Jill Biden says SC ‘prayer partner’ helped change her life

Oct 17, 2021, 9:37 PM | Updated: Oct 18, 2021, 3:07 pm

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — For years, Jill Biden couldn’t bring herself to pray, her faith shattered by the 2015 death of her son Beau from brain cancer at age 46. She felt “betrayed, broken.”

Then a face in the crowd at one of her husband’s stops in 2019 as he campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination would, in her words, change her life.

Robin Jackson, wife of the pastor at Brookland Baptist Church in South Carolina, offered to be Jill Biden’s “prayer partner” when the Bidens worshipped at the church.

Thus began a relationship that the first lady said had helped “shape my life.”

Jill Biden talked about her South Carolina friend as recently as February of this year, but always without naming her. On Sunday, she returned to Brookland Baptist to help celebrate Pastor Charles B. Jackson Sr.’s 50th year of service and laid out in emotional detail how his wife had helped her reclaim her faith.

“I’m sorry if you’ve heard it before but I’d like to share it again,” she said before retelling the story.

The first lady doesn’t usually speak publicly about her faith but said Sunday that “it’s always been an important part of who I am.” She recalled being a teenager who “fell in love with the peace of the quiet wooden pew,” the “joy of the choir” and the “deep wisdom of the Gospels.”

She said prayer helps her “connect to the people that I love and to the world around me.”

“But in 2015, my faith was shaken,” the first lady said, her voice breaking as she described watching “my brave, strong, funny, bright young son fight brain cancer.”

“Still, I never gave up hope,” she said. “Despite what the doctor said, I believed that my son would make it. In the final days, I made one last, desperate prayer and it went unanswered.”

She didn’t understand how Beau could die. She grew angry, then distant from God.

“I felt betrayed by my faith, broken,” the first lady said, her voice quivering. Her own pastor emailed occasionally to check in and invite her back to service “but I just couldn’t go. I couldn’t even pray. I wondered if I would ever feel joy again.”

Then she accompanied her husband, Joe, to Brookland Baptist on May 5, 2019.

“Something felt different that morning,” the first lady said. She described how Robin Jackson came to sit beside her and ask to be her “prayer partner.”

“And I don’t know if she sensed how moved I had been by the service,” Jill Biden said. “I don’t know if she could still see the grief that I feel still hides behind my smile.”

“But I do know that when she spoke it was as if God was saying to me, ‘OK, Jill. You had enough time. It’s time to come home,'” she said. “And in that moment, I felt for the first time that there was a path for my recovering my faith.”

The first lady said Robin Jackson’s “kindness, mercy and grace pushed past the callouses on my heart and, like the mustard seed, my faith was able to grow again.” She said it reminded her that what was at stake was not an election or a partisan battle, but a country in need of healing.

“This church changed my life,” she said to applause.

The pastor’s son, the Rev. Charles B. Jackson Jr., said that his mother began texting prayerful reminders to Jill Biden a few days after they met. The first lady returned the texts.

“This would continue on all the way till today,” Jackson Jr. said.

Jill Biden said earlier this year the relationship with Robin Jackson had made a difference in her life.

“It really helped me find my faith again,” she said on Kelly Clarkson’s daytime talk show.

She occasionally accompanies the president, a devout Catholic, to Mass and was with him Saturday when he worshipped at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington.

Her role in celebrating the pastor’s 50th anniversary was a surprise for Robin Jackson in keeping with the first lady’s reputation for doing thoughtful things for people she cares about. Jackson Jr. said his mother did not know the first lady would participate in the celebration.

“It took everything in us to keep it from her,” Jackson Jr. said.

The White House did not publicly announce Sunday’s trip and the first lady flew, apparently by coincidence, on an unmarked D.C. Air National Guard airplane.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Egyptian Central Bank Governor Tarek Amer speaks during a press conference at the Central Ba...
Associated Press

Egypt appoints central bank caretaker chief amid crisis

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s president on Thursday appointed a caretaker governor of the central bank, the president’s office said, a day after the bank’s chief resigned amid a grinding economic crisis triggered by Russia’s war on Ukraine. According to a statement, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi named Hassan Abdullah to succeed Tarek Amer, who had held […]
7 hours ago
This photo shows the garden of Kyle Good and Gerald Singer in Garrison, N.Y. on Aug. 8, 2022. The c...
Associated Press

For hire or food, garden sitters save the day during summer

NEW YORK (AP) — Take my chard, please! The season has come when many home gardeners, their numbers booming since the pandemic began, are being rewarded with fully matured, ready-to-pick vegetables and flowers. It’s also vacation season, and this summer travel is back. How do you maintain your garden and take advantage of all that […]
7 hours ago
The receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at for...
Associated Press

Media to ask judge to release Trump search warrant affidavit

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Attorneys for many of the nation’s largest media companies will try to persuade a federal magistrate judge on Thursday afternoon to make public the affidavit supporting the warrant that allowed FBI agents to search former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate last week. The Associated Press, The New York Times, […]
7 hours ago
Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren talks to reporters during an NCAA college football news conferenc...
Associated Press

B1G deal: Big Ten lands $7 billion, NFL-style TV contracts

The Big Ten’s new $7 billion media rights deal will string the conference’s top football games across three major networks each week, creating an NFL-style television schedule on Saturdays. The Big Ten announced Thursday it has reached seven-year agreements with Fox, CBS and NBC to share the rights to the conference’s football and basketball games. […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Dubai court finds mishandled peroxide caused 2021 port blast

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A Dubai court has found that a cargo ship’s mishandled peroxide caused an explosion at the city-state’s busy Jebel Ali port in 2021, a blast that was felt through the emirate, a state-linked newspaper reported Thursday. The Dubai Misdemeanor Court sentenced five crew members on board the vessel to […]
7 hours ago
FILE- An Emirates Boeing 777 stands at the gate at Dubai International Airport as another prepares ...
Associated Press

Emirates to suspend Nigeria flights over blocked funds

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Emirates airline will suspend all flights to Nigeria from September 1 because the West African country has failed to repatriate millions of dollars of its funds, the Dubai-based airline announced on Thursday. The airline — which has been battling to repatriate its millions of dollars in revenue from Nigeria — said […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Jill Biden says SC ‘prayer partner’ helped change her life