When people hear the word “church,” their mind jumps to the building where people gather on Sunday mornings. But what if the definition of a church isn’t what most people assume? To Laura Bisping and her husband, Joe, the church isn’t a place, but people.
After their daughter, Belle, was born with a very rare condition, the young couple (pictured at right*) had to put their normal lives on pause to give their daughter the care she needs. The treatment needed for Belle costs about $1,000 a day, and her condition requires around-the-clock care, leaving hardly any time for cooking meals and self-care. However, family, friends, coworkers, and church members at their home church of Grace Brethren Church of West Kittanning, Pa. (Larry Edwards, pastor), have rallied around the family to provide them with meals, additional coverage for medical expenses, and support.
For instance, a local school hosts “Bills for Belle” day every Friday, where students can bring a dollar to earn the ability to wear jeans for the day instead of their usual required uniform. All money goes directly to the family to cover medical expenses. This deluge of support given “the church” a much richer meaning – one that puts flesh on the framework of the word. Laura noted in a recent blog post.
“[The Church] showed up as chicken casseroles left on our doorstep and homemade soups filling our freezer. The church came as hospital visits, and people cleaning our home and mowing our grass. The church sat on our floor, playing trains and building blocks with Jonah in the evenings as Joey and I struggled upstairs teaching ourselves to hook up TPN. Our ‘church’ (which consists of many different people from many different home churches) used their personal days to sit at home with me, and they even wrapped our Christmas presents this year! It wasn’t something that just happened on Sunday morning at 10:30.”
Pastor Edwards has been very close to this family during this difficult time and said the couple is strong in their faith. The best help, Edward notes, is prayers and thoughts for the family during this difficult time for them. While Belle will live with her condition the rest of her life, there is hope that it will become more manageable with the right care and vigilance. While this situation is difficult and painful, it has shown the Bispings an element of God’s provision – through his people – that they are compelled to share. You can read more about the Bispings story and find out how you can pray on Laura’s blog. –by Destiny Blake
Destiny Blake is a senior at Grace College from Onekama, Mich. She is an intern at GraceConnect during Spring semester.
*Photo courtesy of Ashley Costanzo Photography
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.