I have had many many people influence my walk with the Lord. I have learned from people of all ages, from all over the world, from all walks of life; from people I have known for years, to someone I met on an airplane and spoke to for 10 minutes. God has put the most amazing people in my life and I am so eternally grateful for that. Although it would be literally impossible to acknowledge them all, I want to share a few words about my friend, Colin Tweddell.
I met Colin a few times when I visited a church he and my daughter mutually attended. I remember thinking that “Tweed”, as he was introduced, seemed like a nice gentleman. Some time later, I started attending a brand new house church called Ignition Church which just happened to meet in the Tweddell’s Newark home. I met Colin again, along with his wife, Ruth and several other members of his family, and my original opinion of this man was confirmed.
I was searching so hard for God. I was a Christian. I had my free ticket to heaven, but I didn’t really know God. There was no real relationship. I don’t think I really felt like God even knew I existed. I mean, He is the God of the universe! Why would He want to be bothered with the likes of me? But I desperately wanted to know Him better. I instinctively knew that there was more to it than salvation (see my blog about going to the fair) but I had no idea where or how to find it.
Colin was a man who loved the Lord. He longed to be obedient to God, to follow Him no matter what that looked like, no matter who thought what of him. He absolutely believed that God could, would and DOES work miracles yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He knew scripture better than many pastors and, more than that, he LIVED it. He encouraged everyone to walk a path of discovery and obedience to Christ. He poured into those around him with absolute deliberate fervency.
Every other Saturday, Ignition holds a 2 hour Bible study with an emphasis on the gifts from God’s Holy Spirit. We call it, appropriately, “The Gifts Meeting”. At this meeting, all of the gifts of the Spirit are explored and examined and discussed. It starts at 11 am and is supposed to end by 1. We try, but honestly, we usually go into overtime.
When I first started attending these meetings, I remember sometimes feeling a bit discouraged. When we talked about prophecy or evangelism or tongues or sight or discernment. I remember thinking that God had obviously forgotten to give me a gift. I don’t speak in tongues, or prophesy, or see in the spirit. I don’t have dreams (unless I eat spicy food too close to bedtime) or have visions.
Without fail, just as I started to feel like I must not be very valuable to God or His Kingdom, Colin would lift his hand and speak. He would remind us all that, although we are directed to seek after them, the gifts of the Spirit are not limited to “the higher gifts”. God does gift some with service and hospitality and probably even stuff like math! He reminded us over and over of the importance of what he called “clerical gifts” and that the body is no good if all it has is vital organs. A properly functioning body needs all of its parts! Oh how I appreciated that!
When I first began attending Ignition, my husband chose not to accompany me. Like so many people, we were disillusioned with “organized religion” and while I was still searching for more, Cory was pretty much done with “church”. Every week, Colin would ask about him and encourage me to keep praying and remind me that I was not praying alone. He was sure that Cory would start coming!
In May of 2016, I was diagnosed with cancer. Surgery, chemo and radiation treatments took up the next several months of our lives. I missed very few worship services. I was so in love with Jesus and I did not want to even think about going through cancer treatment without Him. Cory started to come with me to worship services on Sunday mornings to support me but he refused to attend the men’s Sunday school class that Colin led (he would sit in the car until church started). Still, Colin encouraged me to pray. “Keep praying Beth,” he would say. “God is doing something.”
In January of 2017, while I was still undergoing daily radiation treatments, I rushed Cory to the ER with chest pains. (For that story, please see his blog about God giving him a new heart). I remember, before he was admitted, asking him if he was okay with me texting Greg and Alexis (our pastors and Colin’s son and daughter-in-law) to ask them to get the church praying. He agreed. Colin and Greg came and visited Cory every day that he was in Christiana hospital. They prayed for him and with him whether he was conscious and could pray with them or not. They battled for his healing and he noticed! God, the way only He is able, turned a horrible nightmare into a glorious beginning. Cory and Colin became good friends and Cory never sat in the car for Men’s Class again.
Last spring, God called us to full time ministry as missionaries to Nigeria. We packed what we needed, sold or gave away what we didn’t, and put our empty house on the market. There was a lot of unknown in those days. The biggest was a biggie! Our house was literally empty. Where were we going to stay until we left for Nigeria? Wow, Colin and Ruth offered to let us live in their house. Talk about good friends!
One night, I was up late sitting in the living room at their house working on something or other, and Colin came downstairs for a snack. He was wearing his pj’s and looked pretty sleepy. He stopped a few steps from the bottom and just looked at me.
“Why are you always in my seat?” he asked.
Honestly, I was so surprised, I began stammering apologies and started to move out of his seat
He just laughed at me and said, “It’s okay. I will just have to make it my reminder that every time I sit down in my seat, I need to pray for you.”
One night several weeks later, I was up late again, feeling sorry for myself about something or other, (perhaps the coffee supply was dwindling or we had no hot water or the AC was out or I was thinking about doing the equivalent of 3 weeks laundry in a 5 gallon bucket) when my messenger notification dinged.
“Hi Beth. I am sitting in our chair and wanted you to know that I am praying for you.”
Colin went home to Jesus on November 1st. I will miss him so much. He was funny (except most of the time his jokes were WAY above my head), and he was honest and faithful. I rejoice at his current circumstances and I look forward to seeing him again.