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Watch now: At Mount Zion breakfast, a lesson in keeping the faith

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Keynote speaker Becky Anderson shares her story during the Mount Zion Community Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday. 

MOUNT ZION — Becky Anderson could have let the tragedies in her family make her bitter. Instead, she has learned to lean on her faith in Christ.

“I don't know how people who don't have a relationship with Jesus get through things like this,” said Anderson, the keynote speaker at the Mount Zion Chamber of Commerce's prayer breakfast on Wednesday.

The event included performances by the Mount Zion High School Mixed A Capella Ensemble and pianist and singer Zach Garrett, with the presentation of colors by the Macon County Honor Guard.

Mt. Zion High School Mixed Acapella Ensemble performs "Hold on to the Rock" on Wednesday during the 9th Annual Mount Zion Community Prayer Breakfast 

Anderson said she'd been asked to talk about her “post-traumatic wisdom moments,” and she chose the three biggest. Each could have been the subject of a whole talk of its own, she said.

When Anderson was 12, her 25-year-old brother, Jeff, was in a construction accident that caused him to become a quadriplegic. He required 24-hour care for 15 years before his death in 2001. During those years, her family learned to always be there for one another. She helped bathe, feed and turn her brother, who could not communicate or do anything for himself.

Mount Zion Community Prayer Breakfast  4 102021.JPG

Attendees listen to a prayer on Wednesday during the ninth annual Mount Zion Community Prayer Breakfast at Mount Zion Convention Center.

“Something so horrifying for my family turned into something that really made me who I am today,” she said.

Her mother died the summer after her freshman year in college. Anderson said she coped by drinking too much during the rest of her college years.

“My mom is who raised me to have that close relationship with God, whether I wanted to or not,” she said. “We were up every Sunday going to church, and losing her derailed me more than I anticipated.”

She eventually found her way back to faith, she said.

Then her father died six years later. She gets her gregarious personality from her dad, she said, though she looks like her mom.

Becky Anderson

Becky Anderson speaks on Wednesday during the ninth annual Mount Zion Community Prayer Breakfast. Anderson talked about her faith amid her daughter's diagnosis, treatment and battle with childhood leukemia. Visit to see a video with this story.

Anderson opened Physicans' Choice Wellness in 2008 and one of her goals was to serve Native Americans in honor of her mother's heritage. She ran a clinic on the reservation in North Dakota where members of her family live and planned to open a center in New Mexico near the Navajo nation in 2020, when COVID-19 put a halt to their plans.

In June of that year, her youngest child, Shoni, 5 at the time, began waking up with pain in her legs. Sometimes they were awake all night because of it.

“Once in the middle of the night she asked me, 'Am I going to die?'” Anderson said.

Zach Garrett

Zach Garrett plays piano and sings during the Mount Zion Prayer Breakfast. 

At first, doctors attributed the pain to “growing pains,” and in a family where everyone is tall, that seemed a distinct possibility, Anderson said. But when the pain continued and worsened, the diagnosis of leukemia came in February 2021.

Shoni has a strong faith of her own, Anderson said, and has faced the painful treatments and even losing her hair, but last week they had a scary time, when Shoni seemed to give up hope. Her immune system is gone, and there was no recognition or spirit in her eyes.

Anderson put out a call on Facebook for prayer, and four hours later, Shoni was back and fighting again, she said.

“From the pain she's lived through, she has post-traumatic wisdom, and she just turned 6,” Anderson said.

The prayer breakfast included prayers and Scripture readings from several Mount Zion-area pastors. Those attending were urged to fill out prayer cards on the tables and share their prayer and praise requests with those sitting with them.

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Attendees listen to a prayer on Wednesday during the ninth annual Mount Zion Community Prayer Breakfast at Mount Zion Convention Center.

“The Bible says to bear one another's burdens and and so fulfill the law of Christ,” said the Rev. Steve DeVore, pastor of Antioch Christian Church. His own prayer to help close the event included Shoni and the Anderson family, and a call for unity among believers.

Mount Zion Chamber of Commerce President Dan McNeeley told the attendees that a portion of the proceeds from the breakfast would be donated to Shoni's Tribe.

Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter


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