GOOSE CREEK — Parishioners of Immaculate Conception experienced a unique Lenten mission March 28-31 with guest speakers Brent Heiser and Bill Wegner, lay ministers with Good News International.
“We didn’t want the sameness that usually comes with parish missions,” said Father Frank Palmireri, pastor. “It’s not the same when parishioners can hear from their own peers rather than a priest.”
The theme for this year’s mission “Messed Up and Loved” emphasized the fact that “we’re all sinners and have problems, but it’s all about falling down and getting back up,” according to Wegner. “This is an excellent topic to use during the Lenten season.”
Each day’s talk included music, prayer, and oftentimes a mass benediction. Wegner and Heiser each alternated as speakers covering the topics of Scripture, the call to holiness, reconciliation, and the loving Father using the Sermon on the Mount as the foundation for their talks.
“The Sermon on the Mount is the Magna Carta of the kingdom for the church,” said Heiser. “We just take Christ’s words and explain how to live it out in our daily lives.”
The two men, who come from different walks of life, shared their testimonies with the parishioners as well. Heiser hails from North Carolina, while Wegner comes from New Jersey. The two men answered God’s call to ministry but didn’t actually meet until they both attended an evangelization workshop in Florida. It was then that they discussed a joint ministry which has taken them all over the United States, as well as Central America, and Ireland.
“We were very successful businessmen in our hometowns before we started doing this ministry,” said Wegner. “We felt that God was calling us to live a life of faith and to live out the Gospel and become apostles to the world.”
“We knew that God was calling us to the ministry not another business that we called a ministry,” he said. “We will go anywhere we are requested to go.”
And it is this sacrificial step of faith that has enabled many parishes who otherwise couldn’t afford it to conduct missions.
“We have gone to some parishes that have never had a mission in the entire history of their church because they could never afford it,” said Heiser. “The goal of these missions summed up in one word would be conversion.”
Wegner recalled one dramatic conversion experience that took place some time back that made it clear to him that he had made the right choice in answering God’s call to ministry.
“One young woman stopped by the church one Sunday night to say goodbye to God,” he said. “She was on her way to kill herself and happened to walk in during one of my missions. She returned the following night. She thanked me later and said God had used me to save her life. When I think about not doing this, I think about her.”
“Most conversions aren’t this dramatic,” Wegner said, “but they are still just as real and just as important.”
“We just pray that our mission stimulates the faith of those we speak to,” said Heiser. “It is this excitement about our faith that makes our walk with Christ deeper.”