Rev. Baskin-Ball, shared her illness with her congregation. When I was a pastor I experienced at least two major illnesses and that makes me appreciate the courage of this pastor even more. While I let the congregation know of my challenges, it was difficult for me to demonstrate the vulnerability that Pastor Baskin-Ball did. It was difficult for me to refer to the diagnosis of a tumor, the removal of which could have left me either blind, speechless or paralyzed as an illness! I had never heard my role models in ministry express doubt or fear, so I figured that 'faithfulness' had something to do with always appearing 'strong'. Now don't get me wrong, there is a place for that. But I now understand better, that it is the sharing of both faithfulness and human frailty that inspires and encourages those in a congregation who face challenges. This woman of God understood this and was brave enough to spend her last days, saying good-bye to members and friends. An amazing woman. An amazing testimony.
A good friend of mine, Pastor E.K. Bailey, the late founder and Senior Pastor of the Concord Church here in Dallas, showed us all a similar grace and courage as he battled the cancer that eventually took his life, in October 2003. A sermon that he preached, 'Farther in and Deeper Down', explored the challenges that he experienced as he discovered a greater devotion to God through the adversity posed by his illness.
Dan Rather, former anchor of CBS Evening News, would end each evenings news broadcast with the word 'courage'. Pastors, Baskin-Ball and Bailey, both demonstrated this word in their lives and deaths. As a country we face very difficult times, that do indeed expose our vulnerability. The challenge is for us to allow them to expose our courage as well.