Ministry launched to restore 'broken' believers
RED BAY, Ala. (BP) -- It was a friendship that started with pure intentions. But Shea Lowery learned quickly how confiding in someone of the opposite sex while not heeding God's Word can change things forever.
It all started with emails and texts.
"I walked right up to the line and told God with all confidence, 'I've got this.' And then I stepped over the line," she said.
Lowery, a longtime ministry leader and Christian speaker based out of Red Bay, didn't mean to be arrogant in her spiritual walk. In fact this was not the first time she had found herself in an inappropriate relationship. But she truly thought she had been delivered from the sin.
Then it happened again. And this time she couldn't see a way back. She truly didn't think God would forgive her.
But forgiving her was just the beginning. God restored her and set a platform before her that has her sharing her story on the radio, at women's conferences, to groups of homeless women and in a soon-to-be-released book, "Redeemed, Rescued, Restored."
"I hurt a lot of people and disappointed a lot of people, but God took it and is using it for His glory," Lowery said.
And it all happened because a group of believers -- the board of directors of her ministry at the time -- chose to walk with her rather than distance themselves from her.
"I was leading a new ministry that was making a difference in the lives of women and children. I had put everything I had into that," she said, noting she finally felt settled in her walk with the Lord after years of ups and downs.
"I accepted Christ in my young 20s after my husband was killed. He was electrocuted on his job site," Lowery said. "I had two small children at the time and tried to stay on track, but I was back and forth in my walk with God."
She became a member of First Baptist Church, Red Bay, and was there for several years before joining Golden Central Baptist Church, Golden, Miss., where her daughter, Mandy, remains a member. Lowery now is a member of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, while she works on a master's in biblical counseling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
The years between Lowery becoming a Christian in the early 1990s and 2010 were tumultuous until "I got to the end of my rope," she said. "God flipped on His light switch and showed me the true condition of my heart. He began to change me."
Bethany Hope Center ministry resulted and life was good. Lowery was doing better than she ever had, promoting the ministry across the state and enjoying being an independent ministry leader and grandmother. But she didn't listen to God's warnings about where that new friendship was headed.
"God had delivered me from such a past but I said, 'Lord, You won't forgive me this time,'" Lowery said. "I couldn't go to church. I was afraid of what people might think. I was repentant, but the weight of the sin was more than I thought I could bear."
She eventually confessed her actions to her ministry's board and wanted to quit the ministry. She knew she needed to be fired, but they wouldn't let her quit. After a time of prayer they said to her, "Your life has value. Your life has meaning. Your life is more important than this ministry."
"I was broken beyond what I had ever been in my life, but they decided to do life with me," Lowery said. "Discipline came and it needed to. I had to step down from leading the ministry. The women on the board called me every week and asked me questions," she said. "The questions were for my growth in Christ and to hold me under high accountability. The men on the board would pray.
"They said they were supposed to help the person who had fallen, to help pick them up," she said, noting how their love for, support of and faith in her is what gave her the strength to move forward.
Lowery spent more than a year in counseling with a variety of individuals and also confessed her actions to her family and the donors of the ministry.
"Everybody was showing love," she said. "And all but one donor stayed with me. They said they appreciated me being honest.
"The board stood by me but never stood by what I did," she added. "I was not heeding the Lord's voice. We can read the Bible all day long, but if we are not doing what it says, then we are not letting it work in us."
And now on the other side of the discipline and restoration, Lowery said the experience has been life-changing.
"I never knew God could do in a life what He did in mine. I never really knew how much He loves me," she said. "It was through discipline. I got taken to the woodshed and was there a very long time ... but God has now released me to share my story.
"If we all would just take off our masks and be open and honest with people, God could take and use your testimony in a way you would never believe."
And for all the ministers, Sunday School teachers and other church leaders who are hurting because they have "messed up in a big way," Lowery wants to assure them that God can still use them.
"My testimony is a very difficult testimony to share, but I am seeing God work in amazing ways through it," she said.
Her new ministry Lives Being Restored "was birthed from a life that was restored from a time of great brokenness."
No one is beyond reach
The mission of Lives Being Restored is to share with all age groups the love of Jesus Christ, His Gospel message and His desire to restore wounded and broken lives.
"No matter where you are or how far you have gone, God loves you and will restore your life in the most amazing way," Lowery, now the executive director of Lives Being Restored, said. "There is no one person or situation beyond the reach of God."
Lowery is available to speak on a variety of topics including her testimony. For more information, visit www.livesbeingrestored.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 256-460-8506.
Jennifer Davis Rash is executive editor of The Alabama Baptist newspaper. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).