A recently married Texas pastor who welcomed a newborn son with his wife just four months ago is now struggling to restart his life after publicly disclosing that he grappled with a coronavirus infection for several weeks that led to his church being emptied and his day job as a car salesman coming to an abrupt end.
Eli Jacobs, 51, who is senior pastor of Resurrection Body of Christ Church in Dallas, Texas, told The Christian Post in an interview Tuesday that he’s grateful to be alive after his five week bout with the coronavirus, which led to him being hospitalized for two weeks after he began struggling to breathe, but dealing with the aftermath has been a challenge.
Jacobs’ battle with the virus began in late March when he first noticed he had developed a rash on his hands while he was at work selling cars.
“They don’t mention about the rash but you start breaking out with rash and I know that my hands, by me taking care of it, I know it was something new,” he said, noting how he had speculated the rash might have been due to high blood pressure or some type of chronic illness. “I just know all my skin was breaking out. The skin was peeling off.”
As time went by, Jacobs said he started getting tired easily and couldn’t get up in the mornings. He would eventually talk with his wife about his symptoms and they decided to get tested for the virus, and his results came back positive.
He tried to treat himself at home but he developed a fever that lasted for four days. He began losing the taste in his mouth and started struggling to breathe.
“My breathing was not normal like it used to be,” he said. “You know how somebody put their hands over your mouth and nose for a minute and let it go? That’s how it felt.”
Jacobs said his wife would eventually take him to two separate hospitals to get care for his infection.
“I felt weak. I felt like I wanted to lay down all the time. I went into the hospital. The first hospital they really didn’t do too much. They gave me an IV, kept me in the hospital and tried to get my temperature down,” he said.
His wife would later move him to a different hospital which he said was mentally taxing as he worried about death.
“Mentally, when I was going through the COVID, you think about dying. You could do a whole lot of thinking on that bed, I’m just going to be honest. You start thinking about everything. I was thinking about I just had a baby, just got married, and I didn’t want to leave them behind. That was my thought. I got a church and nobody knows I’m in this hospital. All alone, you have to fight it mentally because they don’t let nobody go in with you,” he said.
“I think that stress can take a toll on your body. I just really believe that. I had difficulty sleeping and I think it has an effect on your mind that causes your body not to fully function like it can. ... When you think about dying it’s hard to sleep,” he said.
At the time of his hospitalization, scores of black and Hispanic pastors were dying from the new coronavirus along with many others from minority communities.
He said after his release from the hospital he did an interview with Fox 4 to educate members of his community about the virus.
As people learned that he was infected, however, Jacobs said people started to avoid him.
“When I got home I tried to go get a haircut. They saw me on the news and everybody start to act like, 'Well, I can’t take the risk. I got kids at the house,’” he said.
Jacobs noted that he also spoke with pastoral colleagues and invited them to come pray for his 100-member church but the pastors turned him down too.
“People acted out of fear,” he said. “I was getting text messages from people saying, ‘Do you still believe in Jesus now?’ You know, people just being mean.”
The father of two said most members of his congregation have also given up on in-person services.
“A lot of people called and said, ‘Bishop, we love you but for our family’s sake we want to kinda stay away from church for a minute.’ And I kind of respect that,” he said.
Although he respects the decision of his congregants and everyone that has tried to be safe by avoiding contact with him, Jacobs says he sometimes regrets publicly sharing his coronavirus diagnosis.
“I was trying to help people but it kinda hit me back in the face,” he said.
Jacobs said as a result of his diagnosis he lost his job as a car salesman and is now looking for a new one.
“They were telling me I couldn’t come back to work right now,” he said of his former employer.
Jacobs said he only recently found out how to apply for unemployment too. Despite having a wife and young child, he said he's the only person in his household who has received a $1,200 stimulus check so far.
He also recently received an eviction noticed he shared with CP for at least two months of unpaid rent.
“My biggest concern, financially we are struggling. By being on the news it kinda really got out there,” he said.
Despite his concerns, Jacobs said he is trusting God the same way he did when he was hospitalized with the coronavirus.
“I said Lord, I know you can heal me but I can’t lay in this bed,” he recalled telling God before he was finally released from the hospital. “How we gon’ get money? We just walking by faith.”
Those wanting to reach out to Pastor Eli Jacobs can contact him on Facebook.