Edie and David Cole have a long history of being connected to a faith community, but in 2002 when they moved to Naples, they had to start over. “We were looking for fellowship,” she shared. “Music was also important to us.” Edie remembers her teacher in the 4th grade requiring the children to do “twice as much of the thing they were good at,” and Eddie was good at music.

During their first visit to Emmanuel, Pastor Frank Lee introduced them to Donna Fields who lived in their neighborhood. Edie and David immediately connected with Donna, but also with the music, Christ-centered preaching, and a small group. While Edie’s ongoing faith formation needs were quickly being met by Emmanuel, she was feeling called to go, to do more for God’s people by using her spiritual gifts. Through her connection with the Emmanuel choir, she answered God’s call to share her gift of music with those at the nursing home. “This was before Covid, but we would go every Monday and sing the old hymns,” she shared with joy in her eyes. “We were always afraid they would think we were talking {singing} down to them, but we always sang Jesus Loves Me, and they loved it.”

One of the residents, at 103 years of age, gave Edie a hug one day, “Oh, I just love you,” she told Eddie.

Edie misses being able to share her gift of music at the nursing home due to Covid. She misses choir fellowship and singing. This has been a most difficult year for Edie, not only because of ongoing losses due to Covid, but her dear husband David entered the church triumphant as well. August the 18th would have been their 59th wedding anniversary.

“The church has kept me anchored,” Edie shared with tears of gratitude and grief. “Without an active living faith and community, I could not have gone through the last year.”

“The church has kept me anchored”

While Edie has not been able to share her gift of music in recent months, God continues to use her to draw others closer. God continues to use Edie to support others in the ways God uses Emmanuel to support her. Edie calls this a “God Wink.”

One afternoon in her neighborhood she started talking to a man who had also recently lost his spouse. During his wife’s battle with ALS, they had gotten away from the church. In true Edie fashion she said, “Well, you should worship with Emmanuel.” Edie didn’t just invite, she drove him to worship. After David’s passing, it was hard for Edie to come to worship alone. God used her neighbor as a God Wink to shepherd her back to her church family.

In providing for the needs of those who call Emmanuel home, God is also forming faith and spiritual gifts to connect with others. God is transforming the people of Emmanuel, like Edie into disciples, calling them to God. For Edie, these God Winks are everywhere, and she is grateful to Emmanuel for helping her recognize them and for supporting her through so much.

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