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Reviving Parched Spiritual Ground in the West

A once-struggling Nebraska church has experienced spiritual renewal along with numerous miracles.

Kiley Callaway recalls an obscure incident 13 years ago that rerouted his pastoral path.

As a lead-pastor candidate for Northfield Church in Gering, Nebraska, Callaway and his wife, Kerry, had just completed interviewing with the deacon board in August 2011 before preaching a sermon and final voting by the congregation took place.

Callaway walked alone in a nearby park. He needed to pray and mull over the possibility of leaving his role as assistant pastor at Community Life Church in Port Charlotte, Florida, where he had experienced a powerful moving of the Holy Spirit.

Relocating to Nebraska’s Scotts Bluff County, sitting on the historic overland wagon trail, was a big deal. Especially for a pastor steeped in southern culture.

Gering is a community of 8,000 residents, 20 miles from the Wyoming border. They are hardworking and self-reliant. Newcomers must earn their respect.

“While walking on the park’s hot August soil, I sensed a challenging message from God,” Callaway, 57, says. “That as parched as the land is here, so are the souls of the people.”

On Nov. 11, 2011, he preached his inaugural sermon as the new pastor to a dwindling congregation of 41 people. By faith, he saw a full sanctuary in the future.

Callaway believed God was calling him to be a 21st century Nehemiah and rebuild Northfield’s vision for the lost. The congregation developed a renewed focus. For the first five years, five to ten women faithfully prayed in the church’s sanctuary every morning for one hour. They hungered for God, expecting miracles. Regular altar calls followed, something he considers a beacon of strength.  

“Kiley has a passionate mission mindset to raise up leaders from within,” says Toby Schneckloth, superintendent of the Nebraska Ministry Network. “He has served on our Healthy Ministries Team as a coach helping other churches.”

God has blessed the church with recent arrivals. Curvin Douglas and his wife were welcomed warmly when they chose Northfield as their home church. Originally from St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the West Indies, they moved to Gering from Brooklyn, New York, to be near their son in college. They fell in love with the west and stayed.

“Pastor Kiley preaches in and out of season and teaches the Bible as he should, with no watering down the Word of God,” Douglas says.

The church continues growing with more than 400 congregants at two campuses in Gering, and Chadron, Nebraska. The Gering building has been updated to include a family center for children. Callaway leads a part-time staff of seven (serving the nursery, preschool, and other ministries) and a fulltime accountant/secretary.

Many congregants have experienced wonderful healings, salvations, and baptisms.

In February 2024, Matthew Ojeda’s medical appointment for a routine blood pressure check showed an extremely high ALT (alanine transaminase enzyme) level, indicating hepatitis, liver disease, or cancer.

“I was scared I was going to die,” Ojeda, 42, admits. “I was also not following the Lord.”

He labeled himself a closet-alcoholic who hid his addiction for 20 years. He attended church regularly and maintained his respectability as a successful manager with a big-box retailer, a faithful husband, and father.

During a CAT scan of his liver and kidney to look for cancers and how bad his organs were, he raised his hands for God’s forgiveness and cried for the blood of Jesus to heal him.

“I promised the Lord if he healed me, I would devote my life to serve him,” he says.

Several days later, his physician read him the results of the CAT scan, revealing “All your organs are fine.”

Ojeda reads his Bible now, ushers and volunteers in the church youth group.

“I want to give my testimony to teenagers that alcohol is an absolute killer,” he stresses.

Jamie Sinks, 38, shares another medical miracle.

One year after being water-baptized in 2019 and publicly declaring her faith in Christ, she was diagnosed with an enlarged aortic artery that held the potential to grow into a deadly aneurysm. Her condition was related to a family genetic predisposition, which had caused the deaths of her mother and cousin.

In 2022, she ended up in a hospital emergency room with severe back pain and muscle fatigue, but was released due to unsure test results. However, two days later she could not walk or stand. She gained 15 pounds from severe water retention and her internal organs began shutting down.

After recovering at home and waiting for an appointment with her cardiologist, she called Pastor Callaway for urgent prayer. On the day of the appointment, she says she experienced God’s presence in her kitchen and an unexpected feeling of gratitude. Sinking to her knees and crying, she remembers thanking God repeatedly.

Her cardiologist confirmed her miracle. Test results revealed a normal size aortic artery. The enlargement had vanished and he had no medical explanation.

“I was speechless realizing God healed me,” Jamie recalls.

Northfield Church’s rural revival has birthed transformations, talents and abilities coming to life, Callaway believes. “The Lord has certainly saturated the parched souls,” he says. “We are expectant and hungry for a continuing great move of God.”

Peter K. Johnson

Peter K. Johnson is a freelance writer living in Saranac Lake, New York. More than 500 of his articles and short stories have appeared in Christian and mainstream magazines and newspapers, including the Pentecostal Evangel,Charisma, the Saturday Evening Post, Guideposts, and Decision. He also serves as a consultant and contributing editor to a scientific journal.