The Journey Continues:

My journey today takes me back to the witness of two ladies, Lorene Bradberry and Oval King, whom I pastored at my first church in Winters, Texas. They taught me how to be a Christian. Lorene lived by herself and her only son lived in the Fort Worth-Dallas area. Because he was a public servant, his availability to make routine visits to his mom was difficult, therefore, I took her to her doctor’s appointments.

Waiting in the local doctor’s lobby, I was summoned by Dr. Thorpe to come sit with Lorene.

He said, in my presence, to Lorene: “Lorene, you have been diagnosed with AIDS.” Lorene asked me, “Brother Jim, what’s AIDS?” I replied, “It’s not good, Lorene.”

Investigation revealed that years earlier Lorene had had open heart surgery in Baylor Medical Center in Dallas. All evidence pointed towards a contaminated blood transfusion from a carrier of this deadly virus. This happened when AIDS was just starting as an epidemic in America and before blood was tested.

I took her home and prayed with her. Lorene, in a soft voice, said “I forgive him for making me sick.”

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, bawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32

And the long journey began. There were more doctor visits and short stays in the hospital. As the news of Lorene’s illness started to disseminate across the church and small town, there were different responses. Some folks were afraid to drive down the same street where she lived, another was afraid to talk with her on the telephone for fear of catching AIDS. I visited frequently in her home. Ignorance and fear abounded, but did not overcome faithful people. One day I went into Lorene’s kitchen and found a lady washing her dishes, it was Oval King, a friend who lived around the corner and a fellow church member. Being faithful and not afraid, Oval shared her love with Lorene. God met all of Lorene’s needs because Home Health attended her and through friends, like Oval, folks brought food, helped with personal care and cheered her up.

As Lorene weakened, her last days were spent in a medical facility in Arlington, Texas, near her son. I conducted both loving saints’ memorial services – Lorene’s on May 30, 1988 and Oval’s on August 20, 1991. The faith of these two ladies is an example of the faith the church at Sutherland Springs will call on to continue their journey.

San Marcos Daily Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666