A Wisconsin pastor who was fighting for his life following a horrific car accident has died, his family has announced. James “Jim” Weiland had worked at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church since 1996. The family detailed that Jim was “T-boned” by a semi-truck while driving on Highway 8 in Rhinelander on Friday January 12.
In what would be a final message to his congregation, the pastor urged people to look outward, pray for others, and find ways to serve others – especially your closest mission field: family. “Find a neighbor who needs some help. Bake some cookies just to give them away,” he wrote. “Take off early from work to simply spend time with your kids. Put down/away your phone and listen to your spouse or children talk.”
The family has bee updating friends via their Caring Bridge journal. Last night, Jim’s wife Susan updated the page with a tragic announcement:
“2:20pm, my sweet husband’s soul left his earthly body to join his Savior in heaven. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”
Jim had been fighting for his life over the past 10 days, as family rallied around him and asked for prayer support from all over the US.
In one update, Susan posted a powerful song written and performed by the couple’s daughter, Laura. Jim’s wife said that the song had comforted her as she made the anxiety-inducing journeys back and forth to the hospital.
“The last couple days I have been listening to Laura’s CD we had recorded for her while I am on the road. She has songs that are very encouraging to me,” Susan wrote. One particular one is “He is near.” I will try to figure out how to attach it to a post. It will give you comfort as it has given me.
A powerful declaration during this devastating time for all Jim’s family and friends.
As a result of his accident Pastor Jim began to develop complications such as blood clots and kidney problems. “We heard from the neurosurgeon, Dr. Waller, that some of the way things are going with dad (kidney issues, trouble maintaining the ICP, etc.) are not typical, but that they are “doing everything they can,”” Brian Weiland updated on Jan 19. By Jan 20, things were getting worse:
“Dad had a rough start this morning. Different functions in his body are not working as well as they should be (i.e. heart, blood pressure) because his kidneys are progressively getting worse.
The kidney doctor came in and recommended that dad be put on a 24 hour dialysis.”
Brian detailed that he made a trip to the site of the accident, where he was shocked to the see the extent of the damage caused to his Father’s vehicle.
“The cab of the truck was almost completely separated from the truck bed – the semi truck had nearly split dad’s truck in half.,” he explained.
“Dad’s coat and shirt he was wearing that day were laying on the driver’s seat. They were torn up, I’m guessing from the EMTs who needed to get dad’s clothes off of him. I found dad’s wallet still in his coat pocket and his cell phone on the floor of the truck. We packed away as many things as we could find, but there were many things we weren’t able to reach or that were stuck because of the shape the truck was in.”
But still Jim was struggling, suffering from Pneumonia and in urgent need of a bronchoscopy. “There has been no change in his brain pressure, his lungs have not gotten worse and his gall bladder has some “sludge” in it but looks good. Praise be to God …again! “For He has done marvelous things!”” Susan faithfully posted on January 21.
The next day, pastor Jim’s condition turned critical. “Friends, please send up your prayers right now. I am 5 hours away from the rest of our family, but from what I have gathered, things are very serious for dad right now,” read an update on the page.
“He went into a code blue and stopped breathing. After performing CPR for 10 minutes, they were able to bring him back. I am writing to you because the rest of my family is at the ICU dealing with the situation and I am here. I feel calling everyone to prayer and praying myself is all I can do from here. Please pray my fellow brothers and sisters. Pray continually.”
Later that day, Jim passed away.
Messages of condolence, prayer and support have been pouring in since the sad announcement.
“Our prayers and condolences to all. He is with the great I am now and has peace. May your family find comfort in that knowledge,” one message read. “Our sympathy, condolences and prayers to you and all your family, friends and congregation. May Pastor Jim rest in peace with our Lord. We will all meet again someday when our Lord Jesus calls us home, and everyday we are one day closer to Heaven,” another added.
“Praying for you and your family at this difficult time. May God give you peace and comfort knowing that Jim is at eternal peace and we will all be with him again.”
“If there’s an individual here that’s the leader of the church, that’s Pastor [Weiland],” church councilman Ken Cerney told Newswatch 12 following the crash. “He’s not just our spiritual leader but he’s always in the middle of everything.”
Weiland penned a powerful pastoral message on his church website shortly before his death.
“Take action to serve others,” Weiland urged. “Find a neighbor who needs some help. Bake some cookies just to give them away. Take off early from work to simply spend time with your kids. Put down/away your phone and listen to your spouse or children talk. Volunteer to take part in an organization or project. Target your prayers for other people and their needs rather than focusing on your own.”
Do pray for the family at this incredibly difficult time. May God draw near to them in their grief.