Green Hearts

“This book is rare. It never suggests Christians can sidestep life’s toughest issues. But there’s warmth, hope, insight, and reassurance of God’s love and support through the darkest times. Every chapter moved me and helped me. Green Hearts is a book for those who face struggles, which is all of us.”

Dr. Alistair Brown, Oxford, England
Retired President of Northern Seminary | Lisle, IL

“For forty plus years I have practiced medicine/surgery. During that time I have seen hundreds and thousands of people experience tragedy, grief, and sorrow. True healing, whether physical or spiritual, is a continual process. There will always be a scar. Green Hearts reminds me that Jesus indeed calmed the Sea of Galilee, and there is no storm in our hearts that He cannot calm or heal.”

Randy W. Cooper, MD, Chief of Surgery
University Hospital | Augusta, GA


Life is not skipping from mountain peak to mountain peak. Everyone experiences pain. It is the common ground on which all humanity stands. This book presents some of the most tragic and painful situations of life and answers the hard question of “why” from a Christian perspective. The inspiration for this book comes from the sudden death of one of the co-author’s ten-year-old daughter, Ella, who loved “Green Hearts.” In addition to real-life stories of God’s goodness in the worst of times, topics include:

  • Understanding and dealing with grief
  • Questioning God during difficult times
  • Helping someone who is grieving
  • Surprising things God does during tragedy
  • Answering the problem of pain, evil, and suffering
  • Forgiving a person who has hurt you


“I was president at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary when several of our students were killed in the Wedgwood Baptist Church shootings. During the community-wide service honoring the lives of the students, one of the clergy prayed a simple prayer: ‘Father, thank You that You waste nothing. Amen.’ With honesty and transparency, Jeff Bumgardner and Stephen Cutchins share personal stories of grief and give comfort by reminding us that ‘God never wastes a hurt.’ He is still good in the worst of times. Green Hearts is help for those who are hurting.”

Dr. Ken Hemphill, Special Assistant to the President
North Greenville University | Tigerville, SC

“A mentor told me years ago to never speak beyond my own experiences. I have not known the depths of this kind of pain and grief in my own life but have watched others walk through it. Jeff and Stephen write from a perspective of walking through their personal losses and struggles. Green Hearts is the kind of book I want to share with those around me who are walking their own difficult journeys.”

Denise Jones, Christian Music Artist
Point of Grace | Brentwood, TN

“In writing Green Hearts, Jeff Bumgardner and Dr. Stephen Cutchins have rendered a great service to the body of Christ. In my more than half-century of ministry, one of the most persistent questions I have been asked is, “Why do terrible things happen to Christians, and what do you do when it happens to you?” Green Hearts answers these questions in inspiring, yet easy to understand ways. Putting a human face on the problem of grief by using the testimonies of real people who have experi- enced terrible tragedy gives Green Hearts even greater impact. I am ordering a steady supply of Green Hearts to share with people who are dealing with grief.”

Dr. Richard Land, president
Southern Evangelical Seminary | Charlotte, NC

“Dr. Cutchins and Jeff Bumgardner have provided a book that contains some of the best of truths about some of the worst of times. Those who do not read it will miss experiencing the utmost about His highest in their lowest moments of life.”

Dr. Norman Geisler, Distinguished Senior Professor of Theology and Apologetics
Southern Evangelical Seminary | Charlotte, NC

“Green Hearts” on the shelf at Barnes and Noble

“I am honored to commend and encourage this book to all who read it. The authors are men of God whose faith and character have been hammered out upon the anvil of heartbreak and hardship. They write not as theorists, but practitioners. They do not provide philosophies of suffering, but the reality of it. Suffering and death exert life-altering impact on all of us—our faith, our relationships, our future. You may not want to read this book, but you cannot avoid the need for its message and ministry to help provide a hope and a future beyond your present suffering. I recommend you read it.”

Dr. David H. McKinley, Pastor-Teacher
Warren Baptist Church | Augusta, GA

“Green Hearts describes grief and loss with stunning clarity. If you have experienced grief, you will see yourself in the thoughts and actions, fears and pain, and feel to the depths of your soul the reality of loss on this messy planet. But you will also experience the hope of these who have walked in the darkest of days and can still say, ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him’ (Job 13:15). That is the hope we have in Christ—’God did this so that . . . we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure’ (Hebrews 6:18-19b NIV).”

Dr. Norma Hedin, Provost
Dallas Baptist University | Dallas, TX

“What do you do when you are in the presence of God and wor- ship will not come? As you read this compelling book, you will discover the stories of many who have been in that exact spot. There is tremendous help in the pages that are in front of you. As you consider the reality you face, you will also encounter a God who is big enough to redeem any situation!”

Dr. David B. Horton, President
Fruitland Baptist Bible College | Hendersonville, NC

“Have you ever noticed how a broken arm is easier to heal than a broken heart, a shattered dream, or a splintered life? In Green Hearts, Dr. Stephen Cutchins and Jeff Bumgardner offer help and hope for those whose emotional pain and grief is real and raw. They share from the depths of their own experiences of personal, painful loss, and they give a voice to others who share their own stories of hurt and recovery as well. The spot-on scriptural insights, combined with the testimonies, remind us that God is always incredibly good, even if life is sometimes terribly bad. There’s healing here. I recommend this book.”

Dr. J. Kie Bowman, Senior Pastor
Hyde Park Baptist/The Quarries Church | Austin, TX

“The longer I serve in ministry, the more I’m convinced that most of us don’t know how to deal with pain. Stephen Cutchins and Jeff Bumgardner reminded me of my own times of heartbreak; but they also reminded me that God is infinitely good, even in the darkest moments of life. The stories in this book will break your heart, but they will also point to the comfort that broken hearts long for.”

Ryan Rush, Senior Pastor
Kingsland Baptist Church | Katy, TX

“Whether asking why or how questions in the darkness of grief, Green Hearts shares light and hope. The reader will experience authentic empathy and help from fellow strugglers who have experienced the goodness of God in their darkest hours.”

Dr. Steve Cloud, President
Vision Ventures | Columbia, SC

“Bumgardner and Cutchins share with every reader how to get help from God and His people to handle the emotional journey we all take sooner or later—the journey through grief. I was moved, blessed, and helped practically, and you will be too.”

Dr. Dick Lincoln, Retired Pastor
Shandon Baptist Church | Columbia, SC

“Everyone has experienced, or will experience, grief and pain as we go through life. This collection of testimonies, words of explanation and counsel, and appropriate Bible passages should help every reader. Hearts that are ‘green’ with bitterness and disappointment can become ‘green’ with new vitality by reading this book.”

Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Senior Professor Emeritus of Bible Exposition
Dallas Theological Seminary | Dallas, TX

“Grief is both universal and unique. We all face it, but the circumstances surrounding each loss and the relationships involved make it something hard to pin down when trying to comfort those in need of comforting. What I love about this book is that it doesn’t try to give one definitive answer for the grieving, but it shows that loss and grief do not have to define you and that there will be a tomorrow when the sun will actually shine again. For those of us who have walked through these dark valleys, Green Hearts is a comforting recollection of where we’ve been. And for those who have yet to journey to that unfortunate place, it is a refreshing map to show the way across and through.”

Joel Lindsey, Christian Music Songwriter and Publisher | Santa Barbara, CA


Recent Posts

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

To understand Martin Luther King, Jr., a brief overview of history is helpful. In 1777, the Vermont legislature became the first to abolish slavery. “By 1820 slavery was no longer a national establishment. It was a southern enterprise. Of the 1.5 million slaves in the United States, 99 percent resided in southern states and territories” (Phillips, 2000, p. 6). 

When Lincoln was elected to the presidency in 1860, the South revolted, and seven states seceded from the United States before he could even be sworn into office. Those seven states formed the Confederate States of America. Within six months, eleven states had left the Union. “When Confederate troops fired on the Union-held Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina— a four-year war, the bloodiest in American history, began” (Phillips, 2000, p. 11). Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, and declared that more than three million slaves in the rebellious southern states were free.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in 1929, just before the Great Depression. He was brilliant and graduated high school at the early age of fifteen. King later earned his doctor of philosophy from Boston University’s School of Theology. He became “the most important civil rights leader in the twentieth century” (King, 1996, p. ix). He was high energy and an action-oriented man with something to say about the state of affairs regarding American racial equality. 

“The America he addressed was different from the America of today. It was a nation whose racial wrongs were sanctioned by unjust laws” (King, 1996, p. ix). His task was one that would require a great deal of discipline, patience, and courage. He established himself as a leader in a movement that would change the tone of racial equality in the United States of America. King believed that “if America is to remain a first-class nation, it cannot have second-class citizens” (King, 1996, p. 67).

“Dr. King once said that when a crisis is placed right out in the open, leaders will naturally emerge out of the situation” (Phillips, 2000, p. 334). King was a man who cared deeply about people. Perhaps this was because he had a pastor’s heart. He also encouraged his people to care for each other. “Dr. King was able to provide people with a sense of hope. Even when things look their bleakest, he would express optimism: ‘Somehow, I still believe we’re going to get there,’ he’d say” (Phillips, 2000, p. 338).

The Leadership of Martin Luther King Jr.

Great leaders are judged by their ability to make leaders. It is simply not enough to evaluate a leader’s effectiveness by the number of followers they can accumulate. Leaders make leaders. “A leader must know who he is, and who he is dealing with; and then he must lead” (Brookhiser, 2009, p. 238). 

James Burns has been identified by many as one of the key writers on leadership. Burns wrote that “transforming leadership, while more complex, is more potent” (Burns, 2012, p. 4). In this statement, Burns is differentiating transformational leadership from other types of leadership. 

Northouse picks up this thought and says further that “transformational leadership places a strong emphasis on followers’ needs, values, and morals” (Northouse, 2016, p. 177). 

Heifetz emphasizes that leadership should be more normalized than glamorized. One of his main points is to normalize leadership activity rather than elevate it to an exclusive position of authority. “Leadership takes place every day. It is neither the traits of the few, a rare event, or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” (Heifetz, 1994, Kindle Location 4320). 

King had this life-long approach and expression of leadership. He did not merely hold a position of power and authority or mystically become a great leader. King learned, adapted, and grew through various seasons of life. Heifetz further points out that “every time we face a conflict among competing values, or encounter a gap between our shared values and the way we live, we face the need to learn new ways” (Heifetz, 1994, Kindle Location 4320). King had this type of need for learning. 


Dr. King had many strengths, but his greatest strength was his ability to speak to people with passion and clarity. “Modern scholars have acknowledged Martin Luther King, Jr., to be one of the great orators in American history— and have ranked his ‘I have a dream’ speech with Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address” (Phillips, 2000, p. 88).

King delivered one of his most remembered speeches in 1963 at the centennial signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. “Although many of the phrases and themes that appear in ‘I Have a Dream’ had often been repeated by Dr. King, this is his most famous and most often quoted speech. He delivered it before the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963” (King, 1996, p. 101). King is quoted as saying, “one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free … so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition … in a sense, we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check … instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check” (King, 1996, p. 102).

More than just a great speaker, King was dedicated to being an activist as well. He was known as a patriot who regularly risked his life to fight for racial equality in America. Another of his strengths was his implementation of nonviolent assault. “King believed that only through a massive nonviolent assault would conditions change for black Americans” (King, 1996, p. xi). He taught that nonviolent campaigns consisted of four steps. First is the collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive. The second is negotiation. The third is self-purification. Fourth is direct action. 

King believed that people needed to learn to respect each other and live together in equality. “This means that no individual or nation can live alone. We must all learn to live together, or we will be forced to die together” (King, 1996, p. 19). King was also a great advocate of servant leadership. He taught and spoke regularly on the different types of love and emphasized agape love. However, he also believed that “nonviolent resistance does call for love … a very stern love that would organize itself into collective action to right a wrong by taking on itself suffering” (King, 1996, p. 44). King desired to be a servant leader. His heartbeat for this is captured by his words in two different speech excerpts.

“And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important – wonderful. If you want to be recognized – wonderful. If you want to be great – wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s your new definition of greatness. And this morning, the thing that I like about it … by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great. Because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant” (King, 1996, pp. 189-190).

“If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize, that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards, that’s not important. Tell him not to mention where I went to school. I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try to feed the hungry. And I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try, in my life, to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity” (King, 1996, p. 191).


One of the challenges of King’s approach was the slow nature of how change would be realized. King acknowledged this himself. “I do not want to give the impression that nonviolence will work miracles overnight. Men are not easily moved from their mental ruts or purged of their prejudiced and irrational feelings. When the underprivileged demand freedom, the privileged first react with bitterness and resistance” (King, 1996, p. 60). Another challenge in King’s work was the uphill battle of fighting his time’s injustices without breaking the law. Many times, the law was against King and his movement. He responded to this with a landmark philosophical statement.

“I would agree with Saint Augustine that “An unjust law is no law at all. A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality” (King, 1996, p. 89).

King also struggled with the apathy of many of the people that he was trying to help. On occasion, he would be as critical of his people as he was of the people who opposed him. He wanted his people to rise up and realize their power and potential. “Power is not the white man’s birthright” (King, 1996, p. 165). The following excerpt exposes the frustration King felt toward his people’s apathy and their violent reactionary response to racial slurs from white people. 

“It is always amusing to me when a Negro man says that he can’t demonstrate with us because if someone hit him he would fight back. Here is a man whose children are being plagued by rats and roaches, whose wife is robbed daily at overpriced ghetto food stores, who himself is working for about two-thirds the pay of a white person doing a similar job and with similar skills, and in spite of all this daily suffering it takes someone spitting on him or calling him a nigger to make him want to fight” (King, 1996, p. 129).

Of course, King would be firmly against fighting in response to verbal slander. But his point here is more focused on the apathy that had developed regarding the day-by-day conditions of life for his people. King wanted to “strategically and intentionally set out to persuade others to take up the ‘weapon’ of nonviolent direct action” (Phillips, 2000, p. 62).

King was a transformational leader who embodied servant leadership. 

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