Each month we ask community and business leaders of faith, who impact South Florida in profound ways, a one-sentence, lighthearted question designed to help the community get to know them better.
Like many, perhaps they too have suffered disappointment or things didn’t go as they planned.
So, this month Good News Wants to Know… What setback have you suffered that has inspired you?
Years ago, when one of my children was diagnosed with Asperger’s, it motivated me to go into overdrive researching causes and interventions. The answers I found ended up benefitting my family, and even my extended family, in ways I never anticipated!
Becky Dymond, Founder and Executive Director, Hepzibah House, Inc.
Psalm 138:8 says: “God will complete HIS purposes for me.” I’ve struggled with the fact that God’s purposes are not always aligned with my purposes. Being told as a young lawyer by my boss that I didn’t have a future with my dream firm, essentially being fired, was a setback that ultimately inspired me and caused me to refocus. It also taught me that everyone should begin in a job where they are susceptible to being “fired” verses having a job handed to them. There is something sobering, maturing and motivating when you work under the umbrella of a superior that you know can let you go.
William C. Davell, Director, Tripp Scott Attorneys at Law
Several years ago, I suffered a series of life-changing events, all within weeks of each other. They were disruptive and devastating, and I suffered so much loss I was reeling. In the midst of it all however, I realized I had never been completely dependent on God – I just fit Him in when and where I needed. God showed me in that season that I need Him every single minute.
Blake Silverstrom, Executive Director, Heart2Heart Outreach of South Florida
As a regular person that decided to offer myself for public service, I have experienced numerous setbacks in politics. However, the largest setback I have experienced that has truly inspired me happened two weeks before my first birthday when my father passed away suddenly from a heart attack. Of course I did not know him, but his legacy has inspired me each and every day to live up to his impeccable reputation. I realized that the example he left was my mother who was widowed at 25 years old, yet her determination to raise her two young sons inspires me and guides just about every decision I make. I am truly blessed to have her to speak with daily.
Chip LaMarca, Broward County Commissioner, District 4
My husband and I hadn’t yet had children when we divorced because of his unfaithfulness. Since I haven’t remarried and been blessed with children, I’ve held onto God’s promise to me from Isaiah 54:1 “. . .the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous than the sons of the married woman.” I’ve seen Him be so faithful–giving me scores of spiritual sons and daughters from more than 10 nations!
Deborah Cusick, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, FAU Campus Volunteer
I remember the day I was fired from a job at a church. It was the only time I had ever been fired, and it was shocking and crushing. But because of that moment and the months that followed, I found my next job at Calvary Chapel. This church was dreaming about a foster care ministry that would transform the way our community cared for orphans. As God would have it, He used a setback to move me to something far better than I could’ve imagined.
Doug Sauder, Pastor, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale
I realize this is going to sound trite, but I consider every setback as an inspiration to me because they are not an accident. God is speaking and my job is to listen, decipher and learn!
Fred Scarbrough, DVM, Founder, Scarbrough Animal Hospital and Hope South Florida
This is a good reflective yet inspirational question. The set back that comes to mind is giving birth to a micro preemie within a year of being selected for my dream opportunity of CEO of the Urban League. But since ALL things work together for good, it was a set up to inspire me to trust in God’s provision, protection and placement. It ended up being one of the most financially successful years of the company. Victoria is now a healthy and smart middle schooler, and thankfully I continue successfully in my role as CEO near 13 years later. To God be all the glory and honor!
Germaine Smith-Baugh, Ed.D., President/CEO, Urban League of Broward County
I love to quote these lines from a poem that helps me when there are setbacks. I try to look at them as God’s divine interruptions in life.
Disappointment – His Appointment (Drop the D, add an H): Disappointment – His Appointment; change one letter, then I see that the thwarting of my purpose is God’s better choice for me… (author unknown)
William Cooper 1774, wrote this hymn: God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm. You fearful saints, fresh courage take the clouds you so much dread will soon break with blessings on your head.
“Jesus replied, You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:7).
Gita Santangelo, Community Prayer Partner
“After getting fired twice, divorced and almost broke a couple of times, you realize no matter how bad it is, there is always somebody who has it worse and learn to never, ever give up.”
Gregg Wallick, President/CEO, Best Roofing
The biggest setback I’ve experienced was definitely losing my daughter Taylor at birth. It inspired me to use my pain to help teenage girls deal with their pain.
Linda Giambattista, Executive Director, Taylor’s Closet
There have been quite a few “setbacks” that God used to bring us into a new season. For over thirty years, my husband was in the construction business here in S. Florida. After the 2008 market crash, it affected his business and several years later we had to close a business after more than thirty years. It was a difficult time for us, but God used that to bring my husband into full-time ministry. We have to remember that God can turn around any situation!
Dr. Mary Drabik, President, South Florida Bible College & Theological Seminary
Not long after I accepted the role of Executive Director at Hope, one of our program directors resigned because she was moving out of the area. I was devastated and had to close my door and cry a little bit… but that still small voice said, “Trust me.” Watching God fill that position with exactly the right person inspired me to trust Him at a whole new level. He knows our needs before we do!
Nancy McDonald, President/CEO, Hope Women’s Centers
The biggest challenge for me has been to lose key people. But God has always provided someone that took the ministry to another level, which has taught me that opportunity often comes disguised as adversity.
Oksana Horton, Artistic Director , Revelation Ministries
When I was 14 years old, during the summer of 1963, I was denied a seat at a luncheon counter in a café in Kingstree, South Carolina, (my birth state) because of my race. This painful and hurtful incident inspired me to cultivate my character and seek the highest education possible to take away any excuse the white race would have for excluding me from their presence.
O’Neal Dozier, Pastor, Worldwide Christian Center
With a quick look back on my life at setbacks, it seems like physical setbacks always had a way of spurring me on to something better. When I broke my ankle in college, I made what seemed to be a hard decision at the time to abandon my football career and buckle down with my school work. That paid dividends with my grades. A later knee injury that required surgery during my young lawyer days made me slow down and spend more time with my wife and family and sharpen my legal skills. More recent surgery made me realize how thankful we need to be for our good health, and my walk with the Lord was strengthened due to my attitude of thankfulness. 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
Romney C. Rogers, Managing Partner, Romney, Morris & Ziegler, LLP
I suffer from chronic pain as a result of a car accident. I have been helped by the number of stories in church history of those who suffered much pain (e.g. Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon).
Samuel Lamerson, PhD, President/Professor of New Testament, Knox Theological Seminary
There have been times when a door closed, and it brought great disappointment. Those doors have been opportunities for God to teach and grow me. During those times, amazing things have happened. I have seen Him close one door, only to open another. He has always been faithful. I consider setbacks stepping stones to God’s perfect plan for my life.
Tewannah Aman, Executive Director, Broward County Right to Life
As the Mat Kearney song “Closer To Love” says: “We’re all one phone call from our knees.” It was the call in 2012 – the biopsy was positive, I had prostate cancer. Surgery, recovery, recurrence, hormone therapy, radiation, side effects, follow up, etc. James 4:14 tells us “…What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” That was my wakeup call to remind me of what is truly important, and to live each day as if it could be my last, because it truly could.
Thomas L. Lukasik, Vice President Community Engagement, 4KIDS OF South Florida
The major setback in my life and my parents’ was the loss of my precious 19-year-old sister, Irene, in a tragic traffic accident. Through this, we all had to seek the face of Jesus and gain strength through His strength, which we did. Out of this flowed an increased vision to give from our family foundation. Now untold amounts of people have been blessed. Not only that but I met my husband a month later after crying out to the Lord, and now we have been married 51 years!
We learned firsthand the meaning of the living Word of God: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
It is amazing to have to rely on the Lord and see him come through for us in extraordinary ways. Yes, I’m definitely inspired by our God who saves us!
Virlee “Vee” Stepelton, Ministry Advocate