Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 10.34.38 AMOn Sunday, Feb. 21, I was inspired to ask Deacon Tim Elliott, Director of Deacons for the Diocese of Knoxville, about the possibility of starting a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Deacon Jim Lawson’s rehab expenses. He liked the idea but wanted to obtain Bishop Stika’s approval before we moved forward with this (wise man!). He also felt it was important to discuss it with Deacon Jim, who reluctantly agreed. On Friday evening of last week I created the campaign with the following description:

Deacon Jim Lawson has been a deacon formation director for my class of 24 deacon candidates for the past five years and he needs your help. He has undergone 7 hip replacement surgeries as a result of infection in the hip socket following his first surgery.

Deacon Jim has been in rehab since September 2015 and has exhausted his Medicare insurance benefits. He still needs at least two more months of rehab following this week’s 7th surgery. The cost of this rehab is $8,500 per month. In spite of this significant financial burden, he is very reluctant to ask for your help. He is truly a humble man of God.

Apparently the infection will never be completely eliminated due to its location in the hip joint. Deacon Jim is expected to be on a regimen of antibiotics and have limited mobility for the remainder of his life.

Deacon Jim was ordained a permanent deacon in 1982. He was assigned to Sacred Heart Cathedral in 1994 and served there as a deacon for two decades. He was assigned to St. John Neumann parish in 2014.

He has been an amazing mentor for our group of 24 deacon candidates over the past five years. His experience and wisdom has been so helpful in forming 24 men who will be ordained in June. He has given such a large part of his life to serving the Church and now he needs our help.

Deacon Jim’s need is imminent. He re-enters the rehab facility this week to recover from his most recent, and hopefully final, surgery. He will be in rehab for 6-8 weeks and will be paying all of his expenses out of pocket. This unplanned expense represents a significant financial burden for him.

It is very difficult for Deacon Jim to be in this position of having to request your financial support. He never thought he would be in a position where he needed to receive financial assistance from his friends. He will be so very grateful for anything you can do to help.

A donation of any amount will be a big help. I’m asking that you do whatever you can, but without placing a financial burden on you or your family. Even a small donation from many of his friends will help so much.

Deacon Jim knows and understands that you may not be in a position to help financially. Regardless of whether or not you can contribute, he requests your prayers. He knows the power of prayer and believes that your prayers are even more important than your financial support. He is especially grateful for your prayers.

Thank you for considering to support Deacon Jim with your financial contribution. God bless you.

I was not prepared for what happened next. Within 24 hours we had collected nearly $5,000 of our $20,000 goal! On Monday Deacon Tim sent the following email to all of the deacons and deacon candidates in the diocese, which I posted as an update on GoFundMe:

Deacon Jim Lawson has been involved in all of our lives for so many years. Deacon Jim was ordained in 1982 and has served so many so well. With Fr. Greg Bovier, he was instrumental in helping to promote the Diaconate to the point that it has flourished in our diocese. He was involved with the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart since the founding our diocese and was assistant formation director for my class of deacons (ordained in June of 2007) and the current group of candidates (to be ordained in June of 2016 God Willing).

He has looked out for the needs of others in every aspect of Parish life, preparing couples for marriage and baptizing their children and being present with love and support and mercy when marriages fall apart and people are hurting. He has served the law enforcement community so well for so many years as a chaplain and has been a great friend and mentor to many, myself included. He has modeled DEACON in each stage of life for so many of us.

Currently, Deacon Jim Lawson needs our support. He has had 7 surgeries on his hip in less than a year. He has exhausted the amount of in facility care and therapy offered through Medicare without going into Long term care benefits which he is not ready for. With proper physical therapy and medical care he will be graced with restored mobility. One of the current candidates has set up a fund to help with Deacon Jim’s in facility care for the next couple of months. The cost is substantial (about $8500.00 per month). Please visit the following “Go Fund Me” site and help with a contribution. If you cannot, make a contribution I ask that you continue to pray for our brother…

Here is the link to the site…

Please know that I am praying for you…

Deacon Tim Elliott
Director of the Diaconate and Deacon Formation
Diocese of Knoxville

The contributions continued to come in fast and furiously and by yesterday we had exceed our goal. Just 4 days of fundraising! I posted the following update yesterday:

As I write this we are within $200 of our goal! It is through the incredible generosity of 144 people to date that we have raised these funds for Deacon Jim. As he said last Saturday evening when the amount raised was about $4,500, “I am flabbergasted!”

From the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone who donated to this fund. I had no idea what to expect when I was inspired to start it. The speed at which we funded our goal speaks volumes of the love you all have for this amazing man. You have inspired me more than you can ever know.

God bless you and your families,

Scott Maentz

Deacon Jim - 1

Deacon Jim reviews his donor list and comments this morning.

Today I met with Deacon Jim, who was overwhelmed with the outpouring of all of this love and generosity to help him in his time of need. We together processed the necessary information with GoFundMe to transfer the funds to his bank account and the funds are on the way to him. Here’s a photo I snapped this morning as he was reviewing all of the contributions and reading the comments that were left for him by many of the donors. Needless to say, it was an emotional experience for both of us. The power of your prayers was palpable in that moment!

He’s looking very good and is ready to get to work on his rehab exercises. As a result of the funds that are now at his disposal there is a good chance he will be able to get on an accelerated schedule of 5 days of rehab weekly, rather than the 3 days he had previously planned on. Please pray that this works out so he might be able to get home sooner!

Once again, I’ve learned that nothing is impossible for God. When he is ready to act, he moves surely and swiftly. His abundant mercy has been clearly witnessed by all of us as he moved powerfully for our beloved Deacon Jim.

God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.