- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Virginia Lt. Gov.-elect Winsome Sears says she and Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin “start our meetings in prayer,” acknowledging a need for guidance beyond the realms of politics and government.

“We ask for wisdom, you know, we do the Solomonic thing — the good part of Solomon,” she said, referring to the Israelite king regarded in Scriptures as the wisest man who ever lived.

Mrs. Sears, a Republican and the first Black woman to win statewide office in Virginia, is known for her deep faith and conviction. A longtime member of Victory Church, an Assemblies of God congregation in Winchester, she has volunteered for various responsibilities there, ministered on the street and served on the multimedia team running a soundboard or operating a video camera.

“Whatever else needed to be done, you know, if there was a funeral, I would help with the food or whatever; visiting the sick and the shut-ins, we did that,” she told The Washington Times.

The Rev. Len Burdick, senior associate pastor at Victory Church, says he’s known Mrs. Sears and her husband, Terence, “for 10 to 15 years” and the Sears family doesn’t feign their faith.

“They’re both good, solid, Christian people,” Mr. Burdick said. “I couldn’t say enough about how solid they are.”

The 500-member church’s lead pastor, the Rev. Keith Cross, says the congregation is excited that one of their own will be in state leadership.

“I think our people are really excited,” Mr. Cross said. “Because we know that God has raised her up for this moment. Look at Queen Esther, where God says that she’s come into the kingdom for such a time as this.”

The Rev. David Cunsolo retired last year as lead pastor, but he remains on the staff as facilities director. He says Mrs. Sears is “very forthright in what she believes is right, and what she needs to accomplish in a job or a position and doesn’t waver from that.”

For her, the notion of a divine appointment in taking a job is not unfamiliar. While working for a digital imaging company in the Tidewater region, she had a vision of herself helping women and children before the opportunity to manage a Salvation Army women’s shelter came up. It was her then-employer who had heard about the position at a business luncheon and urged her to apply.

“Now this is my boss telling me to leave him and go work for somebody else,” she recalled. “And I immediately told him, ‘Oh no, I’m not going.’ But when you’re guided by the [Holy] Spirit, you know, this is how it works.”

Mrs. Sears made the career change. “It was the best job I’ve ever had. I loved it, when I could just see how I could help to shape lives, bring them back, so that they could be productive citizens. I was supposed to work from eight to five. Heavens, I was there until 11 o’clock at night, just because I loved it so much.”

Dedication to helping others included her late daughter, DeJon. In 2004 when she was a Virginia House delegate, Mrs. Sears left the legislature to help the young woman, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Eight years later, DeJon and her two daughters, Victoria and Faith, died in a car crash.

“I struggled to call it a tragedy, because when you know that they’re looking into the face of God, you ask yourself, ‘How can you really call it a tragedy?’” Mrs. Sears said.

“Why would I want to not have my children be with God, where they’re not facing disease and destruction and lies and all kinds of sin. I mean, they’re looking at the glory of God that we would want to see,” she added.

At the same time, she concedes that the loss was severe.

“I immediately went to Job,” she said, referring to the biblical patriarch whose family was wiped out in an instant. “I said to the sheriff, ‘Well, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.’ And after that, I was collapsing everywhere,” said Mrs. Sears, 57.

Having faith that solid came through years of exposure and finally acceptance, she said.

It started with her grandmother, who would “kneel by her bedside, and take the end of the sheet and throw it over her head,” Mrs. Sears said. “And what I come to understand now is that that’s a prayer tent. We all understood as grandkids, when you see her doing that, you don’t bother her.”

At age 12, she “finally heard” the Christian message from a Sunday school teacher and “I just accepted it, right then and there,” she said.

After a period of being distant from the faith, she returned.

“After I had my children, I came back,” Mrs. Sears said. “It was just time. I’ve been meeting so many people, and I understand now that it was the Lord putting them in my life. I wanted what they had, and what they had was a true relationship with the Lord. So there I was, I came back.”

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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