A warm welcome back to Terry and Cindy Dole. These longtime members have been attending church for the last year after an absence of more than two decades! They were joyfully rebaptized on October 10 at the first service. Terry is a retired Respiratory Therapist and Cindy is a Hospice RN.
At the baptism, Terry said, “I want to thank the Lord for leading me and Cindy back to his church, for his patience, and for a warm welcome back by our church family.” Terry loves reading and studying the Bible. He feels closer to the Lord than he ever has.
Cindy also shared: “We thank everyone for making us feel comfortable returning to church. Today is a very emotional day for us. We got up early to pray, and we read about the baptism of Jesus to prepare for this moment. We think of today as our preparation day, like the preparation for the Sabbath, only this is our Preparation day for the rest of our lives. Thank you all for making us feel loved and accepted back into the church.”
At the baptism, Cindy shared part of the remarkable story of the divine appointments that led them back to church after years away. We thought you might like to know the rest of the story! Here it is in Cindy’s words.
Terry & Cindy Dole By Cindy Dole
I was 19 years old when I first came into the church through a Joe Crews Revelation seminar. When you’re 19 years old, you don’t always realize everything you don’t know. As you mature you realize just how much you really don’t know at 19.
Somewhere along our journey, we stopped attending church. We watched Doug Bachelor DVDs and then YouTube videos for approximately the past 20 years. We started watching the Lansing live-stream about 4 years ago, as well as John Bradshaw. When watching sermons from your living room couch, it’s easy to become complacent and it becomes easy to continue to attend church virtually.
When we first decided to travel out to Washington state and Oregon for my job as a travel nurse, we prayed about going because we were leaving family behind and have never been so far away from our family before. When we arrived in Washington state, we went to the market to shop for groceries. When we got to the checkout lane the gentleman checking us out asked us where we were from. It was a very small town and we stood out as the new people in town. We told him that we were from Michigan and he asked if we had heard of Andrews University and we said, “Of course!” He said his brother went to school there and was the local pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist church. We replied, “ Well, we are Seventh-day Adventists, too!” He gave us directions to the church.
The following Monday was my first day on the job and when I arrived to my office there was a copy of Steps to Christ on the desk next to me. I asked the secretary of the hospice company I was working for if she knew anything about this booklet and she said told me the nurse I was replacing is a Seventh-day Adventist and it was her book. Then she announced that she too was a Seventh-day Adventist. Her name was Leanne. I told her that I was also a Seventh-day Adventist and she stated she thought I might be as she overheard me asking the manager if there was a good soup and salad restaurant in the area. Two divine appointments in the first few days – in a very small town!
Leanne invited us to church and also told me that there was a health store downtown called The Grist Mill that was owned and operated by Seventh-day Adventists. They sold food products like the ABC did. Terry and I went there to buy our Fri-Chik, flour, Choplets, and other items. The owner of the Grist Mill asked me if I was the Seventh-day Adventist nurse that had taken his wife’s place in the hospice company (news travels fast in a small town) and I said “Yes!” He invited us to Vespers that next weekend at his home. Another divine appointment!
Next, we admitted a new patient up in the mountains. She and her husband lived in a small container-like home. When I walked into their house they had all kinds of
Worthington food on their shelves. During my visit with them I asked if they were any special religion and they said that they were Seventh-day Adventists, but had not been to church for many years as the wife was very ill and now being admitted to home hospice. The Lord was really trying to tell us something!!
This sweet couple had been missionaries in Haiti and raised three sons there. They helped built hospitals in Haiti. The patient had several diseases and was convinced that her many illnesses were brought on from exposure to parasites while living in Haiti. I told them I was a Seventh-day Adventist and they were delighted I would be their nurse. Because this couple lived so far up in the mountains, Terry would drive me on the days I visited the patient. Because of HIPAA laws Terry was not allowed to enter the patient’s home. Terry started visiting outside with the patient’s husband while I was taking care of
When I finished my visit Terry and I would drive the hour back down the mountain to my office. I told Leanne that the Seventh-day Adventist couple I was working with wanted to receive visits from the local pastor. Leanne notified the pastor and that afternoon he went up to visit with them. We became close with this couple and had made plans to bring a picnic lunch to them and have Sabbath lunch with them sometime before we left back to Michigan. Here we were, not yet back to church ourselves, but ministering to others that the Lord put in our path trying to connect them with a church family while the Lord was doing that same thing with us! I’ve often thought about that couple and wonder how they’re doing or if she has passed on.
Today I understand why God led us to Washington. God put these precious people in our way on this journey. Terry and I knew we were meant to travel to this small town in the mountains away from the hustle and bustle of city life. There we realized how badly we needed and wanted to get back to church.
During our time in Washington state, we would watch the Lansing Church sermons. We really enjoyed Pastor Mills’ style of preaching, so we decided when we returned home we would go back to church. This series of events had clearly showed us that is where God wanted us to be!
We got called back to Michigan early because Terry‘s father was put on hospice. Terry’s father passed away three weeks after we returned. A year or two prior to us traveling to Washington and Oregon, Jean Dickerson had reached out to us. She stopped by with a loaf of bread and a smile on her face and we visited and she invited me to a Doug Bachelor seminar that the Lansing church was having. I went to that. But I sat alone and nobody really said much to me, so I felt intimidated and uncomfortable going back by myself.
After Jean moved, she asked Sheri Christie if she would follow up on me. Sheri did, and invited me to join her ladies’ small group, but I was too busy at the time. We became Facebook friends and kept in touch there. Sheri invited me to church every Sabbath, to meetings, and gatherings. Sheri did not push me but she was certainly consistent.
I reached out to Sheri to see if Pastor Mills would do Terry’s father Lloyd’s funeral service. Sheri reached out to Pastor Mills and Pastor Mills reached out to us. We met with Pastor Mills and he was happy to do the funeral services for Lloyd (also an
SDA). Jean Dickerson has kept in touch with us over the years and is a dear friend and a wonderful Christian woman.
I visited the ABC one day after the funeral and Sheri showed me around and we started talking about attending church. The very next Sabbath, we started attending again and
reconnected with old friends. What a joy!
This story is just to show you how the Lord keeps pursuing us, even when we aren’t ready – He just doesn’t give up! We shouldn’t either. Reach out to those who have slipped away. Stay in touch with them. Keep inviting them even when they are too busy. You never know what the Lord will do when you reach out and pray for lost or straying sheep, even if it takes a while. Take the time to befriend visitors remembering it is the Lord who led them there – it just might be someone who is longing to belong to our church family again!