Image Credit: Heidi Baumgartner

God Saves Lives on Olympic Peninsula

Melissa Reidel felt a sense of guilt at her Aunt Dee’s memorial service.

“She would invite me every Sabbath and every Sabbath I would make an excuse about why I couldn’t go,” Reidel remembered. “My aunt was so on fire for the Lord. She showed the love that Jesus had for everybody.”

Reidel started watching church online with her kids. One Sabbath, Reidel felt impressed to visit Port Angeles Church. That Sabbath an acquaintance named Rachel Sizemore was baptized.

“With Rachel’s baptism, you could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit,” Reidel said. “I felt in my heart, ‘This is what I need to do’ and ‘This is where you should be at.’ I left there with the thought that I would be baptized next.”

Reidel met Jay Coon, pastor, a couple of weeks later and proclaimed, “I’m going to be baptized just like Rachel.”

“That’s a message every pastor likes to hear,” quipped Coon.

Coon arranged for Sizemore, Reidel and her daughter Morrigan to study the Bible together. Sizemore’s mother’s funeral was a catalyst for her to come back to church, so the women had much in common.

Reidel and her children Morrigan and Zachary are growing in their faith at home, at church, in Sabbath School and at Auburn Adventist Academy where Morrigan and a friend from Forks are enrolled as freshmen.


Melissa Reidel knew on her first day visiting Port Angeles Church and seeing an acquaintance baptized that she would be the next person baptized. The Holy Spirit had been preparing her for this time.

Heidi Baumgartner

“Whenever someone is baptized, it’s a miraculous story,” said Mark Pekar, Sequim pastor.

Casey Bley came home from a chance meeting with Pekar and recommended that his wife Shari should visit the Adventist church. She did and soon became a member in 2020. The couple continued in Bible studies.

Bley had one severe roadblock: alcoholism. “My drinking finally reached a point where if something wasn’t done, I was going to die,” he said. “That’s not an exaggeration. I was truly in dire shape.”

Shari Bley rallied family, friends and her new church family to pray for her husband ahead of a planned intervention. A clinic in Tukwila called that morning saying they could take a new patient.

“After the intervention, I made the first rational decision in quite a while and I agreed to go,” said Bley, who was driven to the clinic that night. “The clinic wasn’t meant to be a pleasant place. You go there to kick a habit and begin your substance abuse recovery.”

After leaving the clinic, Bley still needed physical health recovery. Within a few months, he was enjoying activities that he loved.

“God reached down into my life and took away the desire to drink,” Bley said. “It’s a miracle that I don’t take for granted. I’m still vigilant about being a recovering alcoholic. Because of God’s love for me, I came out of my crucible a far better person.”

Bley picked up Bible studies again, met his new church family and was baptized in early September.

“My story isn’t real cheerful, but it has a good ending,” Bley said. “God forgave me of my sins and saved my life.”


Casey Bley shares his story of how God brought him from the dangerous depths of alcoholism into a new Holy Spirit infused life.

Heidi Baumgartner

Featured in: November/December 2022