Northview Stories Pennie Zion Story: Our Plan, His Steps

April 29, 2021

Pennie Zion Story: Our Plan, His Steps
By Sara Salako

Pennie Zion had gotten engaged and was transitioning between jobs. Northview Church was a new adventure, and so was Christianity. The future was looking bright: 2017 was certainly her year.

Following a 33-year marriage and seven years post-divorce, Pennie believed Michael was her new beginning.

Or so she thought. Only weeks after their engagement, Michael Berry, age 60, died of a heart attack on his way to work. They had finished talking on the phone not even 30 minutes before.

Pennie reflects on her short time attending Northview’s Anderson Campus with Michael.

“He was raised in the church but had moved away from the faith for a long time. I feel good because I know where he went,” she said. “I wanted to be with Michael, but it was God’s timing. I had clung to something that was my plan and not his. In dating you can often forget that it’s not your plan - it’s God’s,” she said.

Unlike Michael’s upbringing, Pennie’s parents refused to attend church. The only way she or her siblings visited church during their childhood was if a relative offered to drive.

Pennie and Michael went to church every week and Michael reconnected with the Lord. He was motivated to consistently attend and began initiating prayer and worship at home. Pennie also said that Michael cared about her character and was waiting to be intimate until marriage.

Two weeks after Michael’s passing, Pennie accepted Christ and was baptized at Northview. She plunged into a life group, devoted herself to prayer, and got as involved in the church community as possible.

“I remember I kept praying, ‘God, what should I do?’ And I felt that [church] was something I needed to lean into. God just said to trust him and that he would take care of the rest,” Pennie said. “I knew that God had more planned for my life.”

Pennie wasn’t done seeking all that God had in store for her at Northview. She served every week in the kids’ ministry and went on to host her own life group. She wholeheartedly believes that what is sown in a community is given back tenfold.

“It’s all about commitment,” she said.

So how did she manage to hold onto the promises of God during this time of deep loss?

“I used to sit in the auditorium at church and just cry. One time a couple came over and asked if they could pray for me. Then I prayed for them and everything they were going through. Northview is full of mutual relationships. You just have to open yourself up to be seen.”

Pennie also found mutually supportive and dedicated relationships in her life group. “Being able to verbalize my story and be surrounded by women of great faith was what uplifted and supported me,” Pennie said.

At age 62, she has been faithfully attending Northview for four years, and all of her grandchildren are being raised in the church.

Pennie’s experiences before and after Northview were like night and day.

“Oh, my life is one hundred percent different. God was always there, I just needed to turn around. I really felt like God was pursuing me, but I just wasn’t showing up for God,” Pennie said. “God’s got you. Yes, he certainly does.”

The Lord has now brought her new fiance, Rex Baugher, into the picture. They met online late last year and got engaged in January 2021. Anderson Campus Pastor Nate Nupanga will officiate the wedding on Aug. 7.

Now, Pennie wants to help encourage those going through periods of grief or trial.

“Don’t turn away from God or the people that love you in times of despair,” Pennie said. “I always felt so welcomed and accepted at Northview. You know, as adults it can be easy to hide. But the more involved you get, the more people can pour back into your life.”

Rex and Pennie have seen the Lord’s hand in everything along the way. In their marriage they plan to continue growing in faith side-by-side, honoring God every day.


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