Good News, Bad News, and More Good News

She had tears in her eyes.

“Well, I have good news and bad news…,” I gently informed her. 

2 hours before, my phone was ringing. It’s Pastor Mark, our lead pastor at Mountain View. A woman has just reached out to us, looking for a pastor to speak to regarding salvation, he tells me. Am I still at Summit and available to meet with her? Yes, and absolutely!

I wrap up making drinks for a couple other guests and finally, a cappuccino for her. Sitting across from her, she chokes up several times, unsuccessfully holding back tears and reaches for another tissue. She continues to share her story and I listen, praying and submitting to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Like so many of you, including myself, this woman grew up in the church and knew all the answers. As the figurative rains, flood, and winds of this pandemic came beating against the walls of her universe, it came crashing down. Shaken, she searched her contact list for whom she might speak to regarding matters of faith. There was only one – “my brother.” Unfortunately, her brother is deep into the Word of Faith movement and directed her to Kenneth Copeland. As she began to accept these false teachings, God kept knocking down walls. She had several health issues arise throughout the past weeks and months and started becoming furious with God. This didn’t match the God she was hearing about. Where is the health and wealth? What about all the promises of prosperity? Where is the healing? Why isn’t He doing anything for me?…

I’m uncomfortable. This is heart-wrenching. I feel the pain, the confusion, the anger. I hurt for her. Now, there are tears in my eyes.

Eventually, she heard him say something that didn’t sound right. It didn’t line up with what she knew and had been reading in the Scriptures. He said something about no longer struggling with sin anymore, that he had dealt with that long ago. “I thought, no, you can’t do that,” she commented. With no one else to help, she hopped online to search out where to find strong, biblical teaching. Concluding her research and considering her options, she decided to “find a Baptist church.” The previous two weeks had been spent trying to locate Baptist churches and connect with a pastor. I am only aware of six Baptist churches among a population around 150,000+ between ours and the neighboring municipality. Just hours before this conversation, she discovered Mountain View Baptist Church on Facebook and sent a message to request a meeting. 

Expressing great doubt of her own salvation, intense conviction of her sin, and general confusion regarding truth and its source, she wrapped up her explanation of what had brought her here before me now.

I am wrestling a range of thoughts and emotions. I feel great compassion, physical discomfort from the pain and lostness she has felt, and now I, in some lesser degree also feel the hurt. Like Christ’s own description, I see before me a bewildered and helpless sheep without a shepherd (Matthew9.35-38). But that’s not all I feel. Is it anger? I am starting to identify with Paul’s fierce opposition to false teachers to the point of wishing they might castrate themselves and suffer condemnation (Galatians 5.1-12). I might not be at that level, but I am mad at the wolves in sheep’s clothing who have deceived and lead this sheep astray. As she finished, I collected myself, saying a quiet prayer of submission and wisdom. 

“Well, I have good news and bad news…,” I gently informed her. “I can’t tell you if you are saved. Only God knows that. But I can tell you how to be saved and assure you if you simply confess Jesus is Lord, truly believe God raised him from the dead you will be saved.” We continued to speak about this beautiful gospel in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 15.1-11), God’s promise to perfect the good work He has started (Philippians 1.6), and the Holy Spirit’s gracious work of sanctification (Colossians 3, Ephesians 5, Galatians 5-6) for over an hour. As our time closed, I advised her to continue praying and reading the Word, and get into a gospel-preaching, biblical church. 

Now it is Sunday morning, we are wrapping up our praise practice, and there she is – one of the first to arrive. 

Praise God as we continue to disciple and equip this beloved daughter of His into the service for the glory of His Name!

Got some sun on one of the warmer days of our winter season while hiking

In addition to the good news that God has been so busy working in people’s hearts (and I have more stories to share!), we have some bad news, from a human perspective. We have lost a significant amount of financial support, while it is obvious by this gospel work that we haven’t lost an ounce of prayer support! Our financial reality is due to an increase in our insurance costs, which hit not long after we landed in South Africa; the realization that school fees for the children was missing from our support requirement, and a variety of reasons why some of our financial partners have been unable to maintain their support over time. Not to mention recently, poor Lola, while sitting on Lauren’s lap, vomited on Lauren’s laptop and according to the authorized Apple pro’s here, killed the MacBook completely. All of this to say, the bad news, from a human perspective, is that our financial shortage is about $2,000/month. 

If the Lord has put it on your heart to talk more about this need and our ministry, or if you would like to connect us with your pastor and church, please just send us an email (nlbell@abwe.cc) and we would be happy to share more.

But to end with good news because, thanks to the gospel, there is always good news! In addition to the best of good news, the gospel, we also know the Lord will supply all our needs as has always been the case! And that’s good news! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!