Twenty-one summers ago I was sitting in a friend’s house when her younger sister walked in. She was nine
months pregnant and too shy to look me in the face. In spite of this, I heard the Lord say, “This woman will be your friend, and she will never let you down.” That was the first time I saw my close friend, Beverly Watt.
I don’t know why Beverly joined our church. Back then we were not much to look at, a collection of seemingly mismatched people from Pittsburgh’s inner city. We met in the back room of a dilapidated church building that belied our destiny. But for some reason, this bright-eyed brunette from the suburbs drove 20 miles and back to church every Sunday morning and night and on Wednesdays, too.
Gradually I began to trust her. She became my confidant, the shoulder I cried on and the one I told how I really felt. It’s hard for a pastor’s wife to find someone who won’t share your heart secrets with anyone, but who will keep confidences. The Holy Spirit, the “Paraclete,” the “one called alongside” slipped into the skin of this Jewish girl and began to just be there. I called her “my buddy, Beev,” because she worked like a beaver at church and because we stuck together like TV’s Wally and Beaver Cleaver.
Our first project together was a newsletter called, Waters in the Wilderness. We researched the printing industry, acquired a used multigraph press, and Beev did the editing and layout. It was our way of believing the prophecies we had received in our church about God’s coming River of blessing. That was 1982.
Our families vacationed together and our children grew up together. Beev stood by Bill and me when others left the church for greener pastures. She listened to me laugh and whine as we traversed the hills and valleys of the infamous “hope and disappointment roller coaster.”
When the Toronto renewal broke out in ‘94, Beev accompanied me on my second visit, eager to see what God was doing. She embraced it immediately and testified to the church, “I know it’s God. I was three days in Toronto with Melinda Fish and didn’t go near a mall!!!”
By the end of the late ‘80’s Beverly was set apart as a deaconess. I wonder why it took that long to see her that way. After the renewal began in our church, and we realized God was here to stay, Beverly eased herself under a greater load of responsibility. We laid hands on her again, and she became our associate pastor. She trained the prayer team, preached when we were gone and began to carry the vision of spreading the gospel to other nations taking teams to foreign countries — all by herself.
In January we looked up one day and no longer saw a shy, brown-eyed Jewish girl, but someone who now carries the authority of a full-fledged pastor. We’ve stepped back to let her lead now. If you were to ask Beverly about the last twenty-one years, she might say that we were mentoring her, but to me, it seemed like she was my friend. I guess I was mentoring by accident. This issue is devoted to facing the
difficult changes that happen when the River shifts the leadership roles in a local congregation. It’s about more than equipping; it’s about moving over and letting those who are developing learn to lead even if it means risking the results of their mistakes. So I pray the Holy Spirit sends you someone like my buddy, Beev, someone you can love and trust.
Originally Published September/October 2002 Editor Melinda Fish