What has it done to my soul, spirit, and faith to see two people I deeply admire and revere daily live what they preach and teach? This short piece contains a few of my observations, most of which surpass adequate words. Yet I know the things my eyes have seen remain forever imprinted in my spirit. They are sacred ruminations I draw strength from in times of weariness, courage from in times of uncertainty.
In lighter moments of humor, I’ve chuckled to myself with thoughts like, “My pastor is so gangsta,” or “My pastor done caught a case.” In ways it helps me stomach the reality of what has happened since March 2020 and throughout the oppressive pandemic chronicles. Yet in heavy currents of meditation, as I consider yet another court battle approaching Monday, June 7, my soul screams for the burden Pastor Tony Spell and Sis. Shaye Spell willingly carried, and still carry, for this glorious Gospel. I weep that two people could be so immovably anchored to the Gospel they preach. They LIVE it! I can only call this ache I feel “glory!” Glory is an intimate meeting of heaven and earth, and I sense in small parts what it truly means to suffer, to endure, and to stand fast in ways the elders and mothers of old believed.
When the buses at my church rolled through the streets of Baton Rouge the Sunday after the governor of Louisiana ordered churches to close, I stood in awe. I’ll never forget both the adrenaline pumping and the Holy Ghost power I felt watching those yellow soldiers boldly drive off the parking lot into the streets to bring people to church. To compel them to come! It served as a rally cry and a stance against the gates of hell that dare attempt to breach the doors God’s Church!
Those who know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel understand these patriarchs of the Faith were emblazoned with an uncanny courage because they KNEW their God. In fact, how much do we ourselves even know God if we have not felt the pressure of scandalous criticism or the long nights of persecution?
To observe the Faith of these two remarkable people, who are so ordinary in some ways—they eat, they work, crack jokes, raise children—yet so supernatural in other ways is an honor. It has helped to heal my faith in places where great trials created cynicism; it has increased my faith into another dimension of commitment and revelation. The dynamic of their personalities made the Gospel more human to me. More attainable. Their transparency makes me feel like I’m not crazy for some of the emotions I have at times. They made it okay to be tired, yet still fighting. To be frustrated, yet still teaching a Bible study. To be overwhelmed, yet still giving more. There is a beautiful balance to the grace that is Sis. Spell and the fire that is Pastor Spell.
I am reminded in Scripture that Elijah is described as a man “subject to like passions as we are” (James 5:17). He operated in great faith, calling fire from heaven, but he was also human. He felt like we do. Struggled with different insecurities and demands. Yet he trusted God wholeheartedly.
That’s what I consider when I think of the example that is Pastor and Sis. Spell. They feel supernatural in moments because they do not fold when faced with opposition or hard obstacles. They don’t change convictions based on the culture, the season, people’s opinions, or potential prison time. They don’t quit. On God. Or people. Or themselves. They remain kind, compassionate, and consistent despite the plethora of trials and the arsenal of fiery darts the devil has shot their way.
I’ve always wanted to be in company with some crazy radical people who just BELIEVE God no matter what. That’s what I see in my pastor and his wife. I’ll never forget asking Pastor Spell a simple question about understanding the voice of God. I asked, what if I am wrong about what God is telling me to do at times. He responded, “What do you think this is? The Holy Ghost doesn’t get things wrong!”
The tenacity and conviction in how he said it reached so deeply into my spirit that I had to repent for even thinking anything less of the Holy Ghost. He does not get it wrong. God leads His people with certainty! That statement also helped me understand in part what underscores the daily Faith of this man and woman of God. They truly believe what they read in the Word of Almighty God! Honestly, it’s really that simple. They’re full of the Holy Ghost, and they trust God. They continue in their spiritual disciplines and trust God. They’ve committed themselves to this Gospel and to reaching souls because they trust God.
Every decision they make is the effect of trusting God. It is not mysterious. It is discipline driven by love for God and doing His will. I am simply grateful for such great examples, and I’m grateful to be part of a beautiful and diverse church family guided by such excellence in leadership. We are blessed to observe and witness the Faith of this man of woman of God.
Tomorrow’s court session is another big moment among moments to observe their Faith. They’re building a legacy of Faith for present and future generations. While it has been an extraordinary year of stress for Pastor and Sis. Shaye Spell, I pray they always know it has elevated my faith, and that of countless others, to new levels in Jesus Christ. For that, and so much more, I will be forever grateful for their devotion to the cause of Christ and this rich Apostolic legacy.