Update: Congratulations to April C., Melody T., and Julie B. for winning this giveaway!

On March 8, 2009, a gun-wielding man entered the sanctuary of First Baptist Maryville, Ill., opening fire on the pastor, Rev. Fred Winters. Rev. Winters was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

In her beautiful and heart-wrenching memoir Reflections from the PitRev. Winters’ wife, Cindy, recounts her experience and journey toward healing. Here’s an excerpt from the book:

Photo Courtesy of Urban Christian News

Photo Courtesy of Urban Christian News

March 8th started off like a regular Sunday morning for us.  It was time change Sunday, so when the alarm clock went off, I felt a little more exhausted than usual, but other than that the events in our home were going along like normal.  Fred got up to put the finishing touches on his sermon and I attempted to go back to sleep.  For some reason I couldn’t, so I decided that morning that I would exercise before getting ready for church.  As I went downstairs, I heard a noise coming out of our daughter Alysia’s room.  I opened the door to find her awake, dressed, and perky.  She told me she wanted to go with her dad to the early service and help out in the childcare.  Her perkiness caught me off guard and sending her back to bed seemed a waste, so I said, “Yes.” I went downstairs to exercise and a short time later I heard them say they were leaving.  I had no idea that would be the last time I would hear Fred’s voice, his footsteps…he closed the door for the last time and left.

My younger daughter Cassidy and I headed off to church and as we descended over the hill on the main road in front of the church we saw fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances everywhere.  I couldn’t believe the amount of emergency response vehicles.  In my amazement I told Cassidy that there must have been a car accident at the main entrance of the church.  I was just getting ready to tell her that we should pray, when an ambulance went flying by us.  When it did, I noticed that cars were lined up on the shoulder of the road and in these cars were people I recognized from church.  I was confused as to why these cars weren’t being diverted to the side entrances and gotten off the street.  I was in a line of traffic and as each car inched along, a fire fighter was addressing the cars and telling them what to do.  I was approached by the fire fighter and told that there had been an incident at the church and I needed to pull over; he pointed to a street that ran on the side of the church.  I explained to him that my husband was the pastor and asked if everything was ok, “Ma’am, you need to pull over” was his response.

As I turned on the side street, my cell phone rang.  Calling me was a friend who lived in a completely different part of the state.  She immediately said, “Cindy, Cindy, everything is going to be okay.”  I asked her what she was talking about and after a pause she began praying for me.  As she was praying for me another call came in.  A friend from church and co-worker was calling me, asking if I knew what was going on.  I said that I didn’t, hung up, parked the car and got out.

A car was pulling up behind me and as the lady in the car got out, I asked her if she knew what was going on.   She didn’t answer and started walking towards me.  I looked to the front of the car and two men were walking coming in my direction. The woman said to the men, “She doesn’t know.”  As the three of them surrounded me, their backs were to the church and I got my first good look at the entrance to the church building.  I could tell by the amount of emergency response vehicles pressed up close to the door of the church, that a car accident had not taken place, but something much more serious.

I asked what had happened and they were silent.   I asked again, no response.  I could feel panic and urgency begin to well up within my stomach.  I looked in the face of one of the men standing there.  He was a good friend of ours, someone that Fred and I trusted and respected as a man of integrity.  I directly said to him, “You have to tell me what has happened.”  I will never forget the deep sigh he took and the expression that came over his face before he uttered the words, “Fred’s been shot.”

I was escorted to the hospital down the street.  As soon as I arrived, a helicopter took off and my fear was that Fred had been injured so badly that he had to be airlifted to St. Louis.  We were told that he was still there and I think I took my first breath of relief.

I met with a charge nurse and was told that Fred’s injuries were serious.  Even during this conversation, I never once thought that Fred wasn’t going to be okay, actually the opposite was true; I had confidence that everything was going to be fine.  The nurse asked me if I would like to see Fred and of course I said, “Yes” and took that as a good sign.  In just a few minutes I was escorted to his room.

When I entered, I first saw Fred’s feet and thought how strange it was that they were yellow.  The backs of the emergency room staff were facing me and as I saw them I immediately felt a sense of gratitude for all that they were doing to help Fred, so I verbalized that, and as soon as I did, one of the nurses turned around.  She had tears rolling down her cheeks and she said, “I am so sorry for your loss.”  I felt my heart quicken in pace as I asked, “Sorry?” “Yes” she said, “I am so sorry.”  I choked out the words, “You mean he’s dead?”  “Yes, we just called it.”

Cindy is joining LifeWay Women Sept. 26-27 in Tulsa, Ok. for Between Us, an event for ministers’ wives. Today on the blog, we’re giving three individual women a ticket to the Between Us event as well as a copy of Cindy’s book. (Note: The Between Us event registration only includes admission to the event itself and does not cover travel, food, or lodging expenses).

Are you a minister’s wife? Enter to win by leaving a comment with your name along with the name of the church where your husband serves on staff! Maybe you want to enter for your pastor’s wife? You can do that, too!

By entering today’s giveaway, you acknowledge LifeWay Christian Resource’s official promotion rules found hereToday’s giveaway starts at the posting time of this blog and ends next Thursday (8/1/13) at 11:59 p.m. CST. You must be 18 to enter, and you may only enter once. The winner will be selected at random. For questions about the rules and regulations of this giveaway, please contact Bud Harlan at One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-140.

Comments

  1. The church where my husband pastors, Kirkwood Baptist in Bozeman MT, was recently broken into and vandalized. I remember the chilling fear I felt that night, thinking that the vandals might return during service and attempt violence. This dear sister has endured our worst earthly fear and tragedy. I am anxious to read her story.

  2. Jeannie Abbott says:

    Would LOVE to attend this! First Baptist Church, Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

  3. Chastity Cawley says:

    Emmanuel Baptist Church. Columbia Ms.

  4. Nicki Glenn says:

    Stetson Baptist Church in DeLand, FL

  5. sharon smith says:

    I would love to be able to come to this event. Ministry is tough at times to live through. These events are such an encouragement to Minister’s wives. Let’s us see we are not alo e and encourages us and challenges us to finish the race!
    My husband is at Cottondale Baptist Church, Cottondale AL

  6. Denise Banderman says:

    Esther Baptist Church, Park Hills, MO

  7. Kristen Hull says:

    My husband and I have just recently moved to Parsons, KS where he has taken his first Senior Pastorate. We’ve been youth pastors for the past 6 years! I am a new, young, Pastors wife and would love to attend this event!

  8. Kathy Quarles says:

    I’d like to enter my pastor’s wife, Sarah Grisham, of First Baptist Church, Jasper, TN.

  9. Danielle Griner says:

    My husband is pastor of Pine Grove Baptist Church in Blackshear, GA. Very exciting give away!

  10. Kelly Borst says:

    New Beginnings Christian Church, Tampa, FL

    What a powerful story.

  11. Aurora M. Quinones says:

    When I was a child, my father was pastor of a Mexican congregation in Tucson, Arizona. The church was situated in a rough neighborhood…we had rags with oil and fire thrown into the church, while we were in prayer meetings…dog poop squished on our car windows…Rocks were hurled at us as we went into the sanctuary!! So much…. that I was terrified of going to church…but, God took care of us every Sunday during sunday school and evening worship services, Wednesday evenings prayer meetings!! Now we attend a big church and I remember what we went through I just PRAISE the LORD; it is easier to worship now then when I was a child.

  12. My husband serves at Grace Falls in Fayetteville, TN. I would love to be able to attend this!

  13. My husband pastors Sweetwater Baptist Church in Waycross, GA. He is newly ordained, and so we are new to the ministry. This is a very exciting giveaway!

  14. Tammy Carr says:

    My husband actually attended Midwestern Seminary with Rev. Winters. Our hearts were deeply saddened by the news of Rev. Winters death. I would love to hear Cindy speak at the Ministers Wives Conference and even though I plan to buy a copy of her book right away, I would love to give a copy to another minister’s wife.

    Tammy Carr

  15. My husband is pastor of Lakeview Chapel, Lake Elsinore, CA. I too would benefit greatly from attending this event. The nature of our calling … that of a Pastor’s wife … keeps our focus on the needs of others … our husbands, our congregation, groups we lead, etc.. It would be refreshing to assume the role of ‘ministeree’.

  16. Sandra Golightly says:

    I’m a member of Webb Baptist Church in Arlington, TX. I’m actually entering the contest for a ticket in hopes of winning one for our pastor’s wife, Becky. I can’t begin to understand the difficulties our pastors and their families go through. Would love to be able to offer this to her to maybe minister whatever needs she has.

  17. Debbie Butler says:

    I would love to attend.
    CrossPointe Church Norman, Ok

  18. Kris Konick says:

    (Entering for my pastor’s wife) Pastor Rex and Mrs. Luanne Jones – currently serving at The Lighthouse United Methodist Church in Elizabeth, Indiana. I am entering for my pastor’s wife. You could not meet two more awesome people who love to serve God and who truly live out a life devoted to others.

  19. I would love this opportunity! I am so blessed .

  20. Janis Walton says:

    I would love to attend an event such as this. Unfortunately, funds keep me away.
    I love it that you are going to give some blessed pastor’s wife a way to go. Kudos.

  21. Mary Sandifer says:

    My husband is senior pastor at Potomac Heights Baptist Church in Indian Head, MD. I really want to go to this conference. Could really use the encouragement right now.

  22. My hubby is senior pastor at FBC Heath in Heath, OH. I would love to take our two young ministers wives with me.

  23. Mary Moffeit says:

    I enjoy going to Minister’s wives conferences. It’s a time we can share our joys and our struggles as minister’s wives. I’ve already purchased my ticket and am looking forward to it. Thank you for sharing!

  24. Would love to hear more of your journey with Jesus!

  25. Ceal Pate says:

    First Baptist Church Greenwood, MS

  26. Forgot . Hubby and I just started new ministry at FBC wilburton.ok

  27. My husband pastor’s at Grace Community Church in the country town of Montpelier, IN. I would love to attend the retreat! :)

  28. Gerr Pruegert says:

    I would like to enter my Pastor’s Wife Elizabeth Graver Twin Oaks Wagoner, we have had many “incidents” recently and I think this would really encourage her. Thank you!

  29. My husband is a church planter in Pine Bluff, AR. I remember when this happened and praying for Cindy for weeks afterward. I don’t know her, but thermos a kinship between ministers’ wives.

  30. Thank you for your ministry of encouragement. My hubby of 31 years pastors Calvary Bible Church in Derry, NH.

  31. April Cobb says:

    Would love to have this opportunity to spend a weekend getting to know other minister’s wives and their stories! What an awesome opportunity!
    Southside Baptist Church
    Dothan, AL

  32. Emily Madison says:

    My husband is the pastor at Fredonia Baptist Church in New Albany, MS.

  33. Michele Williams says:

    New Church plant
    Ekklesia
    St. Charles, mo

  34. What an awesome opportunity!!! My husband serves the First UB Church where he Pastors and heads up the Legacy Movement (legacyleavers.org) Who could pass up on Pastor wives getting together like this!!

  35. We serve FBC Cleveland, MS. I’ve been praying about attending this event, & am so glad that Lifeway is ministering to minister’s wives. :) Blessings of the Lord upon all of you.

  36. Wow. I know I’m too late to enter but wow.
    Sounds like I need to go to that conference! How can I get details?
    Victory baptist church, Madison, MS

  37. My husband serves as Director of Missions at East TN Baptist Association in Newport, TN. We serve and minister to 38 churches. I work with the Ministers Wives and know there is a great need for ministry to ministers wives across our nation. Thanks for all you do, LifeWay!

  38. Would love to go to this conference!! My husband has been pastor at our church for 29 years. I would love to attend this particular conference because it would be an encouragement not only to me but to a very good friend of mine who lives near Tulsa whose daughter passed away with cancer and was only in her 30’s. we could go together and enjoy this event!!

  39. Leigh Ann Werner says:

    I would love to attend and read Cindy’s book! My husband is the pastor of Rocky Ridge Baptist Church in Donalsonville, GA.

  40. Lisa Andrews says:

    My name is Lisa Andrews and my husband is the associate pastor at Lineville Baptist Church in Alabama. I can’t wait to find out who receives this blessing!!

  41. My name is Deb Colston and my husband and I serve at Memorial Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. I am just in awe of this woman of God that He is using for His Glory and her good. What a blessing to meet her in person and hear the rest of the story straight from her about everything God is to us as His children serving Him moment by moment……….

  42. My husband is pastor of Hyattsville Baptist Church, Lancaster, KY. It would be an honor to attend this event. Is it possible to enter our Minister of Music’s wife as well? Their names are Dan and J.J. McClelland.

  43. Dawn Bourne says:

    My husband is the pastor of Mill Creek Baptist Church in Eureka, FL-would love to attend this event.

  44. Sheryl Simpson says:

    My name is Sheryl and my husband pastors New Life Baptist Church in Culpeper VA

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