Robin Jackson, wife of Pastor Charles B. Jackson Sr., who leads Brookland Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina, called First Lady Jill Biden, "a true friend" just over a week after Biden revealed her as the prayer partner who helped restore her faith in God after the death of her stepson, Beau Biden, from brain cancer in 2015.
“I’m glad that God has planned it this way,” Jackson, a former music teacher, told USA TODAY in an interview. “It’s all God that we are able to support each other and be there for each other and be sincere and true sisters.”
The 70-year-old Biden, who is also an educator, told Brookland Baptist Church during an unannounced visit on Oct. 17 that her faith in God was renewed in 2019 after an encounter with Jackson at the church.
"After Beau died, I felt betrayed by my faith, broken. You know, my own pastor wrote emails occasionally, which he was checking in with me, inviting me back to the service. But I just couldn't go. I couldn't even pray. I wondered if I would ever feel joy again," Biden said.
As her husband campaigned to become the next president of the United States in 2019, the journey took them to Brookland Baptist Church. That's when Jill Biden felt like God spoke to her.
"In the summer of 2019, many of you may remember this, Joe and I came to worship here at Brooklyn Baptist Church. And something felt different that morning," she said.
During worship that day, Biden said Jackson sat beside her and offered to be her "prayer partner."
"And I don't know if she sensed how moved I had been by the service. I don't know if she could still see the grief that I'd feel still hides behind my smile. But I do know that when she spoke, it was as if God was saying to me, 'OK, Jill, you've had enough time. It's time to come home,'" Biden recalled.
Jackson told USA TODAY that during the 2019 service, she noticed that both Biden and her husband got emotional. Joe Biden would later explain that the choir “reminds me of my son’s funeral.”
“Somehow I felt that Jill was a little emotional in the in the service, having been there myself, been touched by the music as well as the preaching, I felt compelled to just say to her, ‘Would you mind me being your prayer partner?’” Jackson said.
Since that encounter, the two women remained in touch.
“I would always text her and say that ‘I’m lifting you up in prayer,’” Jackson said. “She would respond back to say to me ‘Thank you, my friend,’ and that just continued.
“After learning about Beau and his death, then I fully understood now what the pain was,” Jackson explained. “My texts would always reflect on knowing that you can get through this and knowing that it will be okay.”