Politics Jill Biden's Prayer Partner Calls Her a 'True Friend' and Describes Their Bond: 'God Has Planned It' After an encounter at a South Carolina church, Robin Jackson played a key role in restoring the first lady's faith after the death of her stepson Beau Biden to brain cancer By Aaron Parsley Aaron Parsley Aaron Parsley has been a part of PEOPLE's digital team for more than 15 years. People Editorial Guidelines Published on October 26, 2021 11:20 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Dr. Jill Biden Instagram The woman whose kind offer helped Dr. Jill Biden restore her faith says the first lady is a "true friend." When Biden, 70, made a surprise appearance at Brookland Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina last week, she spoke of meeting Robin Jackson two years earlier, the friendship they formed through prayer and how one first lady helped another find a "path for my recovering my faith." Jackson is the wife of Brookland Baptist Church's Reverend Charles B. Jackson Sr., and Biden's unannounced visit to the church on Oct. 17 was part of a celebration to mark his 50th anniversary as pastor of the church. "When she came Sunday, I was just stunned to know that she would be there, and, of course, my family kept it from me. And so when I saw her, we embraced each other," Robin tells USA Today of seeing Biden at her church again. In 2019, the first lady and President Joe Biden attended a service there during a stop on his presidential campaign. Jill Biden Tells Story of How Prayer Helped Her Through Grief Over Beau Biden's Death: 'My Faith Was Shaken' Tracy Glantz/The State via AP "Somehow I felt that Jill was a little emotional in the in the service, having been there myself, been touched by the music as well as the preaching," Jackson said in the USA Today interview. "I felt compelled to just say to her, 'Would you mind me being your prayer partner?'" Dr. Biden says that moment was key to the restoration of her faith which had been "shaken" since her stepson Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015 at 46. "I don't know if [Jackson] could still see the grief that I feel still hides behind my smile," she told the congregation last week. "But I do know that when she spoke, it was if God was saying to me, 'Okay Jill, you've had enough time. It's time to come home.' " Jackson says the first lady is "easy to talk to" and "very approachable." While the Bidens' campaign continued toward victory in November and they relocated to the White House, Jackson and the first lady's bond remained strong. RELATE: Joe Biden's History of Love and Loss and How His Late Son's Death Changed His Political Future "I would always text her and say that 'I'm lifting you up in prayer,' " Jackson told USA Today. "She would respond back to say to me 'Thank you, my friend,' and that just continued." Tracy Glantz/The State via AP "I would never leave her out of my day of prayer," Jackson continued. "And so as I prayed for my family, as I prayed for other things in my life, I would make sure that Jill's name was called in prayer." Jackson said she was aware of how grief over the loss of a child can linger. "After learning about Beau and his death, then I fully understood now what the pain was," she told USA Today. "My texts would always reflect on knowing that you can get through this and knowing that it will be okay." Joe Biden Recalls Son Beau's Final Moments: He Said 'Dad, I'm Not Afraid' Dr. Biden credited Jackson's "kindness, her mercy and grace" — as well as the work of Rev. Jackson at Brookland Baptist Church — for "changing my life." "I'm glad that God has planned it this way," Jackson said. "It's all God that we are able to support each other and be there for each other and be sincere and true sisters."