A beloved youth pastor who died Monday at age 36 from flu complications after lamenting having gotten the flu shot had suffered two strokes four years ago and battled other health issues in recent years, her pastor revealed at her memorial service Thursday.
The youth pastor, Allison Williams, who was employed by Reddington Christian Church in Seymour, Indiana, from 2008 until her death, repeatedly asked to step down from her role when she faced bouts of serious health issues, the church’s Senior Pastor Scott Brown said.
“About four years ago when she had two strokes, how difficult of a time do you think that was for her? It was profoundly difficult for her. Profoundly difficult for her. She kept telling me after that time period when she was still healing, she kept telling me, she said, ‘You need to find a new youth minister. You need to find one,’” Brown revealed during her memorial service Thursday night that was broadcast on Facebook Live.
“She said, 'It’s better for the kids.' And we just kept saying, ‘No, you belong to us. We’re gonna get through this together. We’re not going to replace you. You’re not going anywhere unless God makes it clear that you’re to go,’” Brown continued.
He further explained that even though Williams didn’t feel like she should continue in the role during her time off from work due to her illness, she never wavered in her faith.
He said after the strokes, she went on to have other health issues and she tried to step down as she took time off to deal with those issues as well.
“She had this entire series of very serious eye problems. Eye surgeries and face down for weeks at a time and unable to clearly see and function. And again we went through that whole conversation all over again where she kept saying, 'You need to find a different youth minister, you need to find one that’s not broken for the kids.' And all over again I said, ‘No, you belong to us. We’re gonna get through this together. You’re not gonna be replaced, not unless God takes you outta here,'” Brown said.
The youth pastor’s older brother, Nathan Williams, who also spoke at the memorial service, recalled how his sister was “born ill.”
“The first images that I have of Allison is I remember when she was born ill and had lung trouble, and so I remember this little toddler that was in like an air tent. And she’s this chubby little toddler bouncing around because she didn’t know that she was sick,” he said.
“… I remember her in the hospital and when we took her home she was so sick that for some reason the doctors thought it would be more convenient at home if she had a medical bed. So when she was little she had a full hospital bed in there like for an adult, but it wasn’t like the ones you use like electronic buttons. It was old school so you would like have a crank that would elevate the bed. And we figured out that if you made the bumps just right is looked like the bat mobile from Adam West,” he said, eliciting laughs. “I got to be Adam West because I was older. She was always Robin.”
He explained that even though he doesn’t know why his sister’s life ended at 36, the community that knew and loved her could take solace in each other.
“There’s no answer for why Allison is dead. There doesn’t need to be an answer why she died at 36, and I don’t have to feel good about it. But I know that we are together. The Spirit speaks for us when we have no words and know that Jesus is good,” he said.
Brown also praised the late youth pastor as the best youth pastor he’s ever had and said they enjoyed a solid friendship even when they disagreed.
“I have not hesitated to tell people she was the best youth minister I have ever had the privilege of working with. She was my colleague. She was my sister in Christ. But more than that, she was my friend. And I understand that her passing has left me as numb as it has you. I have as many questions. I have a sense of disbelief,” he said.
“I had the privilege of working by Allison 11 years. … I believe we were a good team. In the environment of the church we often talk about how it seems like our names are lumped together when there is conversation and we were loyal to each other. I always knew that my character was safe with her. She always knew that her character was safe with me. And contrary to popular belief, Allison and I did not always agree,” he explained.
Brown also praised her love for Jesus and said how she loved others around her was a testament to her role as a true disciple of Christ.
“We are filled with hope because we know the promises of the Savior and we are beyond the shadow of a doubt. We know the word of God and trust the word of God and trust that Allison is in the presence of Jesus Christ Himself. Can you imagine what she knows now that she didn’t know just a few days ago?” Brown asked.