A Christian couple from Florida that served in ministry for over half a century recently died just minutes apart from one another due to COVID-19.
According to AP and CBN, Bill and Esther Ilnisky worked hand in hand as Christian ministers and missionaries in the Caribbean and the Middle East, then preached in Florida for 40 years.
The Ilnisky's tested positive for the coronavirus just after Valentine's Day and while they were hospitalized, they were expected to initially pull through.
On March 1, 2021, laying on beds in adjoining rooms in hospice, Esther at age 92 passed away. It was only 15 minutes later that Bill, age 88, passed on as well.
"They were always, always together," says Sarah Milewski, the couple's only child. "So in sync."
Sarah was adopted by the couple from a Miami foster home when she was 2-years-old. That was back in 1969 when the couple moved from Jamaica to Lebanon where Bill ministered to college students and worked as a teacher.
A few years later in 1975, the couple was doing ministry in Beirut, Lebanon, during the time the area became a battleground between Muslims and Christians.
On different occasions, two bombs exploded right outside the couple's apartment, one of which threw Bill to the ground.
"My mom thought he was dead," Sarah says. "My mom and I went and hid in the bathroom all night, crying and praying." She told reporters that bullet holes were found on the walls of every apartment but theirs. "We attributed that to prayer."
In 1976, after getting out of the war-torn country, the family moved to Florida where Bill became pastor at Calvary Temple in West Palm Beach, later renamed Lighthouse Christian Center International. His wife launched Esther Network International, which focused on teaching children how to pray.
Esther was still involved in ministry up until her dying day, while Bill had only retired three years ago.
"It is so precious, so wonderful, such a heartwarming feeling to know they went together," says Sarah, "I miss them."