A pastor’s journey through COVID-19


COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – A Columbus pastor returns to the pulpit after testing positive, then negative for COVID-19.

Jimmy Elder, the pastor of First Baptist Church, sat down with WRBL News 3’s Phil Scoggins to first of all let the community know he’s okay, and also to talk about his journey.

Elder didn’t have symptoms of the virus and didn’t know he had contracted it. “I was shocked because I had no idea, because I was asymptomatic,” says Elder.

Following a quarantine, Elder returned to the pulpit this past Sunday to resume live streaming his weekly message. The sanctuary was empty except for three gifted musicians, the tech crew, and as Jimmy would say, the spirit of the Lord.

During Sunday’s service Elder shared from his heart about his journey facing COVID-19. He had just spent two weeks in quarantine at home after testing positive on May 29th.

Someone else at the church had been diagnosed with the virus and that prompted Elder to get a test himself, fearing he might expose someone. “I felt I needed to be checked just in case, because I’m around so many people,” says Elder.

Following the positive test, Elder swiftly jumped into action to alert people who may have been exposed. “I started doing a quick assessment of all the people I’d been around, and
tried to get in touch with them as quickly as I could,” says Elder, “I did not want to have done something to somebody else, and I think that’s been one of the most under-rated parts of this.”

While in quarantine, Elder was deeply concerned about the possibility that someone else might have gotten sick from the virus. “There’s a lot of fear there, and so you end up with a little depression, and you end up with a little frustration, and you end up with a lot of fear for others.”

“I had people who called and said, okay Jimmy, I got tested and we’re negative,” says Elder” I had tears when they called because that was far more important to me than me getting my negative back.”

“From the 29th when I was tested to the 4th when I was tested again, I went from being positive to negative in that short a period of time. I’m the lucky one. I’m a very fortunate, blessed person when it comes to that.”

In looking back over this tumultuous time, Elder says a sweet benefit was the amount of time you have alone with God. “When you’re at a point when you’re desperate, you don’t want something to come back bad, you don’t want something to explode into a problem,”says Elder. “When those moments come, you find yourself literally before the Lord with tears and prayers and begging him for the help and the peace that you need, and he was faithful, completely faithful.”

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