Pastor Derek Hubbard’s story of faith and strength

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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The leader of a church spends their life taking care of their congregation. They are seen as a beacon of spiritual strength. Every prayer for a miracle throughout the church is filtered through to the pastor, but who prays for the pastor when they fall ill?

The New Unity Church in Valley answered that question when Pastor Derek Hubbard was rushed to the hospital earlier this year. 

“We’re still there, and we’re not going anywhere,” Hubbard said. “God’s been so good to our little church.”

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Hubbard has been the pastor of the New Unity Church for nearly 17 years. In that time, his down-to-earth personality drew a devoted congregation to his doors every Sunday. 

Though the church is small, community and connection are at the heart of it.

On Jan. 27, Hubbard was taken to the hospital after he was discovered unresponsive in the morning. Amid chaos and confusion, he was put on a ventilator, replacing 90% of his oxygen intake. He was put through rounds of tests, but for a while all his family knew was that there was an issue with his heart.

As Hubbard’s medical bills racked up, two members of his church decided to raise money for his family. Elizabeth Thompson and Kendra Perry began an online GoFundMe fundraiser for Hubbard and his wife. 

By the time their GoFundMe fundraiser closed, they had raised over $1,500 in donations. They also held a raffle with gift cards from several local businesses, which raised $1525. 

“I’ve got bills like everybody else, and this will be my second month, and I’m not able to work next month,” Hubbard said. “But they take care of pretty much everything. I haven’t had to really worry about anything because of the good people here in Valley and wonderful people at our church.”

The businesses that donated were Scentsy Scents, Coach’s Bar and Grill, Johnny’s New York Pizza, Simplicity’s Likeness Photography, Captain D’s, Yianni’s Kitchen, Milano’s, SMH Photography, Sunny’s Home Cooking, El Jimador, San Marco’s, Karvela’s Pizza, Guthrie’s, Purge Nation, CMH T-shirts, Daniel’s Drive Inn, Long Beach Tanning, Smokin Mo’s BBQ, Walmart, Charley Dianne’s Cups and The Skatin’ Rink.

“I have to push everybody to support our local businesses because they’re there when the people in this valley need them,” Hubbard said.

At the beginning of February, Hubbard’s doctors had found pneumonia and an infection in his lungs. He stayed in a medically induced coma for a week.

After two weeks in the hospital, Hubbard was able to go home. His doctors were astounded by his recovery. Only days before, he said they worried that he might not make it. 

“It was just a miracle. It’s like each day, I got better and better,” Hubbard said. “I’m so blessed to be alive.”

Still weak and on oxygen, he returned to the church for Sunday service the second week after leaving the hospital. Hubbard sustained damage to one side of his heart and an unknown amount of damage to his lungs. The culprit for all the issues was his sleep apnea. 

“I give God the glory because it was a miracle,” Hubbard said.

Though he still has a long road to recovery ahead, Hubbard is grateful for his family and community. Even while he was in the hospital, his congregation continued to meet for church.

“I believe that gave me more inspiration than anything just for the fact that I saw these people and their faith in God and how they cared about me,” Hubbard said. “They just really, really bless my heart.”

Though he is still in the recovery stage, Hubbard has continued to preach on Sundays with his oxygen tank by his side.

“I really want to give God the glory for what he’s done because he’s just really been amazing for me. And nowadays, we don’t hear that enough,” Hubbard said. “But I’m telling you, God has just really given me the faith and the strength through all of it.”