Barbara Wischmeier recently announced that she would be stepping down from her position as Associate Director of Sacred Arts due to complicated health issues. Barbara began her ministry with First Church in October 2018. She was hired for her outstanding musical gifts and professional experience, but we have also seen her great passion for the arts, her integrity, and her determination in the face of adversity. During a tumultuous battle with primary immunodeficiency disorder (PID), she has shown resilience and faith. The Epistle asked Barbara to share a glimpse of her journey with us. Here is what she said.

Can you tell us what life has been like for you, even before the COVID-19 quarantines?
It has been unfortunate timing that a year after accepting my dream job, I was diagnosed with a disease that has no cure and can only be managed. Then the pandemic hit. (Remember, I was a trendsetter by fashionably sporting face masks months before COVID!) Adjusting to life in isolation took a significant toll both mentally and physically. My treatment includes biweekly infusions of IgG to supply antibodies.

What are the biggest challenges that lie ahead for you?
Recovery from my hip replacement surgery in June will be crucial since I am at the highest risk for infection. It may take up to a year to regain my health. Beyond that, I do not have a clear sense of what life will look like except that I will be partnering with my surgeon to help co-author articles on PID patients needing joint replacement. This year of change and trauma will not disappear when the pandemic ends; bringing its lessons and hardships into the future will be just part of the journey.

How do you feel going forward?
I feel optimistic knowing this is God’s plan, even though He requires that I take the biggest leap of faith I have ever faced: fully surrendering my expectations and allowing God to do all the conducting. I am beginning to view stepping out into this post-pandemic society as a second chance. The way forward is much brighter now that I have received my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

What are you most grateful for today?
God brought me to First Church for a reason. This has been my dream job, a job that I searched for all my professional career; I am grateful for that. Even if it is still not clear why this is all happening, I know something good will come from it! Each step of this journey has been filled with love and compassion from a very supportive church and a loving choir community. How does a person say “thank you” for
a second chance in life? With gratitude and thankfulness!

We are deeply grateful for Barbara’s service to First Church, and trust in God’s healing and wisdom to guide her on the road ahead. Please lift her up in your prayers over the coming months. To help meet her needs as she recovers, well-wishers may donate online to her Go Fund Me site to help with medical expenses and insurance.