Oklahoma couple surprises pastor with Pay It 4Ward Award

SHAWNEE, Okla. - When life's trials and troubles hit a Shawnee couple hard, they turned to their faith for help.

After a sudden and long illness struck, Linda Sloan has spent the past three years going in and out of hospitals and physical therapy sessions.

"I lost the ability to walk because I was in the hospital for so long and because my knees are so bad," Linda said.

Linda was forced to retire, while her husband of 25 years, Garvin, became her caretaker.

Garvin is disabled and needed help with Linda's care, so the couple had to hire a home health worker to do what Garvin cannot.

The bills have piled up, but the couple's church stepped up, helping where the Sloan's needed it most.

"They were bringing food and stuff over, they were helping us pay bills, they are really nice members, they really are," Garvin said.

In this case, when God closed a window, He opened a door with the Open Door Church of God, which is home to about 125 members and Pastor James Douglas behind the pulpit.

"We are very blessed to be part of the church and blessed to have James and the church in our lives," Garvin said.

To pay back some of what the church congregation has so generously given them, the Sloan's nominated Pastor James and the church with a $400 Pay It 4Ward award from First Fidelity Bank's Michelle Jensen.

"We're honored at First Fidelity Bank to be able to give the $400 to Pay It 4Ward to Mr. Douglas and the Open Door Church of God for all of the help that they have given to the Sloan family in this time of need," Michelle said.

The Sloan's took the $400 and crept inside the church for the big surprise.

As Garvin handed the money to Pastor James, he said, "You and the church have made us feel like two very loved church members and we love y'all for that."

Pastor James replied with, "Hey, love y'all too! Wow, this is such a great blessing, it's amazing," he said. "It's not me, we have a super generous church that allows me to be able to help out people like Garvin and Linda that are part of our church family."

The Open Door Church of God also does a backpack outreach for students, they hand out blankets when it's cold, and they donate thousands of Easter eggs for an annual community hunt.

"Jesus gave us two big commandments - 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength,' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' so that's what we're seeking to do," Pastor James said.

Pay It 4Ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.

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