Supporting young cancer patients draws Bethany congregation together

Published 11:50 am Saturday, May 3, 2014

In recent months, the illnesses of two young members have served both to draw members of Bethany Baptist Church’s congregation together, and taught them more about a central part of Christianity.

Eighteen-year-old Megan Kelley has been battling Ewing’s Sarcoma, while 21-year-old Bailey Byrd is battling juvenile granulosa cell tumor, a very rare form of ovarian cancer.

“No pastor in America would raise his hand and say, ‘Lord would you allow two of the youngest people in the church to go through excruciating cancer and let everybody else watch,’ ” Bethany pastor Josh Wilson said.

But the congregation has learned from their suffering, he said.

“It has opened the congregation’s eyes to needs – emotionally, physically, and financially. They have rallied around these families and worked with them each step of the way.”

The congregation has held fundraisers, and have held a special Sunday for each of them, once when members wore teal in support of Byrd’s fight against ovarian cancer and this past week when they work yellow for Kelley’s fight.

But it also has been more, Wilson said.

“There have been countless times of prayers held in the middle of our services, when we would lay hands on these girls,” he said. “This cancer has drawn them closer to these families, to one another, and to the Lord.”

It’s like finding beauty in the ashes, he said.

“When you have that going on in your congregation, it can become the center piece, the focal point on everybody’s mind, and everybody’s heart,” Wilson said. “But other members have their own sufferings and struggles and also need compassion and love an d concern.

“I was visiting somebody in the hospital one day who was about to have heart surgery. He said, ‘Hey, listen. What I’m going through pales in comparison to Bailey and Meagan,’ ” Wilson recalled. “But it was still serious and still suffering.

“The center of Christ’s life was His suffering on cross. What you are going through may be relative in the intensity of it, but your suffering is still suffering,” Wilson said. “Putting it in perspective, in a relative way, it’s what these two girls are going through.”

Byrd returned to Houston this week for another round of treatments. Kelley completed her chemotherapy and had clear scans this week, but will begin radiation soon.