Bethel Baptist rallies around Dean family

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comFebruary 19, 2013 

— Elijah Dean’s story, his parents say, will be one with a happy ending. This isn’t stopping his church family from helping their newest addition and his parents in getting there.

Bethel Baptist Church will sell $8 barbecue plates for Elijah from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 1. They’ll deliver free to businesses nearby. Pastor Bart Plaxco hopes to help put a dent in the mounting cost of more than a month in the hospital for the Deans.

“He was born the first of December, but had to spend about six weeks in the hospital with several surgeries,” Plaxco said of Elijah, son of the church’s youth minister Jeromy Dean and wife Amanda. “We are trying to help them with some of the hospital bills.”

The Deans arrived at Bethel in early 2011, Jeromy teaching at Clover High School and Amanda working in several roles at a Fort Mill church. Jeromy remains bi-vocational, meaning he teaches social studies and an elective on Biblical literature at the high school while serving as youth pastor at Bethel. Their daughter, Lillian, is 2 years old.

Almost a year ago, the family learned Elijah was on the way. Then, 19 weeks into the pregnancy, doctors discovered a congenital diaphragmatic hernia that impacts the formation of the diaphragm and lungs, and the placement of the stomach. Doctors monitored Elijah throughout the pregnancy. He was born Dec. 3.

Surgery was required at Levine Children’s Hospital. In an update letter to friends and family, Amanda wrote of the next few days as “a bit scary.” Constant medication, oxygen tubes and lung pressure were concerns heading into surgery at nine days old. The surgery was successful, but it left Elijah so tired and hoarse, “he couldn’t muster a cry,” his mother wrote.

Elijah’s inability to eat enough led to a second surgery to install a feeding tube. It wasn’t until Jan. 18 that he was able to come home.

“Through this difficulty we have only come to know God is truly sovereign, and He loves us so much,” Amanda wrote. “God has been evident through each moment, and we know He used family and friends to help us through.”

The Deans are thankful it appears much of the difficulty is behind them. They’re also thankful so many people are showing care and concern.

“We are very appreciative and overwhelmed for the support and help from Bethel Baptist Church, the community, and others,” he said. “Everyone has truly shown us the love of Christ through their generosity.”

Days are “slow and difficult” as the family tries to get Elijah to take a bottle, and he tires easily. But their faith is strong. Jeromy came to Bethel with a love for children and in hopes of helping them grow their faith.

“We know Elijah will be fine,” Jeromy said. “God has already demonstrated His love for our family through the time Elijah was in the hospital.”

Want to go?

Bethel Baptist Church, 6031 Charlotte Hwy., will sell barbecue plates from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 1. Plates cost $8, dine in or take out. Local delivery available. For more information, visit www.visitbethel.org.

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