COVID-19 impacted the entire Taylor-Rolle family, but faith in God and giving Him praise even in the midst of adversity pulled them through. Today, they are closer than ever and growing from strength to strength as a pastoral family.
Apostle Dr. Utah Taylor-Rolle, senior pastor of The New Oasis of Love Kingdom Ministries International, was officially anointed and became a pastor on November 10, 2019. He would have to find a way to deliver the word of God and be relevant in the midst of a pandemic which, at the time, was still new with lots of uncertainty.
“Two years may seem like a short time, but two years in a pandemic is like an eternity,” he said.
He didn’t know at the time that his greatest challenge would come when his entire household would contract the COVID-19 virus in July of this year.
“It was a hot, sunny day, about 90º Fahrenheit,” Taylor-Rolle recalls. “My eldest son Cairo was outside hanging clothes on the line. He came inside and said, ‘Mommy, I cold.’ Being a nurse, my wife immediately took his temperature, which read 100.3ºF. The pastor in me instantly kicked in. I anointed him with oil and held him as I prayed. The next day, we took him to do a COVID test, which came back positive. Immediately, we placed him in isolation. My son’s temperature rose as high as 102.7ºF and he complained that his throat felt like glass bottle was in it.
“We sprayed so much Beep in the hallway and on the door knobs every time he left his room, until we began to feel sick from Beep. Little did I know, this spiteful disease had already begun to take root in me. One morning, I woke up and my head felt like someone was constantly pounding on it with a jackhammer. My joints were weak, my pressure was high, I didn’t have any appetite, I had stomach ache, sore throat and I was burning up with fever.”
Taylor-Rolle instantly went into “full survival mode”. In addition to fervent prayers and constant praise, even while he felt his worst, he reached for the moringa, peppermint, fever grass and blue vervain plants in his yard. Daily, he would drink bush medicine in addition to the prescribed medication he received. He would also perform steaming at least twice daily, allowing herbal vapors to work on his sinus cavities. He did all of this while listening to audio scriptures, which he said healed him mentally.
“Praying endlessly maintained my spiritual connection when the Devil tried to get me to give up,” he said.
“My wife (Evangelist Valarina Taylor-Rolle) never left my side, so she caught COVID also. My son, Utah Jr., had headaches and stomach aches for one day and then was fine. My daughter, Sierra Leone, was able to resist the virus. But she had to deal with the fact that everyone else was sick, so she was impacted in some way as well. Never in my life did I pray so much. I would wake up about eight times throughout the night, drenched with sweat, throbbing with pain, but yet I prayed.”
After being released from quarantine, Taylor-Rolle said he continued to experience chest pains and extremely painful muscle spasms.
Then, tragedy struck. His family members in Exuma became infected with COVID-19. Two of his uncles died in the same day – one 10 a.m. and the other 10 p.m. Through all of this, he said that if he was not rooted and grounded in God, he would have given up.
Once he began to regain his strength, he preached many sermons in his backyard under the same moringa tree that he went to daily for healing during the worst of the virus. The Taylor-Rolle family pulled together stronger than ever. They had a full praise team with keyboard and drums.
“My wife, Lady Valarina, Cairo, Utah Jr. and Sierra Leone made it happen,” he said.
“Like the five wise virgins, I had prepared for such a time as this. From 2019, I began to put my 25-plus years in audio and visual communications into play. I set up television screens and audio devices where I could broadcast to my congregation from anywhere in the world and they could see and hear me. My church doors never closed, thanks to technology.”
November 10 was his official second pastoral anniversary, but he celebrated it on Sunday, November 14, 2021. Among the activities from October 31, he partnered with Princess Margaret Hospital to create a circle of prayer, praise and proclamation around the entire campus of the hospital. On November 6, he held a men’s conclave under the theme, “Celebrating the Kings We Are”. On Friday, November 12, the Taylor-Rolles hosted the Youth Jamboree talent competition. On Saturday, November 13, there was a prayer luncheon with prayer lines on Zoom, Facebook and WhatsApp. Later that evening, Taylor-Rolle and his church leaders hit the streets of Nassau, giving out grocery bags and necessities to anyone they met who was in need.
On Sunday, November 14 at 4 p.m., Apostle Taylor-Rolle’s second pastoral anniversary was officially celebrated.
“The turnout was extremely encouraging; the sanctuary and both of our overflows were filled.
“I feel good. I made it through, under one of the most strenuous times and while many churches had to close their doors, I experienced growth. Six people joined my church at one time about two months ago. What the Devil meant for bad, God turned it around for good. COVID tried to take us out, but mercy said, no!”