Turning Trials into Testimonies
November 20, 2017
Berthena knew the goodness of God in times of rejoicing, but she also learned about His goodness in a time of loss.
y upbringing was in the way of holiness. Both of my parents were saved and they raised their children very strictly. It seems like I knew about the Gospel my whole life. At the age of twelve I prayed and asked the Lord to save me, and He did, but through my teenage years my commitment to the Lord was weak. I was in church regularly and always wanted to be saved, but I also wanted to do some of the things that my peers at school did—things which I knew I shouldn’t do. Although I never went deep into sin, it was a constant struggle for me, and for several years it seemed I was continually asking God to forgive me for one thing or another.
At age twenty-one, I realized that I needed more from God. One night I prayed and did my first works over, repenting and making a serious commitment to the Lord. That night He saved my soul and put me on the Rock that would hold me steady for the rest of my life. I continued to seek God and He sanctified me and then baptized me with the Holy Ghost, all within one year. That was in 1974, and these experiences from God have stood the test of time.
Losing Everything We Owned
The year I turned twenty-one was also the year I married my husband, McKeever. We lived in a mobile home trailer in a town called Greenleyville just outside of Kingstree, South Carolina. Only a few years after we were married, we had a severe fire at our home. At the time I was working at a daycare, and our oldest son, who was two years old, would come with me to work. The morning of the fire, I had packed one change of clothes for my son to have at daycare. My husband was working nights for Georgia Pacific, so he was in bed asleep. He said something jarred him in his sleep, but he ignored it at first. He felt something jar him again, harder that time, but again he dismissed it. A third time something really shook him, and he said it felt as though someone pushed him. That got him up because he knew no one else should be in the room, and then he realized the trailer was full of smoke. He ran outside to see if he could get something to put out the flames, but once outside he saw that the trailer was engulfed. Then he tried to move our truck away, but he couldn’t get it to start. The truck and the trailer burned together.
Around 9:00 a.m. I got a call about what had happened. When I arrived at the scene, the trailer was in ashes, and my husband was standing there with neither shirt nor shoes. It was a miracle that he made it out safely, but we lost everything we owned.
On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the sisters from church came out and cooked and the brothers put up our house in one day. It had four rooms and a bathroom. By the following week it was finished enough for us to move in.
That seemed to be an impossible situation, but the Lord was able to fix it all. Many of the brothers at church were contractors at that time, and they told us that if we would buy the materials, they would help build us a home. Two weeks later was Thanksgiving weekend, and by that time we had all the material on our property. On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the sisters from church came out and cooked and the brothers put up our house in one day. It had four rooms and a bathroom. By the following week it was finished enough for us to move in. In fact, that was in 1977 and we are still living in that home today, although we have added on more rooms since then. The Lord turned that disaster into a testimony of the goodness of the family of God.
Witnessing God's Healing Power
My husband and I had two more children; another son and then a daughter. While we were raising our family, the Lord proved Himself faithful to us many times. Over the years I grew to love praying at the altars and praying for others when they were facing trials. When I hear that someone is having a financial problem or health trouble, I love to pray for them and see God answer.
Once, about five years ago, my older sister Daisy was in a really bad car accident. She was seventy-one years old and in the accident she broke her neck, tore her aortic valve, and had other injuries as well. The doctors didn’t think she would make it through the night, but I told them, “You do what you can do, and I’ll do what I can do.” The best thing I could do was to pray, and many others prayed as well. My sister underwent an operation and stayed on a respirator for months, but the Lord brought her out of it and she is doing well today.
Four years ago I had my own health scare. Breast cancer plagues my family; I have four first-cousins who were diagnosed with breast cancer and died of the disease within months. When I found a lump on my body that seemed to be cancerous, I made an appointment with a specialist. Upon seeing my condition, she wanted to admit me immediately, but she let me go home that night. She scheduled an appointment to come back for a biopsy the next morning.
She could not believe what she saw: the cancer was not there. I asked her how long she had been studying cancer and she said, “Thirty-eight years, and I’ve never seen this before!”
At home, I prayed and asked God to heal me. I could hardly sleep at all, and at two o’clock that morning, I sensed something was changing in me physically. By the time I got to the hospital later that day, the lump had changed to the point that the doctors could not even do the biopsy. They checked me and then said, “You don’t have cancer.” The specialist from before still wanted to see me to do an MRI; I had looked so bad before that she thought the cancer had probably already spread in my body. When I next saw her, only three days had passed and she could not believe what she saw: the cancer was not there. I asked her how long she had been studying cancer and she said, “Thirty-eight years, and I’ve never seen this before!” God gave me a new lease on life, and I haven’t had any signs of cancer since.
The Lord also raised up two of my nephews when we prayed for them. The first one was having breathing problems and was not expected to survive until the next day. I traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, to see him, and I remember getting into the hospital bed with him and praying. God gave me a confirmation in my heart that he was going to live, and he did. He is doing fine today. Then last year, another nephew was desperately ill and I flew to Baltimore to be with him. His weight had dropped from about 250 to 180 pounds and he was on a respirator. He could not walk or carry on a conversation; his condition looked terrible. Prayer was made for him night and day, and over the space of a week, the Lord restored his health to where he could communicate and walk. One day the doctors told us he would have permanent liver damage, but the following day they changed that diagnosis and said he would not have permanent liver damage after all. He continued to improve and today he is working again.
Trusting in God's Sufficient Grace
So many times the Lord has proved that He is able to heal, but last spring we had a family emergency and the Lord chose to do something different. One day as I was leaving the noonday prayer hour at church, my son called and told me that my eight-year-old granddaughter, McKaylan, had a seizure. When I got to the hospital to see her, she was not responding to anyone. Her skin was clammy, and to me it looked like she was near death. Her mother and I were both by her bedside and we prayed fervently, asking the Lord not to take her. Then, for no apparent reason, she just woke up. The doctors ran tests and said she was perfectly fine. Her mind was clear and her heart was strong, and after two days she was discharged.
McKaylan went back to school and her teacher said she seemed just as sharp as before that incident. However, the following Friday, nine days after her seizure, McKaylan told her school teacher she didn’t feel well. They called an ambulance and when I found out, I drove to the hospital to see her. During my fifteen-minute drive, as I prayed I found myself repeating over and over, “Your grace is sufficient.” I didn’t understand why, but when I opened my mouth, those were the only words I could say.
She stopped for a moment and told me, “Grandmama, I love you.” I told her, “McKaylan, I love you more than anything I can think of.” I did not realize she was telling me goodbye; I did not know she was about to die.
At the hospital, McKaylan was alert and talking, but she was also suffering with stomach pain. You could hear her crying from outside the room. Her mother was already there, and there was a lot of commotion with the nurses struggling to take a blood sample and McKaylan hollering from the pain. My brother, Eugene Segres, Jr., is the pastor of our church in Kingstree, and he also came with his wife, Gertie, to anoint and pray for McKaylan. In the midst of everything, she stopped for a moment and told me, “Grandmama, I love you.” I told her, “McKaylan, I love you more than anything I can think of.” I did not realize she was telling me goodbye; I did not know she was about to die. The last time she had been in the hospital, I thought I saw death and I prayed for the Lord not to take her. But this time, the Lord did not allow me to understand what was happening, and so I did not even pray for Him to heal her. I cannot really explain it, but the only prayer I could say was, “Your grace is sufficient.”
About thirty minutes later, McKaylan took a hard gasp, and she left us. The doctors came in and tried to revive her, but she was gone. Later they told us that the cause of death was complications from the flu virus she’d had the month before, which resulted in her having a heart attack.
Losing a granddaughter was something that I had never had to deal with before, but God has been keeping me day by day. Right after it happened, the devil tried to discourage my soul. The thought came to my mind, “You prayed for your sister and your nephews, and they survived. But your own granddaughter? God didn’t save her.” But as I considered it more, I realized that God did save her. When we prayed for her the first time, He gave us a week and two days. The Lord really encouraged my heart when He showed me that He gave us that extra time with her. And the second time around, He simply didn’t let me know to pray for healing. All I could say was, “Your grace is sufficient,” and it is.
Even though we were mourning our loss, the Lord still showed His goodness and blessed us.
The Lord continued to help our family in that difficult time. My son did not have life insurance for his daughter, but the Lord took care of the funeral expenses so we did not have to worry about it. They had made arrangements to pay half of the funeral costs on the day of McKaylan’s service and then do monthly installments for the rest. However, when we collected all of the cards people had sent, their donations covered all of the expenses. Two or three days later, someone called and said she wanted to pay for the entire funeral. When I told her it had already been paid for through donation, she said she wanted to give that money to my children anyway, and they were able to have some work done that they needed on their house. So even though we were mourning our loss, the Lord still showed His goodness and blessed us. In the months following McKaylan’s passing, we have seen several members of our family give their hearts to the Lord, and that is encouraging to my soul as well.
Through everything that has happened in my life, I can say that God has been good to me. I thank Him for salvation, sanctification, the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire, and that I do have joy down in my heart. I am a happy Christian and I want to let my light shine. If I can help somebody some way, then I know my living won’t be in vain. One day I want to see Jesus and to hear Him say, “Well done.”
Turning Trials into Testimonies