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Click HERE to read from the beginning.


The last article I wrote for NOLA.com’s faith blog set me on a new path. I was writing a series called “First Time Guest.” When my husband worked on Sundays, I visited a random church, and then wrote about my experience. I was surfing the internet in search of a church to visit when I stumbled upon Flames of Fire Church and recognized the pastor.

I first encountered Wanda’s ministry in the early 1990s. At the conclusion of her message, she asked my husband and me to come to the altar. Among other things God wanted us to know that changes were coming. We should not be worried or concerned because the changes were from him.

I don’t trust every “word from God” spoken to me, but neither do I take them lightly. God will tell us what he is going to do before he does it. On the way out, I purchased an audio copy of the service so could write down everything she said to us and discuss it with my husband. We concluded God might lead us to another church, or he would open a different ministry for Rod within the church. Our conclusion was almost accurate. I was the one moved to a different ministry that led me to writing.

Dramatic change came to our church when our much-loved pastor resigned, and every ministry leader in the church left except Rod and the deacons. The unexpected loss of the church’s leadership stunned the congregation. Rod and I were not concerned. God already told us to expect change. Rod was not finished working with children, but I was. Our new pastor asked me to teach an adult class, which I agreed to do temporarily until they found a replacement teacher. I taught for seven years and wrote enough material for seven books.

I visited Flames of Fire thinking I would be a stranger. Instead, I encountered a group of friends visiting the church because their pastor was the guest speaker. Pastor Rusty’s children had attended my husband’s children church in the 1980s.

During the service I witnessed God’s faithfulness. When we attended the same church in the 80s, Rusty felt a calling to ministry, but his wife had left him before he became a Christian. They divorced, and he remarried. At that time if a candidate for ministry was divorced, he was automatically disqualified.

Our pastor recognized the call of God on Rusty’s life. Since the divorce happened before Rusty became a Christian, our pastor told him to apply for credentials and he would ask them to waive the rule.

One Sunday, between Sunday school and the main service I asked Rusty if he had received the papers to become credentialed yet.

“They refused to give me papers, because I am divorced,” he said.

I walked into the sanctuary with Rusty. Shortly after the service started a message in tongues was given. The interpretation told me how attentive God is to us, “Papers, papers, who needs papers. I will make you a fire.”

I never forgot that interpretation. God is not limited by our inaccurate interpretations of the Bible that exclude and discourage people instead of building them up. Two decades later, Rusty fulfilled his calling as pastor of an independent church. After he preached, Wanda concluded the meeting and said to Rusty, “I see a fire in you.” God gave Rusty what man denied him and kept his word to make him a fire.

Rusty introduced me to Pastor Wanda before he left. I was no longer a random stranger and that spoiled the first-time guest experience. I abandoned the article to write a profile about her ministry. When I interviewed her, we had a lengthy conversation about women in ministry. I shared the conflicts I’d had with pastors, and how the church had no place for my gifts. She shared similar experiences with pastors, and how her gift of prophecy was rejected by some who believe the gifts of the Spirit died with the Apostles. Then we went to lunch.

God must have eavesdropped on that conversation, just like he did when Rusty and I talked about “papers.” While we were eating, Wanda said, “The Lord says he has a place for you, and it will open soon.”


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