We first met Pastor Verne, before they were at their current location, at the Old Duck Lake School building, north of Muskegon, MI. Friends of ours had invited us to the evening service on Mother’s Day of 1987. Richard and I had been studying the Bible in regards to the gifts of the Spirit, but weren’t ready to attend a Pentecostal or charismatic church. On the drive to the service, I told the Lord I really did not understand how the gifts of the Spirit were to operate in my life, but I did invite Him to teach me.
That night, Pastor Verne had a gift of the Word of Knowledge for a person with lower back pain. At that time, I was going to a chiropractor, up to twice a week, but they could not keep my curved spine in alignment. So, as is Pastor Verne’s custom at his church, he invited the person with the lower back pain to come to the front for prayer. Between my being used to pain in my back, not thinking about the fact that the Lord could be talking to me with a Word of Knowledge in the middle of a service, and the thought of going forward for prayer in the middle of a service being completely foreign to me, I didn’t go forward. Pastor Verne knew it was me, so after the service he again asked that the person with the lower back pain come forward. I went forward and Pastor Verne had Sheryl Ann and her mother pray for my back. I was sitting firmly in a chair when the Lord straightened the curve in my spine, causing my hip to shoot out forward, even as I was seated. Up to this time, I had experienced supernatural healing for my daughters and much supernatural provision from the Lord, but this was my first experience of being healed from a Word of Knowledge and prayer in a church service. Pastor Verne then asked Richard and I if we had ever received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Like I said earlier, we had been studying and praying about it, so we let Pastor Verne pray for us and we both received the baptism of the Holy Spirit that night.
When Richard was working in industrial maintenance, he was on second shift for two years. This was during the time when we had The Blue House, a halfway house for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. I would often take one of the young men to Shiloh on Wednesday nights to be prayed for. At that time, I had endometriosis, recurring cysts on my ovaries, a tipped uterus and extremely painful PMS. My doctor suggested that I have a hysterectomy, but at my age at the time, I wasn’t sure I wanted a hysterectomy. Three days before the incident I am going to relate, I had asked the Lord to please heal me because I was in great pain for three out of four weeks each month. As was my custom, I brought one of the young men from the Blue House to the Wednesday night service at Shiloh. Pastor Verne again had a word of knowledge and told me from the platform, “Rhonda, I know you brought your friend to be prayed for but the Lord wants to do something for you.” I quickly went up and told him I needed all new female organs. He called the elders of the church together and they prayed for me. This particular healing wasn’t instantaneous, but the pain lessoned each day and within three days I was pain free with only normal monthly symptoms from that time on.
We finally started attending Shiloh in 1992, and shortly after that Sheryl Ann invited me to a woman’s retreat. The Holy Spirit nudged me to go, so although I was new to the church, I went with the ladies to their CMI conference. The keynote speaker was Pastor Anne Jimenez, who co-pastored with her husband, and is a highly respected preacher. That night, the Lord sent fear into my heart as He told me that I would be doing what she was doing. That was my call to pulpit ministry−the furthest thing from my mind. The next day, during the worship service, Pastor Verne confirmed the call.
When we started attending Shiloh Tabernacle, Richard and I had been ministering in the local prisons and were honored by the state to have a state recognized prison ministry. Pastor Verne and the brothers and sisters at Shiloh supported us with this vision, including becoming very involved themselves. During this time, there was an opening for a prison chaplain at one of the three local facilities in Muskegon. To be a prison chaplain, you had to be a licensed minister, so Pastor Verne honored us by licensing us as ministers, through Shiloh Tabernacle, under Calvary Ministries International.
During this time, Shiloh Tabernacle had a television ministry and Sheryl encouraged my to do a weekly show teaching the truths of the crucified life and victorious Christian living through the power of the cross. It was only on a local channel and we only did it for four years, and I never would have dreamed of being on television. This season in my life was a great joy for me and my times of preparation for the show were special times with the Lord. Just during our time at home in Muskegon for the holidays, one lady who had always been touched by “Rhonda from the Heart,” told me how much it meant to her and how much she missed it−what a precious reunion that was! From this beginning, I was encouraged by several friends to go on the “Ask the Pastor” show on TCT for almost twenty years. Thank-you, Sheryl Ann!
Richard and I learned hands-on, spirit-led prayer at Shiloh Tabernacle. One of Pastor Verne’s greatest skills is moving people beyond being spectators or beyond being prayed for, to praying for people and moving in the gifts of the Spirit themselves. The Spirit of God moved so heavily, we would be ministering to people up to an hour or more after the morning service. Our girls learned to bring books to read because they might be in church for a long time. But during this time, we received impartation and invaluable training in the use of the gifts of the Spirit.
The time came when Richard and I felt led to begin a church in nearby Holton, Michigan and Pastor Verne blessed us, and prayed over us as he sent us out. That was almost twenty years ago now, but Pastor Verne and Sheryl Ann have remained faithful friends. Since we have been ministering in Mexico, they have supported us in prayer and financially, as well as being eager to hear what is new in Cabo when we are in town.
This is really just the highlights of the faithful, fruitful ministry of Pastor Verne and Sheryl Ann Wright in our lives. We thank God for them, ask His blessing upon them, and pray that this year Shiloh will have a visitation of the Spirit greater than at any other time.