfect afternoon for baseball as Josh Oakley steps to the mound: blue sky, soft breeze and 71 degrees.

Fifteen family members — two parents, four grandparents, three of Oakley’s five older sisters and six nieces and nephews — cheer as the high school senior delivers his first pitch.

The Eisenhower Tiger’s white-and-baby-blue jersey — with No. 10 on the back — covers a footlong scar down his chest.

That scar helps explain what makes this start so remarkable: Less than six months earlier, Darrell and DeVona Oakley’s youngest child — their only son — received a new heart.

“It’s an absolute gift from God to still be able to play this game,” said Josh Oakley, 18, a member of the Northside Church of Christ in Wichita, about 15 miles east of this suburban community of 4,600.

When the Kansas City Royals began their World Series-winning postseason run this past October, Josh Oakley lay unconscious at Children’s Mercy Hospital in that same Missouri city.

His family feared they just might lose him.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the June 2016 edition of The Christian Chronicle.

When you took in a stranger: Mayo Clinic ministry has housed thousands


When you took in a stranger (reporting from Rochester, Minn.): Ministry that houses Mayo Clinic patients and their loved ones has cared for thousands.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Creaky stairs.

Wooden floors.

To Lee Jamieson Sr., the old house down the street from the Mayo Clinic feels like home.

“It reminds me of my grandparents’ house,” said Jamieson, minister for the Timberlane Church of Christ in Tallahassee, Fla. “It’s got character.”

Snow coats the driveway as the preacher and his 19-year-old son, Lee Jr. — who paralyzed his right arm in a skiing accident — carry their luggage once again into the “House of Compassion.”

Built in 1921, the three-level dwelling is part of a ministry that has provided soft beds and warm hugs to thousands of Mayo patients and their loved ones.

The ministry, called Hands of Compassion because it involves more than housing, grew out of Rochester Church of Christ members opening their own bedrooms and basements to frequent out-of-state visitors.

“Members were taking random strangers into their houses just because they happened to be sick and going to the Mayo Clinic,” said Phillip Quelle, full-time chaplain for Hands of Compassion. “They were doing this week in and week out, over and over and over again.”

This story appears in the April 2016 edition of The Christian Chronicle.

From daughter to caretaker

From daughter to caretaker

Role reversal draws one woman closer to her parents — and to God. 

First Place, Feature Article, Associated Church Press

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

SYLACAUGA, Ala. — The little girl tugged at her father’s leg.

“Don’t go, Daddy,” she begged. “Don’t go.”

Jack Zorn — known to generations in Churches of Christ as “The Man in the Red Jacket” who founded the Lads to Leaders program — was leaving to speak at a church in another state. His daughter Rhonda wanted him to stay home and play.

“Dad sat in the floor and explained his commitment to the church and supporting his family,” Rhonda Fernandez recalled. “He said, ‘Rhonda, you don’t want me to disappoint all those people expecting me and not do my work, do you?’”

Decades later, Fernandez, now 53, found her role reversed as she explained to her parents — who entered hospice care a year ago — that she had to go home to Orlando, Fla., after six weeks at their central Alabama home.

Jack Zorn, 81, is mostly blind, has hearing difficulties, battles regular strokes and sleeps between 20 and 21 hours a day. Besides that, he has an arthritic hip that causes severe pain.

Frances Zorn, 79, suffers from heart problems and dementia. The extent of her memory loss fluctuates from day to day.

Both Zorns were in a serious car wreck in 2009 that exacerbated their health concerns.

“I needed to go home to my job, my dog, my own kitchen, my church family and, most of all, my precious husband, Halo,” said Fernandez, a member of the Concord Street Church of Christ.

But when Fernandez broke the news that she was flying home the next day, her mother wept and said she couldn’t sleep if Rhonda weren’t there. Her father assured her Halo would understand if she stayed just a little longer. Get him on the phone, Jack Zorn urged.

Read the full story.


“My Church of Christ Mother Teresa,” daughter says of caregiver

These stories appear in the January 2016 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

‘He’s with me, and he’s fighting’


‘He’s with me, and he’s fighting’ (reporting from Atlanta): Brain-injury victim’s wife and parents pray for healing, while trusting in God’s will. 

ATLANTA — Raindrops tap the roof of Hayley Waldron’s temporary home in an Atlanta suburb.

It is Day 87, she realizes as she opens her eyes. Nearly three months have passed since tragedy interrupted the 22-year-old’s life and that of her 23-year-old husband, Harrison.

Please, God, she begs. Let today be the day he wakes up and begins his full recovery.

Hayley dresses, grabs a quick bite to eat and sets off on the 25-minute drive to the Shepherd Center, a rehabilitation hospital dedicated to caring for those with brain and spinal injuries.

For the next six hours, she’ll sit with her husband. When possible, she’ll assist with Harrison’s speech, occupational and physical therapy.

They might watch The Weather Channel or the news together. Perhaps his younger sister, Laura, will come by to read the Bible to him, or their parents may visit to hug Hayley and speak softly to Harrison.

“I’m so thankful that I still have him,” she said, “that I can come talk to him and hang out with him still.”

This story appears in the December 2015 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.