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Local church fundraises for cherished member’s medical needs
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DeAnna Clark’s church, The Soul Filling Station, hosted a March 4 benefit to raise money for her medical costs related to severe health problems. - photo by Julia Fechter

Regardless of her location, Dawsonville resident DeAnna Clark has made it a point to love others as Christ loved the church. 

Now, she is in a position to receive the same kind of selfless love after being diagnosed with multiple liver-related conditions and told that she only has several months to live. 

This past Friday, her church body, The Soul Filling Station, held an evening hot dogs-and-BBQ benefit to raise money for Clark’s medical expenses on their campus at 77 Hugh Stowers Road in Dawsonville. 

At least $2,100 was raised in cash, not counting money given through a CashApp for Clark. People interested in donating that way may send donations to $benefitDeAnnaClark. 

Sharon Anglin, a member of the church, said she and others got Clark a CashApp card to help with medical expenses. 

“No matter what we raise, it’s more than she has, and she’s very appreciative,” Sharon said. 

Sharon’s known Clark for between 20-30 years, and her friend was with the church for about 10-15 years before leaving for a time and eventually returning a little over a year ago. 

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The church’s praise team leads a worship service during the benefit for DeAnna Clark. - photo by Julia Fechter

Clark explained that a couple of years ago, she left Georgia to be with her sister in Texas, where she stayed for about two years. 

In February 2018, she was severely injured during a tree removal accident. Clark suffered a fractured skull, brain hemorrhage, multiple broken back vertebrae, 34 broken ribs, a broken left leg and a crushed shoulder.

In other words, it was a miracle that she survived. 

“God spared me because I actually died three times, twice on the way to the hospital and once in the ER…but he brought me through that,” Clark said. 

During her hospital stay, doctors did tell her that she had liver cirrhosis, but it wasn’t advanced at that time. Clark didn’t have the money to address that issue, and as with many other people, the pandemic complicated her ability to go to a doctor. 

Then, she started feeling really bad. Fifteen months ago, she decided to do something about it., right at about two o’ clock in the morning. 

“I just got in my car and drove straight to Georgia because I wanted to be home. You know you always feel better at home,” she said. 

When first returning to Dawsonville, she stayed with her aunt, Della Fortner, before she found her own place. 

Now, Clark not only has primary biliary cirrhosis, but also two autoimmune deficiencies attacking her liver, and her spleen has also been impacted as a result. 

With her various medical appointments, church friends Keri Freeman and Kay Fortner have been her caregivers. 

Faith journey

While Clark’s had a lot of ups-and-downs over the past few years, she’s continued looking to God and her faith in the midst of it all. 

A couple dozen faithful gathered for a special worship service after getting their fill of food at the church on Friday. 

Associate pastor Will Anglin led the service in lieu of pastor Bob Benson. 

When it’s been hard for Clark to get through the day-to-day of things, she teared up describing her friends that carry her and are continually by her side. 

Keri Freeman, also a praise team member, described Clark as someone who, growing up, was someone who “was always willing to step in, be a sister, auntie or whatever you needed.”

Another singer, Shawn Hall, said that Clark touched his life when he started attending The Soul Filling Station years ago and heard her sing “The Anchor Holds.” 

“It reached into my soul…and that’s what it means, that it (faith) will hold through anything,” he said. 

“When you know that you don’t have time or you possibly may not have time, it puts things into a whole different perspective,” Clark said. “Because [then] you know time’s short, and you’ve got to make sure you’re right with God and everything you’ve wanted to do.” 

She elaborated that if not for God, she would’ve given up a long time ago. 

During her whole journey, Clark has inscribed on her heart part of the Bible scripture Psalm 91, which states, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God; in him will I trust.” 

Clark smiled and said of the scripture, “It’s my strength.” 

The special worship service began with the song “Don’t You Tell Me He Can’t Do It. The lyrics for it describe seeing God’s healing power at work through miracles and other stories that prove His faithfulness, while also recognizing that it’s okay to not fully understand how God works. 

Another song, “Surrounded (Fight My Battles)” captured the mood of the service with the continual refrain “This is how I fight my battles.” 

Rather than a literal scuffle, Clark chooses to fight her battles with worship and a circle of people around her praising and worshiping. She even got up to sing a song later in the night. 

“They say I'm dying,” she said of her doctors, “but you know what, I think I feel much better and look much better than I did a year ago.” 

“So many of us could get discouraged about what we’re going through,” said Will Anglin. “She doesn’t allow what the doctors told her to stop her…she comes in [to worship] with hands raised.” 

Billy Anglin, who played the bass guitar during the worship event, added that “at no point” had he seen Clark lose faith in him as a fellow believer. 

“I love you for who you are and for coming home,” he said. “Let it be said, we’re fighting with a loved one. We’re fighting with you. We love you.”

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In spite of her health conditions, Clark triumphantly raises a fist during the worship service and sings the refrain, “There ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down.” - photo by Julia Fechter

Later, he repeated what Clark had said about her condition and emphatically added, “If you’re not dead, He’s not done.” 

The church members and other friends of Clark acknowledged Clark’s future fight ahead of her as she’s hopefully able to move forward with getting a liver transplant. 

And they also recognized that as Christians, the eternal victory has already been won. 

With a triumphant fist in the air, eyes closed and mind focused on reverent worship, Clark sang during the song, “Ain’t No Grave.” 

Clark and the other worshipers sang, “When I hear that trumpet sound, I’m gonna rise up outta the ground. There ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down.”