Rodney and Ellen Riggs 1975 to 2015 and counting!

The months of hospitalization, the confusion that strokes bring, the unbelievable stress that comes from having your life completely pulled out from under you began to take their toll on both Rod and Elly

IMG_3868It began without warning. Chest and abdominal pain – a trip to a local hospital and a transfer to a regional one. The doctor said, “I don’t think you’ll make it through the night.” Rodney Riggs, sixty-eight years old, was told he had necrotizing pancreatitis. His pancreas was eating away at itself. The hospital doctors decided to transfer Rod to the Cleveland Clinic Surgical Intensive Care Unit to have emergency surgery to forestall the destruction of his pancreas. The doctors told him he had a 9 in 10 chance of not making it through the surgery. That was about March 2, 2015. Rod never had to have the surgery. Most believe that it was the prayers of so many that stopped the pancreas with about 30 percent still functional, just enough to live on. While he battled the pancreatitis, infections and fevers haunted him. Then again, without warning, Rod suffered a debilitating stroke which made his entire left side non-functional. Weeks would drag into months as the roller-coaster ride of infections and fevers would drive Rod deeper into trouble. Eventually, he was transferred to a specialty hospital on the sixth floor of the Mercy Medical Center in Canton. It is now spring time. Rod’s wife Ellen, Elly, had been working, trying to get to the hospital as often as she could while struggling with her diabetes and high blood pressure, remnants of a mild stroke she had suffered years ago when she had a non-malignant tumor removed from her brain which also left her deaf in one ear. Then it came. The phone call that Elly had collapsed at work. She was taken to a special unit of the Akron General Hospital where it was learned that she had suffered a shower of strokes and was severely incapacitated. Eventually, Rod and Elly would be both in the specialty hospital at Mercy in Canton and from there they were transferred together to the Bethany Nursing Home, also in Canton for more focused physical therapy.
The months of hospitalization, the confusion that strokes bring, the unbelievable stress that comes from having your life completely pulled out from under you began to take their toll on both Rod and Elly. Depression and anger, both natural parts of the grief that comes in dealing with such a loss; was worsening. This was an incredible double loss. Neither of them could count on the other to help them because each was helpless on their own. Rod celebrated his 69th birthday at Bethany. Elly had turned 69 in April while Rod was hospitalized in Cleveland. There was hope and a desire that when Rod and Elly would celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary on August 26, 2015 that they would enjoy it in their own home. God is the only one that can foresee that timing. But on July 15, 2015 Rodney called his brother Ross, an ordained minister, and asked him if he would be willing to come to Bethany and officiate as Rodney and Ellen renewed their wedding vows. And that is just what they did. IMG_3866
Many times, young people speak their wedding vows and the words, “for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health” just roll off their tongue without much more than a passing thought. When Rod and Elly spoke those words this time, it meant a great deal more. We celebrate with them and thank God for their love and their desire to go through whatever lies ahead, together.

What Do I Do Now?

When pressed to choose, I will obey God rather than man. The outcomes are always and already in God’s hands.

With the U.S. Supreme Court decision this week (June 2015) that legalizes gay marriages nation-wide, I was asked by a godly friend of mine, “What do you intend to do now?” As I thought that through the first reflection that I had was that America has, as a government, stopped following the Judeo-Christian God years ago that the nation was founded upon. This is just another log on the fire of what I believe will be the eventual lessening of the U.S. in world affairs. Recently I heard a self-proclaimed expert on Bible prophecy explain that the reason the U.S. is not mentioned in biblical prophecy of the end-times is because it  is under the hidden name of Babylon. I did not listen very long. There is no way with a literal-biblical hermeneutic that anyone can make the argument that the U.S. is Babylon of Revelation. Most have said for years that Babylon in Revelation is Rome because of the papacy; but, I believe that Babylon is Babylon – just ask ISIS. America is not mentioned, thus we are not important in the last days because we, like the rest of the world turned our back on Israel and on God.  What do I do now?

I am going to follow the admonitions of Christ. His commandments were: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might. Love your neighbor as yourself. Go into all the world and make disciples, first in Jerusalem, then Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth. In Micah 6:8 we read: “What does the Lord require of you? But to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” I will preach only God’s truth. The Bible tells us, “Your Word is Truth”

When it comes to me as a pastor and performing wedding ceremonies. I already will only marry those I believe to be born-again believers in Christ. We go through that in premarriage counseling and get the issue settled. Will I marry a gay couple? Peter said it best before the Sanhedrin when they were told to stop preaching Christ crucified and resurrected. In Acts 5:29 we read: “But Peter and the apostles answered and said, “We must obey God rather than man.”

I determined a long time ago that I am willing to go to jail for my faith and my family. Someday it may come to that.

Until then, we are admonished to obey those placed in positions of authority over us and to pray for them. I will do that.

What do I do now? The same things I have tried to do already – through the faith of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, I will love God with all that I am; love and care for others, share Christ whenever and wherever the Holy Spirit opens the door staying true to the TRUTH of God’s Word. I will do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God. I will pray for our nation and its leaders. When pressed to choose, I will obey God rather than man. The outcomes are always and already in God’s hands.

A Response from the President
A Response from the President