Scott E. Wendal is Senior Pastor of Valley Forge Baptist Temple located in Collegeville, Pennsylvania.  Pastor Wendal attained his Bachelor of Arts degree at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri with continuing education at both Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary and Trinity Theological Seminary.  He then came to Valley Forge area in July of 1984 to begin the Valley Forge Baptist Temple.  He is married to Jodie, and they have five children– Matthew, Jeremy, Megan, Scotty Jr. and Amber.

Ministering in the Midst of Trials




Scott Wendal




Valley Forge Baptist Temple


The message I would like to share is a testimony of God’s love and grace. I am not an expert on ministering in the midst of trials, but God did allow our family to be in that place of ministry when we needed the ministering most of all.

Though this one great trial is over – I can look back and see God’s goodness to me. When I lost my wife to heaven in 1993, I began a whole new series of trials: mourning, feeling of loss, loneliness, a single pastor, and the not so simple things of caring for two little boys (and cooking).

In July of 1992 an oral surgeon called me while on vacation and he said, “I don’t like to give this kind of information over the phone, but your wife has cancer and you need to come home as soon as possible.” My wife, Carole, had a malignant cancerous tumor on the back of her tongue. Carole was 16 weeks pregnant at the time with our third child and that complicated her treatment. He asked us if we wanted to keep the baby or not…. “Absolutely” was our answer.

It is true that a very low percentage of abortions are to save the life of the mother.  But, now I could be facing that possibility- losing my wife or my baby, or worse, both. We already had two boys and were so hoping to have a baby girl. After hearing six days of bad news, it got worse on the 7th day. A previously scheduled ultrasound showed there was no baby. The placenta was there, but no baby. The medical term was a “missed abortion.” We know that God was gracious in taking the child so that he or she would not have to be exposed to the upcoming cancer treatments of surgery and radiation.

I can’t tell you how I felt that Monday. I comforted Carole when we received the news at the doctor’s office, but when we got home, I could barely talk. I was numb. God gave Carole great strength and peace that afternoon. She called family and friends to tell them the news. That afternoon was the lowest point in my life. We had lost our baby, and now I might lose my wife.

Next came surgery! After a six hour surgery, the surgeon came out and said “I think I got it all, but I had to take one third of her tongue.” Unbelievably, two hours after surgery I was by my wife’s side in intensive care and she was talking and had a sense of humor. By a miracle of God her tongue did not hurt. In the weeks and months to follow her tongue never pained her. She had great pain from the neck surgery and later from the radiation, but her tongue did not hurt. Following the surgery Carole went through six and a half weeks of difficult radiation treatments on her mouth and neck with a godly attitude. She faced great pain with a wonderful attitude.

Ministering To Others


One of the expectant mothers in our church was told that her baby had Down Syndrome. Then doctors said the baby would not survive. They said she would miscarry in the next few weeks. As I sat with her one day she found strength because of what Carole and I were facing. She wanted to know how I could keep preaching in the midst of the trial. I said, “It’s all God’s grace. God and God alone.” Within a week she did miscarry and I preached the memorial service for the family. I can look back and see another reason why God allowed Carole to be pregnant and lose the baby- for us to help Virginia Krieble.

God gave us a wonderful year together in 1993. We served the Lord with gladness. We stayed busy in God’s work, we even took a mission trip to Ireland in the summer. On October 1, 1993 doctors confirmed that Carole’s cancer had spread to her ribs, lungs and liver. Medically, there was no hope. After consulting with four different oncologists we were told that chemotherapy had never cured anyone with Stage 4 head and neck cancer. We chose not to use the chemo.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving I preached in the morning, and like Ezekiel, “in the evening my wife died.” Ezekiel 24:18 As she took her last breath, I was holding her hand telling her that I loved her. Earlier that day her only words were, “I love you.” My heart raced as I knew that she was now being ushered by angels into the presence of God. This great trial was over, but smaller new ones were just beginning.

We all face trials, some bigger than others. The Lord wants us to minister to others in the midst of our trials. But I will tell you plain and simple, our flesh does not want to do this. We begin to think, “Why should I help you struggle with your problems, when my problems are so big?” But God has a purpose and He doesn’t tell us what He is doing all the time.

What’s the Formula for Ministering During Trials?


I don’t have a formula that will work for every trial. I don’t even have a formula that will work for my trial. It has been hard. Some people say, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” I believe that’s true – you can’t imagine the trial of losing your mate, but there’s something else that you can’t imagine and that is God’s grace. As Carole and I talked of her homegoing we both experienced a peace that God gave to us at the very end. But it didn’t fully come till the last week.

I knew that thousands of people were praying for us. Many had prayed for healing. But late that night, actually the next morning at 3:15 am, God took away all the pain! He answered our prayers His way. He took away her pain, but not mine. I’ll not lie to you and I don’t lie to our church – it hurts.

How do you minister in the midst of trials?


By the grace of God!

James 4:6 says, “But He giveth more grace.” By God’s grace, I preached the Sunday morning before her homegoing and the Sunday night after she died. I had a whole congregation of people that were really hurting. My place was to minister to them. When they could see that I was OK, I went away for 2 weeks – taking my boys with me for a week. Here’s what I hold on to:

1. My Faith – It takes an Act of Faith, Hebrews 11:6

I believe in God, v. 6a

I’ve never seen God, but I know He is. I’ve never seen the wind – but I’ve heard the wind blow soft and hard; I’ve felt the wind on my face and arms; and I’ve seen what the wind can do – rustle the leaves and knock down trees. In the midst of a trial you must believe that God is. Not only that He is, but that He is in control. Daniel said to Nebuchaddnezzar, “the Most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men.” (Daniel 4:25)

I believe God.

I believe what God says. I believe what God says about Himself and I believe what God says about you and me.

It takes an act of faith. Everyone has faith in something or someone.

What do I believe about God?

I believe God…:

    – Is perfect.

    – makes no mistakes.

    – Has a Perfect Plan for my life.

    – God’s ways are higher than my ways.

2. The Fact – We must Acknowledge the Fact, Romans 8:28 is true.

I believe God has never made a mistake!

Without God this is impossible. But with God life can make sense when it doesn’t seem to make sense. How? Because of God! (Genesis 18:25)

I believe in the sovereignty of God.

When I asked the oral surgeon, “How could Carole get cancer?” He said, “I have searched my soul and there’s not an earthly reason for your wife to have cancer.” There must be a heavenly reason I thought. One of those reasons just became apparent during a snow storm last winter.

“Are you afraid to die?”

A neighbor of mine, Jack Shiner, was clearing his driveway with his tractor. When he pulled into the street to turn around, he was hit by a 4-wheel-drive Jeep. I had witnessed to Jack for over a year and invited him to church. We had talked several times and one day he asked me, “Are you afraid to die?”  Here was a perfect opportunity to present the gospel. You see Jack almost died 3 years ago, but bypass surgery bought him some more time. Carole’s last service at VFBT was Oct 17, 1993 (just 5 weeks from glory). I invited Jack and Jackie Shiner for Friend’s Day. He came because of Carole. I told him it might be one of Carole’s last services. On Oct. 17, Jack Shiner listened as intently to my preaching as anyone ever had. When the invitation came and I asked who would like to receive Christ as their Savior, his hand went up. I led him through the salvation prayer.

Four months later, on Feb. 11th, exactly 3 years from the date of his by-pass surgery, Jack Shiner, who expected to die from a heart attack was hit by a speeder. The doctors came and told Jackie that Jack was “brain dead.” Jackie asked me, “What does the Bible say?” I explained salvation and a Christian’s entrance into Heaven. I told Jackie how my Carole could be welcoming Jack in his new heavenly home right then.

I can see Carole telling Jack Shiner that his wife and boys will make it with God’s help. I told her I can see Jack taking Carole’s hand and telling her, “I saw your husband last week and he really misses you, but he is going to make it. Your boys are doing wonderful.”

I preached his funeral a few days later at the Episcopal church they were married in. Before the service started I was in the auditorium with my Bible open, and the church sexton walked up to me and he said, “There’s a rare sight, someone reading a Bible in an Episcopalian church.” He said he was saved but not a member there, and added, “Preach the Word.” I said, “I plan to.” I did! God blessed and over twenty people raised their hands to pray the salvation prayer, including Jack Shiner’s brother Jim. It was my first funeral since Carole’s service. It was hard for me. Once again God gave the needed grace.

3. The Fire – Accept the Fire

On Nov. 28, 1993, I did not know that Carole was just hours from heaven, but I did know that more than a few in our congregation were quietly struggling with why didn’t God heal Carole. She was surrendered to God’s will, she was serving, she was a godly example, and she was faithful in spite of incredible pain due to cancer in her rib cage.

Obviously we both wanted her to live, but we both wanted the will of God more than life itself. She would say to me, “We’re not angry at God, I don’t want anyone else to be angry at God because of me, I want them to get closer to God.”


That Sunday I preached a message titled, “The Figure in the Fire.” The three Hebrews faced King Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath for refusing to bow to his idol. He gave them a second chance to bow down. They said, “Our God whom we serve shall deliver us, BUT IF NOT… we’re still going to love and serve Him.  Job said, “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15.) God does not always give us what we want, but He always gives us what is best.

I finished the message this way. God delivered the three men from the fiery furnace. HOW? The figure in the fire. The fourth figure was like unto the Son of God. The fourth figure was the Son of God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego walked right out of that fire, but Jesus Christ stayed in the fire. He’s still there. He’s there for you and me.

Can I minister in the midst of trials?

You can minister in the midst of trials- big or small, with God’s grace. I don’t deserve any praise, and will not accept it. I don’t have the time to tell you how miserably I have failed. BUT, there is a group of people who God is using in a mighty way – God’s people at Valley Forge Baptist Temple. They continue to demonstrate God’s love to me and the boys. They are absolutely wonderful. Our church gave me a fancy home-made coupon book full of coupons for everything from cooking and cleaning to yard work, car washes, restaurant certificates, cooking lessons, and babysitting – just about everything!

In 1996 God gave me a wonderful wife, Jodie Friesen. Believe it or not, my wife and I have never had one fight. We realize that life is too precious and time too short to spend it fighting. These last five years have been golden years in my life. God has graciously given us three more children, filling our quiver. I attempt to squeeze the life out of everyday God gives me. I teach others: This day is a gift of God. I didn’t earn, and I don’t deserve it. “This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)


“…For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14)


“Remember how short my time is.” (Psalm 89:47)


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