Transition in Ministry Part 1: An Interview with Pastor Deborah Powe

I don’t care what your title or position is, things happen in life. There is no exception, and there is no exemption. I spoke about transitions in ministry recently with Pastor Deborah Powe. She started Revealing Truth Ministries in Tampa, Florida, over thirty years ago with her husband, Greg. She shared with me her story of a double transition—a time during which her husband transitioned to be with the Lord, and she transitioned from the background to become a pastor. Here’s her story:

Pastor Deborah Powe: I still, to this day, have not found the words to describe what that I felt because everything seemed to have been well. Greg was not ill in any kind of way, but one day he had already passed away before I got home. I came into the house with no idea what was going on. I’d had a conversation with him earlier in the day, and he didn’t indicate anything was going on with him. It was a surprise, of course, because it happened all of a sudden. I just remember thinking to myself, what does this mean? That was my only question. What does this mean, God? Everything seemed to have been going well, so what am I supposed to do with this? I asked myself if I was ready for ministry because we had a succession plan. Were our children and congregation prepared for what just took place? I prayed, “God, help me make this make sense, help me to move forward with what’s going on.” I had a good group of people who surrounded me, but most people don’t know what to say and sometimes say really interesting things.

Bishop Kenneth Fuller: I would encourage people to simply say, “I love you, and I’m praying for you,” because I experienced this too when my wife passed almost two years ago. I don’t know which is more traumatic or painful. You came home and found that your husband had transitioned, while I had to watch my wife deteriorate every day for over fourteen months. It’s tough when you take care of the person you are madly in love with, the mother of your children, your buddy, your friend, your shopping partner, and you see her fade away every day.

Religion has told us that we are not supposed to grieve, but the Word tells us that we shouldn’t grieve like those with no hope. The process is like having a deep cut on your arm. It tends to get itchy as it starts to heal, or may even reopen if it’s touched a certain way. I was in the bathroom a while ago getting ready to go to work, and I started talking to Jean like we used to, but when I came out of the bathroom and looked at the bed—she wasn’t there. How were you able to process that part?

Pastor Deborah Powe: I was challenged with doing things as a reflex, too. I’d be rushing home so that we could go out to dinner, and then I would realize that I don’t have to rush home because I’m not meeting anybody for dinner. Those were moments I had to acknowledge the fact that things had changed and transitioned. In transition, something ends, and at the same time, God is building something in you for your next season.

Come back next month for Transition in Ministry Part Two and more on this thing called life.