Barnette knows what Brown, and faith, can do

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 3, 2004

What can Brown do for you? The slogan used by United Parcel Service has new meaning for Philip Barnette.

Suffice to say Barnette hadn't had a good month in March.

The construction worker who lives with his wife on State Route 93 just north of Ironton received some scary news early last month.

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His wife, Carolyn, was taken to Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, with what the Barnette's thought was a case of strep throat.

"After a CAT scan the doctors came out and said they found something they didn't expect," Philip Barnette said.

That "something" turned out to be spots on Mrs. Barnette's liver.

"They Life Flighted her to Ohio State University," he said.

Days after she was released a 14-year-old dog, Max, belonging to the couple's daughter died.

Like millions of fathers across the country, Mr. Barnette was chosen to bury the tiny Dachshund.

Soon, another bout of bad health sent Mrs. Barnette back to the local hospital.

A few days after being released, water began leaking in the Barnettes' house. Thunder rolled and lightning struck as a storm quickly moved into the area. The culprit was a stovepipe vent on the furnace.

"I went up earlier in the day and put a big bucket over it to stop it until I could replace it," Mr. Barnette said. "About five o'clock that evening, I looked out and saw the bucket going down the yard.

"I had to get something on that pipe, quick," he said. "I grabbed my ladder and went up to the roof.

"As soon as I started walking, I heard a noise. It was the ladder, falling."

Stuck atop the roof of his house, his ailing wife inside unable to help, Barnette said he just had to laugh.

"It was more comical than getting mad," he said. "It's lightning behind me, you're just sitting there thinking, 'What next?'"

"The Bible teaches in this life, you have tribulations, and we all do," Barnette said.

Twenty minutes or so passed before the big brown delivery truck pulled up.

That's 20 minutes of rain and ridicule from passing motorist laughing as they whizzed by.

"I didn't get his name, but he delivers on 93 all the time," Barnette said about his rainy day helper. "He laughed a little bit and set the ladder up and helped me down."

Although many people might be angry over such an ordeal, Barnette said his faith in God helped him stay strong during the month of adversity.

He and his wife attend Sharon Baptist Church in Ironton.

"Through all of this, through my wife's sickness, especially, the church has raised money, sent food, sent a stack of get well cards for my wife," Barnette said. "Where she works at Rock Hill Schools, they did the same. The church has been unbelievably supportive."

Barnette said Romans 12:15 provided inspiration for him.

"The Bible says weep with those that weep. That's what I thought about through the whole thing," he said.

"There's always somebody in need," Barnette said. "Next time it might be somebody else. We all need to be aware of everyone's problems Š we do care, but sometimes we need to put feet on our prayer life."

And as Barnette's story illustrates, sometimes those prayer feet wear brown shoes and carry ladders.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445 ext. 12 or by e-mail to