Elk Creek, Virginia)
In the basement of this church, nestled in rolling green hills,
13-year-old Taylor Hale and her grandmother Nancy help important guests
prepare for church.
Taylor Hale, Bear Ministry Volunteer: “Ooh, this looks like a polar
He is a teddy bear, and yes, he’s going to church…along with his fluffy,
stuffed brethren. Each one bears a special message of support.
Taylor Hale, Bear Ministry Volunteer: “It’s combining the love of the
people who gave it to you, and people who are praying for you.”
That message made all the difference for Wayne Johnson, who received a
bear from Taylor after news that he might not live to see another spring
here in Elk Creek, Virginia.
(Volunteer and recipient) “You brought your bear. Yeah, sure did.”
Johnson beat a rare kidney cancer. He came to Mount Zion United Methodist
to thank folks for their prayers and the huggable reminder
that he was never alone in his illness.
Wayne Johnson, Cancer Survivor: “I was literally sitting there dying, I
had a company of coal mines I could not even go run and here come
Taylor. She was so thrilled she had gotten me this bear.”
The bear arrived with a message.
(Reading card on bear) “It has heard the Word read and taught, prayers
prayed, songs of praise sung. It comes to you with prayers for your
comfort, strength and healing.”
(Church service begins) “Good morning!”
Sitting beside 94-year-old Miss Ester, clutched in the arms of a
9-year-old, or perched in pews… these bears will leave this service to
Wayne Johnson, Cancer Survivor: “If their's does one-tenth or one-hundredth
of what mine has for me, there will be people going through life with a different outlook.”
(Church service) “I believe that you have someone in mind. Come forward and
pick up one of these little bears. They’re going to depend upon you to put
them into ministry.”
Wayne Johnson, Cancer Survivor: “Everybody needs hope. This bear is a
hope. It gave me a lot of hope.”
of Mount Zion United Methodist Church has given away between 300 and 500
bears. Not only have the bears touched lives in Virginia, but they have
also been sent to people in other states. If you would like more
information on the bear ministry you can contact Mount Zion Church at
Church gives out prayer bears to struggling people