Northside Church of Christ in Tucson, AZ

He was angry. In fact, he was angry enough to look for a fight that night when he and his beautiful, young wife left their apartment to take a walk. As they departed their little dwelling, He thought about going left, but hesitated a bit, and took instead a right, went just a little further and noticed there was a light on in that familiar building next to their apartments — the one with the “Beaverton Church of Christ” sign out front.  

The angry man had been looking for the truth but was informed enough by the culture to know that Christianity was certainly outdated, and thus absolutely not true. To officially cross Christianity off his possibilities of worldviews, he decided to go into that building, find some of those duped Christians, challenge the inconsistencies of their logic, and point out the erroneous nature of their beliefs. 

As he entered the building he saw a man of remarkable stature. Undaunted, he introduced himself and demanded the man’s name and upon the “giant’s” gentle reply, asked forcefully, “So what do you do here?” With kind eyes, the giant replied, “Let me introduce you to our evangelist”, and returned with the friendly, young preacher. After warm handshakes and introductions, the angry man and his dear wife were invited into the office. As they settled in, he asked, “So you have some questions?”  “Yes”, the angry man replied adamantly and proceeded to hammer the young evangelist with harder and harder questions from every direction (including left field). Much to the angry man’s surprise, after each and every question, the unruffled preacher, rather than offering his personal opinions, kindly proceeded to immediately find exactly what the scriptures said on each and every one of the angry man’s questions. The preacher’s confidence seemed rooted, not in himself, but in the written word, allowing the angry man to, in essence, have a conversation not with the preacher, but with the Creator Himself. The logic of the answers within the divine writings began to slowly abate the man’s anger and move him instead toward genuine wonder, for although the man had come in angry, the man had a quality within himself that had much deeper roots within his heart than that of anger. It was a quality he shared with his beautiful wife, and that quality was honesty and humility.  At the end of the evening, the evangelist asked, “Would you like to have a Bible study?”  “Yes, please”, the humble, honest man and his beautiful wife answered.  

Twenty-six years after this Bible study, Mark and I were invited over for dinner to the happy home of a young Christian family, James and Tristin Wright, who had also spent a year or so living nomadically. We happened to visit their congregation in Brandon, Florida when they were out of town, but when their preacher, John Guzzetta, told them about us, and how much he thought we’d have in common with the young couple, they invited us to dinner and a delightful evening of comparing notes. We learned a lot from these kindred spirits that night as we exchanged stories of what we’d found most challenging about living nomadically, what had been most fulfilling, and what we’d learned along the way visiting churches of Christ all over the country. One thing that impressed our host the most while visiting these congregations during his year on the road, happened when he walked into a congregation in Tucson, Arizona. He was greeted at the door by a man with a smile and a warm handshake who showed genuine interest in his story and then handed him a contact card, saying “I’m Shannon, and I’m one of the shepherds here. If you need anything while you are in the area, don’t hesitate to call.”  When Mark and I heard this story from this new friend, we felt a deep satisfaction and quiet joy, as we always have over the years whenever the encouraging news of the progress of our children in the Lord, Shannon and Teresa Pfleiderer has come our way — that same couple whom Mark had met with in his office some twenty-six years previously to get their questions answered. 

We’ve kept in touch with the Pfleiderers over those many years, and recently Teresa invited me to join some of the sisters-in-Christ from the Northside congregation for a women's retreat. We arranged our travel plans to accommodate that weekend to meet some new friends and enjoy the cooler, wooded mountains of Arizona at Tonto Rim. There I and fifteen other sisters in Christ shared deep conversations around what God says about contentment, strength, trust, and beauty. Between our devotions, we hiked to Slide Rock, told stories, played games, laughed, cried, and decorated gratitude jars. Toward the end of the retreat after one of the Bible classes, I asked these encouraging sisters to write down what they felt they were able to do because of their confidence in God and to place their answers into my gratitude jar. When I read them, I was inspired by their answers and was reminded once again that each of us really can do absolutely all things through Christ who strengthens us. These lovely Christian women of God want my readers to know that whatever challenges you are facing, your heart can rest with confidence in our God who supplies all our needs as you wait for brighter days to come. To encourage you, some of the sisters from the Northside congregation and other surrounding congregations who attended this retreat share this… 

“Because my confidence was in God, I was able to…

…lead my husband to the Lord.

…stand strong with family that has fallen.

…stay faithful to the Lord after my husband died from ALS.

…fight cancer that had moved into my lymph nodes when I was 26 years old and pregnant with my first child.

…stay with my husband after he had an affair and work on rebuilding our marriage.

…take two nieces ages 8 and 11 home with me after the funeral of their mother and raise them as our own children.

…recover from an eating disorder.

…stay faithful through a devastating divorce with three small children.

…survive and thrive after the sudden death of my husband.

…move without a job to be closer to family — God provided!

… maintain my faith after my children’s dad committed suicide.

…support my husband in a major career change.

…travel to a foreign country to live for two years to help in growing the kingdom.

…put my career on hold to start a family, knowing that He would take care of us financially.

…parent a teenager who was going to marry at the age of 15 to get away from a bad home situation. She’s now faithful and amazing at 30 years old!

…give Him all my concerns and no longer be anxious. He has overcome the world. Of course, He can help me overcome my struggles! In Him all things are possible.

The day after I returned from this retreat, we had the delight of worshiping with the Northside church of Christ in Tucson, Arizona. Antoine Holloway’s class on the topic of what the Jewish people had endured during the Intertestamental Era (the 400 years of silence between the Old and New Testaments) was exceptionally deep, thorough, and engaging. During Mark’s sermon that followed, we also appreciated something we’d not yet seen anywhere else in the country —  the congregation softly vocalizing their positive responses throughout Mark's sermon. It was done so softly and intermittently, that it was not in the least bit distracting, but was rather quite unifying, almost as if the whole congregation was preaching the sermon together to the souls around them. 

So many people engaged us in lengthy, meaningful conversations afterward. One sister shared with me several things she most appreciated about her church family at Northside including the ethnic diversity and I was quite taken aback as she went on and on listing the various races within the congregation, all happily worshiping together as one. Another was how active they are in their outreach with the Good News. It’s part of their culture at Northside. In fact, along with the attendance numbers, in order to indicate to one another that they are all working on spreading the Word, they individually report throughout the year to a deacon the number of “invitations” they have given out in terms of Bible studies offered, cards handed out, or invitations to come to worship. That deacon tracks and posts that collective number of invitations on the board as he receives them. During our visit, 405 invitations had been handed out so far during that year, and in 2020 the number of invitations was 1,208! 

After worship, we lunched with the Pfleiderers and Holloways, laughing and learning from one another and were blessed to hear the encouraging love story of the Holloways. I was struck by, as the old Peter Cetera song says, “What one good woman can do” in the life of a man, and as I reflected back on the retreat, I also thought about what one good woman can do in the warmth and vibrancy of her congregation. As in our own individual families, the positivity of grateful Christian women really does so often set the tone of a congregation, such as the positive, emotionally supportive tone at Northside. And while I’ve witnessed for myself single people who, like the Apostle Paul, have been exceptionally fruitful in their spiritual labors, I thought both about how far I’ve come as a result of a husband who has nourished and cherished me, as well as how much better men seem to do when they opt into the stabilizing element that a good Christian woman brings into the marriage covenant. 

As I was preparing to write this entry, I asked both Shannon and Antoine to briefly share with me the positive difference their helpmeets have made in their lives. Shannon, who for over ten years took on the work of Director of the local FC camp,  answered, “Her email signature includes, ‘Forever His,’ meaning that she is God’s first; He is her priority - this is an example that upholds a spiritual standard in our relationship. Her dedication to Him has given her insight and the energy to commit to our marriage and parenting; she has an amazing, positive perspective and endurance in her Godly submission. She produces the Fruit of the Spirit through action and accountability; for example, she established a women’s retreat that has made a constructive difference in the relationships of the women in the congregation for about two decades so far, she was a driving force for over ten years supporting the success of the Florida College Summer Camps enlightening the perspectives of our youth to realize that being a Christian in this world is possible and can be a meaningful and joyful experience, and she is a respected and loved teacher impacting the lives of children at her school.”

Antoine replied, “Angela's faithfulness to God in her service to me as my wife, and to her daughters as an example and mother has allowed me to do the work of an evangelist with joy. Her trust in me has been the motivation I have needed to help me understand that I am more than what I have become. Angela's love for people and souls serves as a constant reminder that my passion for evangelism and edification is not and has never been a fruitless work.”

Truly, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22). 

Northside Church of Christ
1513 W. Roller Coaster Road
Tucson, AZ 85704
(520) 395-2961