After 25 years of serving and loving the people of Fruit Cove Baptist Church, lead pastor Tim Maynard humbly gave his church the chance to minister to him and his wife Pam as she struggled and eventually succumbed to cancer last year.

Maynard details their journey through ministry and illness and his subsequent solo voyage through grief in his recent book “I Bear Witness.”

“It’s the story of how the church ministered to us – how the Body of Christ came around us and the things they did and how they took care of us,” he said. “They gave us space to deal with what we needed to deal with.”

But it’s more than that.

Tim & Pam Maynard

When Pam was diagnosed with brain cancer in the spring of 2017, the church allowed Maynard the freedom to stay by her side without having to look after the day-to-day needs of the ministry. Through texts, meals, social media and constant prayer, the people of Fruit Cove offered encouragement, love and support to the Maynards. Once Pam went home to be with Jesus, the church continued to give their pastor the space he needed to grieve. Because the nature of Pam’s illness meant visitors were severely restricted, the book is Maynard’s way of giving the church a glimpse of some of the dark days the two endured.

“It’s a report to the church,” he said. “I felt the need to be accountable for the sabbatical.

But it’s more than that.

Maynard takes a hard look at grief even while in its grips.

“If you really immerse yourself in the book it could take you to some dark places,” Maynard said. “It’s a book about what grief does for you and how you grieve as the leader and how much do you let people in.”

One way Maynard is giving back to Fruit Cove is by giving all proceeds from the book to his church, saying that the gift to the church is to honor Pam.

But it’s more than even that.

Tim Maynard with granddaughter McCail.

“This book is for my grandbaby,” he said referring to granddaughter McCail Maynard. “I promised Pam that McCail would know who she was.”

Through the writing process, Maynard has found a new passion for the pen and promised that this first book will not be his last.

Maynard’s brother Mark is managing editor of Kentucky Today, an online publication of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. In a piece he published last week, he said writing the book helped his brother process his grief.

“[Tim] poured out his heart in the pages of this book and it is one of those that falls into the category of you-cannot-put-it-down once you’ve started reading it,” he wrote. “There are insights in the book that will help those going through a similar situation with the death of a spouse and it’s also a book that glorifies God and presents the gospel message in its purest form.”

Pastor Tim, as he is affectionately known at Fruit Cove, is grateful that, as He so often does, God is doing a new thing in his life. The beauty of it is the new thing honors the legacy of love and faith that were the hallmarks of his 40-year marriage to Pam.

By Nicole Kalil, Florida Baptist Convention, April 3, 2018