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

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (84) misses a catch during the first half of an NFL fo...
Associated Press

Analysis: NFL isn’t passing the eye test on head injuries

What happened in Tampa was the last thing the NFL, its players and its fanbase needed three days after Tua Tagovailoa’s horrifying head injury called into question the league’s commitment to curbing concussions. Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate sat out the second half of Sunday night’s 41-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs with a […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Iran says it launched test ‘tug’ into suborbital space

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian state media said Tuesday the government has launched a space tug capable of shifting satellites between orbits. State TV said the Saman test spacecraft was built by the country’s Space Research Center and launched Monday by the Defense Ministry. Hassan Salarieh, chief of the Islamic Republic’s space agency, told state […]
1 day ago
FILE - A bust of Alfred Nobel on display at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monda...
Associated Press

Nobel panel to announce winner of physics prize

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The winner, or winners, of the Nobel Prize in physics will be announced Tuesday at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. While physicists often tackle problems that appear at first glance to be far removed from everyday concerns — tiny particles and the vast mysteries of space and time — […]
1 day ago
In this undated surveillance image released by the Stockton Police Department, a grainy still image...
Associated Press

Police: 6 California killings may be work of serial killer

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — Ballistics tests have linked the fatal shootings of six men and the wounding of one woman in California — all potentially at the hands of a serial killer — in crimes going back more than a year, police said. Authorities last week announced that five men in Stockton had been slain […]
1 day ago
A currency trader walks by the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left,...
Associated Press

Asian shares rise after ‘relief rally’ on Wall Street

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares rose Tuesday, encouraged by a rally in U.S. shares after some weak economic data raised hopes that the Federal Reserve might ease away from aggressive interest rate hikes. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 2.8% in afternoon trading to 26,959.25. South Korea’s Kospi gained 2.5% to 2,209.98. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped […]
1 day ago
FILE - Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., who is running for reelection, speaks about prescriptio...
Associated Press

Both candidates courting veterans in Nevada Senate race

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Common sense more than any campaign strategy dictated that Adam Laxalt not trumpet his own military service in Nevada’s sometimes-heated Republican Senate primary. After all, the ex-attorney general, who served as a Navy judge advocate general in Iraq, was running against retired Army Capt. Sam Brown, a war hero who was […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

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

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Jill Biden says SC ‘prayer partner’ helped change her life