By Marsha M. Brown
Believe It or Not
Those of you who typically read GIG LINE have no doubt witnessed frequent testimony about my faith in our Heavenly Father. While many of you are on the same page having experienced answers to your prayers or occurrences that cannot be explained beyond a ‘miracle’ that further confirm your faith, some of you may wonder what faith, God and Jesus Christ His son or the Holy Spirit have to do with a weekly column that focuses on Veterans.
In the book I am working on I will go into much more detail about why I believe and how it came to be that my faith is so strong but for now I will tell you that this column came to be because of the Lord. And through this column, I have been blessed so many times, it would be impossible to count the times or the ways.
I’ve never believed that we can ever truly know what is in someone else’s heart; that expressions of spiritual love can’t be measured like a cup of water, and many don’t always show externally what they feel inside. We have different ways to show our faith…I’m just thankful for what I personally feel and why.
This week ends a bit somber for me and many who are members or regular attendees of Manteo First Assembly of God. Our Pastor (who I have always called ‘Preacher Steve’ Smith and his precious wife Becky are relocating to Charlotte after having served not only members but our communities and families all over Dare County for eleven years.
My sweet husband ‘Billy’ grew up a ‘P.K.’ (Preacher’s Kid), his Dad having pastored Baptist churches for most of Billy’s life. His parents were strict and regimented about some things that almost seemed more like evangelical or Pentecostal faith in some ways than Southern Baptist and while my Mama was raised Catholic and Daddy Methodist, I decided in my early teens that I wanted to join Manteo Baptist Church where at the time, Billy’s Daddy was the preacher. That was before I knew Billy as he was three grades ahead of me in school.
I learned a lot over the years through Sunday School, B.T.U., Sunday morning worship and just being involved in a church family and I cherish those beautiful memories. The sound of the church bell or chimes ring before service, the youth group meetings, and the overall feeling of belonging there where others of all ages who also believed in God our Father, Heaven, and forgiveness worshiped. And…I learned something else too…I learned that those who are called into the ministry are not perfect; they should not be put on a pedestal or believed to be faultless. They make mistakes, sometimes say things they wish they could take back and at times wish they had said more…they are human…just like us. But unlike us…they are called into the ministry to help others find the way to salvation, to a relationship with the Lord, to believe in something that isn’t tangible per say but none the less very real…they are special, they are anointed, they are entrusted with the assignment to teach, inspire and win over the rest of us to believe, trust and accept faith for what it is…an authentic and much needed calm; peace and confidence that God is alive; that He does perform miracles; that He does hear our prayers and very importantly…that all of our prayers do not result in our heart’s desire. However, in my life I found that the timing for an answer to prayer is in His time…not always in mine and I accept that is His will.
After Billy’s parents were ‘called’ to pastor & live in Grifton, Snow Hill and LaGrange, N.C. and while Billy and I loved our church, we visited Manteo First Assembly for an event to honor our veterans and it was a moving, and exceptional service. From that point forward, we continued to attend and worship there often.
About the time ‘Preacher Steve’ and Becky came to pastor there, I had an irregular heart rhythm or A-fib and I went to Outer Banks Hospital. My best friend and prayer partner ‘Bibber’ Clark called ‘Preacher Steve’ to let him know I was in the E.R. and he came to see me. When he arrived, he not only prayed for/with Billy and I, but he anointed me with oil…the first time I had ever seen that done. And I have to tell you …my heart was erratic, and the meds they had already administered to me was not calming it down…it was really out of whack. They told me they wanted me to go to Albemarle Hospital by ambulance and when I asked if Billy could take me instead, they said absolutely not…that I had to be monitored in an ambulance period. Was I scared? Yes of course.
At that time, I had just transacted the sale/closing of the Rodanthe oceanfront cottage ‘Serendipity’ known by its setting for the movie, ‘Nights in Rodanthe’. My stress level was through the roof as the entire process of not only selling the house itself but determining an alternate location for the house to move it to in order to save it. Negotiating the sale of the lot we moved the house to as well as the severe peril the house was in at the time with extreme over wash etc. was at a peak to say the least.
I had requested our Hatteras Island surveyor, Don Rankin, who I trusted explicitly to shoot the elevation the day before Expert Movers were scheduled to move the house and the result showed it was leaning east toward the ocean considerably compared to the elevation Don had shot some time before…there was no time to waste.
I loved my clients, and I was worried something would happen before the physical move could take place…it was a big deal. They were good people who loved the house and who wanted to bring it back to life having been recently condemned due to its perilous situation. It had suffered years of storms and over wash and while the current owners/sellers had done all they could to keep it going…time, winds, storms, and the elements had taken its toll and the time had come to unfortunately cut bait.
Needless to say, I knew I had exercised every good Realtor ethic and care for my clients who fully knew the risk of purchasing it, but the elements were not in my control, and I was worried for them…not the commission…them. Fortunately, the house was moved successfully to the lot I had negotiated south of where it had been all those years, and we could take a deep breath…finally.
But…the hospital stay and ‘Preacher Steve’ coming to see me that night before they transported me to Elizabeth City and not having ever met me prior; praying for me and anointing me with oil gave me courage, calm and confidence that I would be alright. And my Albemarle Hospital stay was only for two nights as the medicine they put me on allowed the rhythm to re-stabilize and get back in sync…so to say I was thankful is an understatement.
That was back in January 2010, and over the years since then my steadfast Baptist ‘P.K.’ came to love both ‘Preacher Steve’ & Becky and cherish their pastoral love of the Lord, their grace, their integrity, and their genuine friendship.
When Billy and I wanted to plan annual programs for our veterans…it was embraced by Preacher Steve and when I asked to organize craft shows in the Youth House…they embraced that idea too and supported our interest and efforts on the church’s behalf which meant a lot to both of us.
I will miss them so much. Preacher Steve & his family have been in the ministry for 40 years…they have witnessed miraculous things in their lives too especially with their daughter Sarah’s Stage 4 cancer when she was five years old, her recovery and healing and her marriage to the love of her life in May of 2021!
I love the Smiths’ very much and I am grateful for their prayers, visits, concern, the songs Becky sung to Billy when he was so sick laying on that hospital bed at our home and in the Rehab for physical therapy in Durham before we realized it was a futile effort and for the sincere prayer ‘Preacher Steve’ prayed over him only hours before Billy passed when he prayed to God to “Take this brave soldier home”. I will never forget that, nor will our children and grandchildren. A note: after that prayer, Preacher left our house and while we were sitting at Billy’s bedside, he opened his eyes and lifted his right hand and with no one touching or provoking him…he reached out as if to grasp someone’s hand and he shook it…a handshake to who? Was it the Lord? Was it Jesus? Was it an angel greeting him into Heaven? God only knows but when Billy did that, he smiled and shut his eyes. Only hours later, Billy left this world on his flight to Heaven.
Our devoted ‘Preacher Steve’ of Manteo First Assembly is leaving to retire in Charlotte this weekend and though we will miss him, Becky and their daughter Sarah and her husband Gage, (who had actually planned to move to Charlotte before her parents did), we will reflect, remember, and cherish the memories we made together…all of us at the church…and for all the heartfelt prayers, witness and loving inspiration bringing us all closer to God which strengthened our faith under his teaching and leadership.
My one-of-a-kind husband, Billy, who I simply adore six years now since his passing appreciated ‘Preacher Steve’ and his honesty; his genuine love for our community; for his close relationship with the Dare Challenge students/leaders and for his constant praise and support of the other churches around us. We will miss them so much…but too, we will celebrate this new chapter in their lives blessing the folks around Charlotte like they have blessed us Outer Bankers’.
Faith…it helped Billy throughout his life…I hope and pray that everyone reading this GIG LINE think about how it can get you through your darkest hour. I love you all…each one of you. I thank God for his Son, Jesus Christ and for our Veterans and Active-Duty servicemen and women. God bless you all.
If you would like to chat, call my cell: (252) 202-2058 or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org – also for previous GIG LINE writings, please see www.giglineheroes.com If you wish to talk with Patty O’Sullivan, Dare County Veteran Service Officer, call her office (252) 475-5604, her work cell: (252) 473-7749 or email her: email@example.com Take care everybody…be healthy, safe and happy and until next time…stay tuned!