Pastor’s widow encourages Florida Baptists to focus on family
Nov 21, 2012
By MARGARET DEMPSEY-COLSON
Florida Baptist Convention

ORLANDO (FBC)—Although God could have stopped a gunman from killing her pastor-husband three and a half years ago, his widow Cindy Winters believes God has been able to use the tragedy for His good.

Since the tragedy, “A lot of people have come to know the Lord and been called to the ministry,” she said.

Speaking at the Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting Nov. 12, Winters recalled the “waves and waves of fear and sorrow, the awful nightmare” of March, 2009. 

As she and one of her daughters approached their home church in Maryville, Ill. that Sunday morning in the car, they saw several emergency vehicles and assumed a traffic accident had occurred nearby. 

While walking from the parking lot toward the church Winters soon learned that a gunman had entered the church and directly opened fire on her husband of 22 years, Fred Winters, ultimately killing him with a gunshot to the heart.   

Winters’ testimony reflected on the 2012 annual meeting theme, “What Really Matters,” with her emphasis on the importance of family.

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FBC photo
With FBSC President David Uth, pastor of Orlando’s First Baptist Church, leading her in a dialogue following a brief videotape introduction to the tragedy, Winters encouraged attendees to “never miss an opportunity” to say or do encouraging words or actions.

“Life is short. We are not guaranteed tomorrow,” she said, adding that her husband had said some “beautiful and sweet things” to her the night prior to his death.

So often, she said, individuals tend to put time and importance on insignificant things.

Although she has had “a lot of dark days, God is a Redeemer, a Restorer. He’s a sweet God,” Winters said.

“God takes things that don’t make sense and weaves through them,” Winters continued. “He gives us what we need to hang in there when nothing makes sense.”

She said that her relationship with Jesus is “one thing that made sense when nothing else made sense.

“I’m so thankful I have Him,” Winters surmised.

Determined that she would not just “survive this thing” but instead “be better because of it,” Winters founded Grace and Hope Ministries in July 2009, following her husband’s murder in March. 

The purpose of the ministry is to help people find lasting hope regardless of whatever tragedy or circumstance is experienced in life.

Winters also spoke at the Nov. 13 Florida Baptist Ministers’ Wives luncheon. 

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