Pastor, church walk alongside each other in time of healing

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

At first Blair McBride wasn’t sure why God called him from his church in Florida to be associate pastor of Antioch East Baptist Church, Greenville. McBride just knew He had.

But he would soon find out both he and the church had a big need for healing coming in their future — and God saw fit for them to walk through that together.

“It’s helped me to see how big God is,” he said.

McBride hadn’t been at Antioch East very long when some things happened in the body of the church and suddenly in December 2018 he was the only staff member left.

“It was quite a difficult time for the church,” he said.

But an even bigger surprise came two weeks later. He discovered that something was happening in his own body — it was attacking itself. And within 36 hours the 37 year old was paralyzed from the chest down.

“I deteriorated really quickly,” McBride said.

It took two and a half “dark” weeks for doctors to figure out what he had — a cousin disease to multiple sclerosis called Anti-Mog associated disease, which had caused transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spine. While he lay in the hospital, his wife, Nicole, also was caring for their new baby and the church was moving on with no staff.

And all the while they ministered to McBride’s family.

“It’s humbling,” he said. “God has been good and the church has been good to us.”

As he went through weeks of rehab to learn how to live in a wheelchair he began to get some feeling back in his feet and legs — something that only happens to two thirds of transverse myelitis patients and rarely in such a short period of time.

“It was amazing but I was still just so weak,” McBride said, and because of that the church moved his family into the pastorium, a one-level house.

Not only that — they asked him to be their pastor. 

“It’s been a leap of faith for both parties to trust that God is at work in this,” McBride said.

He’s learned to walk again and slowly the church also has begun to heal. But no one can predict when or if his disease will flare up again — it’s rare and doctors don’t know enough about it to be able to guess. If it does come back it could attack something other than his spine. If it attacks his eyes, he could go blind and if it attacks his brain, he could lose cognitive function.

Damont Drake, pastor of Eden Baptist Church, Brooksville, Florida, — the church where McBride previously served as associate pastor — said it’s an amazing story of a young man trusting God during a tough situation.

‘Perfect plan’

“He gives God glory for everything,” Drake said.

McBride said God is calling him and the church to trust Him and move forward.

“My plan is to be here as long as God wants me to be here,” he said. “It’s a complicated situation, but God is good and He’s begun to heal me and this church. We’re here and we’re trusting the Lord that His plan is perfect and better than our plan.”