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by Pastor Sarah W. Utterbach

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged by God with greater strictness. (James 3:1, NLT

Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. (James 4:17, NLT)

On April 10, John Bevere ministered two services at our church in New York. During the Sunday evening service, at his instruction, I stepped back and into a "force field" of the power of God. That’s the only way I know how to describe it. It was greater than any anointing I have ever experienced in my life.

When I got home that evening, I prayed, "Lord, when it comes to the ministry gift You’re giving me, please let me never, ever step back into the natural no matter what others may think or what they may prefer. Help me obey You, come what may."

You ought to be careful when you ask God for things like that because you get an opportunity to put it into practice quickly.

It is with mixed emotions that I announce to you the passing of my husband, Clinton H. Utterbach, on Saturday, April 16, at 2 a.m. His spirit is with Jesus, and his body was interred on Tuesday, April 19, at 11 a.m.

Over the years, Clinton and I agreed to forego services of any kind and to teach the people to keep their focus on Jesus, who, Paul states, "will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me?’" (Hebrews 13:5-6) In lieu of flowers or food of any kind, gifts to RLCC for our renovation project or to complete the donor wall in Pastor Clinton’s name will be greatly appreciated.

In February, Clinton was operated on to replace a leaking heart valve. For several months prior, he had been retaining extreme amounts of fluid. Although he had been found fit to undergo surgery, after the procedure his recovery was impeded by his weakened immune system which had already been compromised due to the kidney transplant he had four years ago. He remained in intensive care since the surgery.

When I went to visit him at the hospital after prayer service on the 15th, there was not any change in his condition. The doctors had given up, but he was alive. He was moving his eyes and his head, and he was aware that I was there. But when I kissed him, I realized that his mouth, face, and hands were so cold that it was only going to be a matter of hours or at best a day before he just decided to go to sleep in Christ. His body was doing what the Bible says all flesh is going to do -- it was perishing.

As I share this with you, I’m experiencing mixed emotions. Part of me is screaming, yet another part of me realizes that Clinton has no more pain. No more suffering. No more sickness -- nothing. He is free.

I spent that Saturday pretty much alone. I didn’t need phone calls or visitors. I needed to get myself together and spend time with the Lord to ask Him all the questions I needed to ask. So that’s what I did and I am so grateful to Him for His presence. I thought I knew some things about the peace of God; truly, it is a peace that passes understanding. You can’t even begin to understand or describe this kind of peace. You just have to experience it for yourself. Finally, I told my driver since he would need to take me around to make all the arrangements. But I didn’t want anyone at the church to know ahead of anyone else. I told our granddaughter on my way to church and informed our assistant Minister Lewis at church just before I shared it with the congregation.

When I made the announcement to our flock, all of us took a moment together to shed tears and express the emotion that each of us felt. Then, we put our focus back on Jesus.

The song says, "I’ll go the distance. No matter the opposition, I’m standing firm in my conviction that in Christ Jesus I’ll go the distance."

Those words have become my anthem.

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