Cindy Winters’ book reflects on God’s goodness in grief

Meredith Flynn —  April 9, 2013

Tuesday_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Cindy Winters didn’t set out to write a book. But as she journaled about her grief and pain after her husband’s death four years ago, she realized how healing the writing process could be. And she wanted to share that with others on a similar journey.

Pastor Fred Winters was killed at First Baptist Church, Maryville, Ill., on March 8, 2009, when a gunman entered the Sunday morning worship service and shot him where he stood in the pulpit. Media outlets immediately descended on Maryville, and the story made national headlines. Just days afterward, Cindy Winters extended forgiveness to the shooter on CBS’ Early Show.

“We have been praying for him,” she said. “…We really firmly believe that he can find hope and forgiveness and peace through this, by coming to know Jesus.”

Hope, forgiveness and peace are some of the themes running through Winters’ new book “Reflections from the Pit,” available now on Her writing process started simply, when she sat down with pen and paper to express some of the emotions that were overwhelming her.

“I would leave that writing experience with a sense of renewed strength,” Winters said. “Oftentimes, peace would sweep in over me, and then hope. And just a sense of, ‘Ok, you know what, I’m going to be able to make it through the rest of the day.’” Read more at

Other news:

Rick and Kay Warren grieve son’s suicide
(From Baptist Press) Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay lost their son Matthew, 27, on Friday, April 5, to suicide. Rick Warren released an emotional statement to Saddleback’s staff, which has since been broadly published:

“Over the past 33 years we’ve been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I’ve been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us.”

Among those expressing compassion for the Warrens was Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee and a former SBC president.

Page and his wife Dayle lost a 32-year-old daughter, Melissa, to suicide in 2009.

Page stated via Twitter the day after Matthew Warren’s suicide: “My heart is broken as I’ve heard the news about Rick Warren’s son. Please pray. Unfortunately, I understand that which they experience now.” Read more at

Haircuts and clean feet in New Orlenas
A team of 24 women traveled to New Orleans last week to minister in partnership with the Baptist Friendship House and missionary Kay Bennett. They served the city’s homeless population with a free health fair, where they offered haircuts, feet-washing stations, and listening ears. The day after they returned to Illinois, volunteer Kim Evrard said she woke up with a heavy heart. “This morning, I wake up and realize I barely slept because I can’t stop thinking about the people I met, and tears won’t stop this morning,” Evrard wrote in an email.

“I am so blessed. My heart is so heavy for the people I met.” Read more in the April 15 issue of the Illinois Baptist, online at

Nearly 9 in 10 Americans own Bible
As History Channel wrapped up its well-watched miniseries on the Bible, Barna and American Bible Society released their “State of the Bible” report, which found the book is still a staple in most households. Of the 1,005 American adults surveyed, 88% own a Bible and 80% said the Bible is sacred; 61% said they wish they read it more. Read more at

SBC’s non-Calvinists host ‘John 3:16’
The recent John 3:16 Conference in suburban Atlanta gathered more than 350 people and several prominent Southern Baptist leaders for a discussion of Calvinism in the SBC. The conference speakers, brought together by Jerry Vines Ministries, focused on the differences with those who identify with Reformed theology, but also emphasized cooperation and unity, reported Baptist Press. Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist in Memphis, Tenn., said Calvinists are not his enemy. “I can work with them,” he said. “There is no need for a takeover. We need to live together.” Read more at

Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.