Five years ago in a season of despair, Pastor Gwen Pew of Grand Avenue UMC could not have imagined the way God was going to take the mess of her life and create a message. On March 8, 2022, Gwen had the opportunity to speak at the Voices of Women Summit. While this summit is not a Christian event, Pastor Gwen was able to share a testimony of what God has done in her life titled, “Refined, Renewed, and Restored,” as she was interviewed for 25 minutes.
Years ago the invitation to speak and lead a women’s Bible study led to resistance. Pastor Gwen remembered, “At the time I said, ‘I’m just the secretary!” It was 1995 and she was serving as a church secretary for her home church, First United Methodist Church in New Castle, IN. In the midst of her 11 year tenure, she began to feel the Holy Spirit nudging her towards ministry.
Pastor Gwen gave in and found that she loved it, especially the camaraderie as women built one another up in their faith. It grew from 15 to 25 women. First UMC in New Castle supported her through her classes and ministry training. She received her first appointment in 2006.
In 2017, Pastor Gwen found herself living alone for the first time in 33 years. Recalling this time she said, “I hadn’t opened the blinds in a year. This was a season of God refining me, finding me in the difficult times.”
She likens this journey to a mountain. In the valley of pain, God refines us. Then God leads us up the mountain to renew us, giving us a new vision of hope and the future ahead. “When we hit the mountain top, we are able to look back and see how God has brought us there. We can laugh again, enjoy life again, and be open to whatever God has in store for us. For me, this was a five year journey. The Lord gives us these restoring times where we can see what God is doing in our life,” said Pastor Gwen.
In her own journey of being refined, renewed, and restored by God, Pastor Gwen felt a fresh call to public ministry, specifically speaking to women. In January 2022, she spoke at the virtual women’s summit “The Best You 2022,” which is what led to her being invited to speak at the Voices of You summit. This one day summit in honor of International Women’s Day brought together over 200 speakers to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
In the past six months, she has started a podcast and a weekly devotional and prayer time on Facebook in an effort to connect and minister to women. She is also working on a book about her spiritual journey of being refined, renewed, and restored.
She said, “When we go through hard times and God brings us through it, we aren’t supposed to keep it to myself. I have a deeper relationship with God now because of this journey. I want to be open to wherever God wants me to love people and share the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
Pastor Gwen reflected on her spiritual journey and her message to other women saying, “Our lives are a journey with the Lord. It will get hard and difficult at times. God is with us in the valleys, up the mountain, and on the mountain top. God is still with us going down the mountain. Rejoice in the Lord even in the dark times. In those times we find God the closest.”