Adele Lewis wandered through life dealing with a childhood of grief and purposelessness, always feeling something was missing. At her first visit to the Rock with her husband, Mike, they encountered the love and salvation of Jesus Christ -- and Adele found a way serve Him with all her skills and experiences.
In his book, Do Something! Make Your Life Count, Pastor Miles McPherson writes, Every possible spiritual advantage God could set aside for you, He did. He had your name placed on the plan long before even your great-great-great-grandparents were born. For one simple purpose: to prepare you to do something to make your life count (p. 20).
It took Adele five erratic decades before she discovered that plan.
A Heartless God
Adele was reared in the Washington DC area in a family of five daughters. When Adele was nine, her mother died after many years of struggling with multiple sclerosis. Her sisters and she were told not to cry because their mother was in a happier place, leaving us with nowhere to put our sadness or feelings of loss, she said.
We were never allowed to mention my mother at all, werent allowed to ask questions, talk about our memories of her. Every physical memories were taken away, recalled Adele. Her father withdrew and turned to alcohol.
Orah, a sister 18 months older than Adele, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at four. She rebelled, said Adele. She ate all the things that were bad for her, and I joined her.
By the time Adele was 14, she also had developed Type 1 diabetes. Then tragedy struck. At 21, Orah died of complications from diabetes. Adele was devastated.
All my feelings of grief and loss around my mom came barreling to the surface, landing on top of losing my closest sister and partner in crime, said Adele.
At the same time, she was growing away from the religion she was raised in. My relationship with God was weak. God was never shown to me as a loving God. I remember growing up thinking God was heartless.
Her father died five years later, when she was 26. I decided I was over the whole God thing.
In Search of Purpose
That painful childhood launched Adele into a long, rambling journey. As time passed, I threw away all concepts of God.
Because she wanted children, Adele made efforts to get her diabetes under control. She studies the human body and nutrition. She tested her blood sugar frequently and ate better. I started eating things that were thought of as weird by then [the 1970s] like whole grains, green leafy vegetables, no red meat, no preservatives and no white sugar.
Her healthier lifestyle led to two beautiful children, of whom she is immensely proud. She and her first husband and children spent 15 years in Toronto, Canada, and then moved to Florida. But the God hole wasnt filled. She divorced at 38, and decided to become a Naturopathic Doctor, studying natural and drugless therapy.
She also began to wander in search of meaning. I was looking for my purpose, she recalled. She camped alone all over the United States, spending months at a time in New Mexico and Hawaii. She explored religions and philosophies outside Christianity. I still held a belief in a higher power but was constantly feeling desperation.
Her diabetes worsened, and she went to recuperate at a sister's in Washington state. Before obeying a nudge to move to San Diego, she realized she did believe in God, yet I still did not know how to make a connection with Him.
Then I met my husband, Mike, and my heart opened, said Adele. Mike Lewis, retired from the Air Force, runs a pool-cleaning business in Coronado. We both acknowledged to each other a strong belief in God, thought we were still confused about the details!
She remembers now hearing or reading about the Rock Church and the many thousands of people who attend. I thought, they must be doing something right, she said.
So she and Mike visited one Sunday. This is how she describes it.
"We stood in the sanctuary with 3,500 people enjoying an amazing worship experience with the Katinas with tears of love pouring down our cheeks. We were home. And we had found God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I was shown a picture of a loving God, of a savior in Jesus who was always there for me with love and compassion; a forgiving God. I have attended church almost every week since then and every week something touches my heart so profoundly I tear up; whether its the music, someone relating their personal experience finding God and doing His work, or listening to Miles speak so magnificently about JESUS and how He would like us to relate to Him and to obey Him"
The Purpose of the Pain
That was the summer of 2008. Then Adele heard the call, as she puts it, to do something. She started a Diabetes Ministry.
Adele and her fellow volunteers lead a support group meeting and Bible study every Tuesday at 6:30 PM at the Rock. Its for people who have pre-diabetes or Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes; help someone who does; or just want to know more about the disease.
The ministry also is building bridges into the community, with the goal of being a support network. Adele sees now that her administration experience, medical training, teaching experience, along with all her failings and successes with her own diabetes, have prepared her to uphold the the vision of the Diabetes Ministry.
Its a way to help others using my own painful experiences, she said. God in all his grace and mercy was guiding me to my purpose. Even after so many years of turning my back on Him, He still found a way through all my hurt, pain, and rejection of Him, to educate and train me with the skills I would need to do His work!
For more info on the Diabetes Ministry, visit sdrock.org/ministries/diabetes or contact [email protected]
For more information about the Diabetes Ministry, click here »