July 9, 2020

Former Church Member Returns After ‘Livestreamed Call’ From God

When Heidi* received the mailer advertising the Prophecies of Hope series at the Morganton Seventh-day Adventist Church, her first thought was to throw it in the trash. 

More than a decade earlier, she had left that congregation in Morganton, North Carolina, United States, because of a personality conflict. She had never returned. For some inexplicable reason, though, she left the brochure on her table for several weeks.

By the time Heidi decided to see if the Morganton church had a website, the Prophecies of Hope series had been going on at the church for about three weeks. Local pastor Steve Bietz had canceled the remaining meetings just that week because of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The regular Saturday (Sabbath) worship services at church were also canceled, and each week’s service would be livestreamed instead. 

The first Saturday that the service was livestreamed, Heidi found the church’s website. Bietz was the only one leading out in the online service, and as he called for the offering, he reminded his church family that tithe and offerings are not tied to attendance but are tied to our hearts. Heidi was struck by this thought, and on Monday she called Bietz and asked to meet with him.

On Thursday, Heidi met with Bietz and his wife, Deborah, at his church office. She proceeded to tell them that the offering call had stabbed her in the heart and that she had not given a dime to God and His church for more than 10 years. She asked if she could give her tithe and an offering to Morganton church, and Bietz responded that he would be glad to accept the money on behalf of the church. 

As Bietz and his wife watched in amazement, Heidi placed multiple bundles of cash on the desk and then laid a check on top of the large pile of cash. More than US$45,000 lay on Bietz’s desk — $25,000 of tithe and $20,000 for the local church budget.

After Bietz prayed with Heidi, he invited her back to church and told her that it was time, after a decade, to let go of the hurt feelings and come back to her church family. She told him that she knew coming back was what God was asking her to do, but that it was hard. Bietz assured her that the financial restitution she had made was a great beginning to letting go of the past, and Heidi promised to come to church after the pandemic restrictions were lifted and the church doors were open again.

The Holy Spirit impressed Heidi not to throw away a brochure from a church she had run from more than 10 years earlier. He impressed her to look for the church’s website and then to watch the livestream. The Holy Spirit impressed the pastor to speak words that, in turn, impressed Heidi that she had based her giving on attendance rather than the heart. The Holy Spirit impressed her to call the pastor and meet with him. Who knows what the Holy Spirit will impress Heidi to do next?

*Not her real name.

The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Tidings news site.