Northview Stories Betty Dean's Story: Don and I Found Eternal Life

January 27, 2019


Campus Pastor Joe Smith:
I grew up in Kokomo. So you can imagine my excitement when I knew that I was going to go back to my hometown to be the campus pastor at our newest Northview campus. One of the side benefits is I also knew that I was going to have a lot of unchurched friends and family members come and check us out. One family member in particular was my aunt, Betty, and her boyfriend, Don. They had been together maybe eight years. The family knew that they weren't the church going type. So you could imagine both our shock and excitement when they weren't just there at grand opening, but they came back and they came back week after week until one week they came up to me and said, "Hey, I think we're ready to serve. We want to be all in."

Betty Dean:
For a long time, Don and I had talked about going to church. We had -- we hadn't done it. We didn't -- there was always something else to do. The reason we went was because of Joe. That might have been the first week. The second week we went was because we enjoyed it so much. Everybody was so friendly. They were wonderful. Everything was real. It was just real.

Another big milestone was the weekend we had open baptisms. Don and Betty showed up that morning, not knowing we had open baptisms that day and they decided to get baptized. And I don't believe I've ever seen anyone celebrate more than Betty coming out of that water. It was just absolutely incredible and a celebration for everyone there.

When I got baptized it lifted a ton of weight off my shoulders. It made the world seem brighter. It made my heart happy. And I know it felt the same for Don.

It wasn't long after that baptism that our family received some pretty devastating news. And, that was that Don had cancer and that he only had a few months left with us. So, you could imagine after that Don and I spent a lot of time together. One of the things that he expressed to me in our time together was that he wanted to get married. And he felt like that was something that God was really impressing upon his heart. He asked me to marry them and I had the privilege of officiating their ceremony.

I want to read to you part of a letter that Don had written to be read at our ceremony. "And then something very unusual happened earlier this year. God came around in many forms. One of which was bringing Joe Smith, a pastor from Virginia to Kokomo. One Sunday Betty and I decided to go to his church because he's a relative and we wanted to support him. But then in going to church, I found God. It is such a burden of relief for me. So when I die, I'll die a very happy man in God's hands. I've learned a lot about religion from attending Joe's church, including that I'll go to heaven immediately."

Don passed on a Sunday, but you know what? It wasn't just any Sunday. It was significant because that was the day we celebrated our Uncharted celebration and Uncharted had truly changed Don's life forever.

Uncharted was so special. We would not have had Northview. We would not have been baptized. My husband would not have died with peace in his heart. He knew that he was going to heaven. And it was all because of Uncharted.


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