The Rev. Lewis Macklin is a familiar face in the Mahoning Valley.
Besides serving as the pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Youngstown since 1997, Pastor Macklin sits on multiple boards and committees throughout the region, is a regular attendee at government and community meetings and a participant at community events and gatherings
In February though, serious illness struck him, landing him in the hospital for several weeks and prompting the man who had always helped whomever needed it to rely on others.
“I will say out of all of this, the community has been a blessing to me,” he said.
Community members encouraged him, prayed for him, and sent cards. He also credits his family who has been advocating for him, particularly his wife, Dorothy.
When her husband’s stubbornness interfered with what was best for him, Dorothy intervened to make sure he received the care and procedures he needed.
The difficulty started when Rev. Macklin was on his way to work and locked his keys inside the house. He struggled to breathe, had no energy and a walk across the street proved nearly impossible. A neighbor, who is a nurse, allowed Pastor Macklin to call Dorothy from the neighbor’s house.
Dorothy took her husband to the hospital where he would stay for several weeks.
“Mercy Health was very thorough in trying to diagnose and get things under control,” he said. “At one point it became very bleak and they suggested some alternatives such as hospice. It was really rough. The doctors didn’t really think I was going to make it out of the hospital.”
He’s keeping the details of the illness private.
“I had no fear of dying,” Rev. Macklin, 57, said. “I was fearful of living in a condition and a way that my independence was gone and in a way that I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself. That’s what scared me.”
He’s not back to 100%, but he’s improving. He can walk, sometimes using a cane.
“It’s an adjustment so I’m learning to go with the flow,” Rev. Macklin said. “In some ways, I was addicted to the word, ‘Yes’ or I was allergic to the word, ‘No.’”
Yes had always been his go-to answer whenever anyone asked him for anything because he wants to help. His illness though is teaching him his limitations.
“That’s been the greatest challenge for me so I’ve learned to make adjustments,” he said.
He returned from the hospital in mid-May and soon returned to the church. Family first, and then friends got him through it. He’s also grateful for the medical team at Mercy Health, whom he describes as people of faith.
“The outpouring of love. I have to admit, I did not realize the appreciation the community had for me. It was just heartwarming. That encouraged me and I said, ‘Lewis, you can’t give up. You’ve got to keep it moving and do what you’ve got to do.’ As everyone kept telling me, ‘There’s more work for you to do.’”
Pastor Lewis Macklin is the Honorary Chair for the 10th annual Walk for the National African American Male Wellness Walk to take place on August 5, 2023 at the Covelli Center.