On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina moved inland to Moss Point, MS leaving water and wind damage, death, destruction, and broken spirits. In the midst of blue tarps, water level marks, and hundreds of volunteers, Hurricane Katrina connected two men in what was to become a life-long friendship.
Tim and Bishop’s journey began in March 2006. A mission team, including Tim Eller, arrived at their host church location only to find their accommodations unavailable for the duration of their stay. Bishop Houston Cunningham offered his church, Green Pastures located in Moss Point, as a housing site for the team. After six days of gutting, rebuilding, and sharing, Tim was baptized by Bishop and a bond of friendship was formed.
Months later, as Bishop was preparing to travel to Kenya for a youth conference he asked Tim to travel with him. In December 2007 the two traveled together across the ocean into Kenya. During their stay, as Tim was preparing for the day, he accidentally brushed his teeth with unsanitary tap water. Soon after he became ill and collapsed. As Tim awoke, he found Bishop next to his bedside fervently praying over him.
Throughout the following years, the bond grew stronger as their families became closer. Numerous trips were made back and forth between the two men and their families. Southern hospitality was enjoyed on visits down to Mississippi, and trips north to the Eller’s home in Indiana became a time of relaxation and renewal. In August 2012, Bishop performed the wedding of Tim’s youngest daughter, Suzanne.
In February 2016, Bishop informed Tim that his one remaining kidney was showing signs of kidney failure and the need for a kidney transplant was imminent. Soon after, Bishop was added to the transplant list and assigned a transplant advocate. In an effort to help his friend in any way he could, Tim had a blood test performed to see if there was a possibility of him being a match for Bishop. After more testing and a trip to Ochsner Hospital in New Orleans in July 2016, as well as four days of intense medical, emotional, and psychological tests, Tim was declared a 98.6% match!
Both families were blown away by the way God orchestrated this miracle. After six surgery attempts being canceled for one reason or another, the seventh attempt was finally a success. The surgery took place at Ochsner Hospital on August 14, 2017, which resulted in a healthy recovery for both Tim and Bishop. Tim was released from the hospital five days after the surgery took place and Bishop three weeks later. Both Tim and Bishop are fully recovered and are enjoying their new lifestyle to the fullest!