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Jill Biden surprises South Carolina church family that helped restore her faith years earlier

During a celebration of 50 years as pastor for Dr. Charles B. Jackson at Brookland Baptist Church, Biden described how he and his wife Robin helped change her life.

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — The First Lady of the United States made a surprise visit to the Midlands of South Carolina on Sunday where she made an appearance at a local church.

But it was not just any visit, as this was a special day to share an even more special moment with people who she said helped her find her way back to God.

Biden joined the celebration of Dr. Charles B. Jackson's 50 years as pastor of Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia.

The First Lady acknowledged his impact on the city, state and country during his time with the church, describing the moment behind the celebration as "an incredible milestone."

But for Biden, the impact of this particular church was also deeply personal - and how another leader who helped her - the church's First Lady, Robin Jackson.

Her role in Biden's life came after the death of Beau Biden following his long battle with cancer. The First Lady said she continued to believe that her son would survive and continued to pray - even as doctors provided a heartbreaking prognosis.

"In the final days, I made one last desperate prayer," she said. "And it went unanswered."

Biden said that, after Beau died, she felt betrayed by her faith and broken. She said she couldn't bring herself to return to the church.

"I couldn't even pray," she said. "I wondered if I would ever feel joy again."

Credit: WLTX
Jill Biden hugs Pastor Charles B. Jackson Sr. at Brookland Baptist Church

She said that it was in the summer of 2019 when all that changed - in the very same West Columbia Church where she now stood.

"Many of you may remember this. Joe and I came to worship here at Brookland Baptist Church," she said.

It was there that she had an encounter with Robin that she said changed her life.

"Something felt different that morning," she said. "And while we were worshipping, and I remember this so clearly because I was sitting right there, Robin came up to me and she sat beside me and she said, 'Dr. Biden, I would like to be your prayer partner.'"

Biden said she didn't know if Robin noticed how moved she had been by the service or if she could see the grief still in her heart.

"But I do know that when she spoke, it was as if God was saying to me, 'OK, Jill, you've had enough time,'" she said. "'It's time you come home.'"

She said that, for the first time, she felt there was a path of recovery for her faith.

Before leaving the podium, First Lady Biden thanked both Charles and Robin for "leading so many to Grace."

Credit: WLTX
Jill Biden at Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia on Oct. 17, 2021