A Sunday morning somewhere in the world saw the woman being signaled by another. “Please pray for these children. Lay your hands on them and pray.”
The woman looked and took in an image of three huddled children; two girls and one boy. Their ages appeared to range from six to 12 years old.
“Who are they? What is their story?”
The woman was told . . .told the ugly story that resonates with countless other children who are accursed, disrespected, and tossed headlong into the societal rubbish that is strewn about our globe. Deeply troubled, the children have no set point, no guiding star, no clear direction for their raw baby lives. Physical, mental, and sexual abuse have been their instructors. Confusion, loss, and black abandonment are daily companions.
The woman grieved as she learned the little boy has never known his father. Never. The mother of the children are dead. The man who fathered his daughter, then had erotic activities with that child now fights for custody.
With stretched forth arms, the woman circled the three. “Come here,” she said to them. “I want to pray for you. Jesus loves you. I want you to always remember that. No matter what happens, do not forget that Jesus loves you. He’s on your side.” She prayed aloud as was her custom, the children standing still and huddling close to her. “Jesus, be the guardian of these dear children. Protect them. Keep them from harm . . . ” After the prayer, the conversation was of distances, and churches, and hope.
I met her when I was 18 years old. Now those two numbers are reversed, and with a bow to frank honesty I acknowledge myself to be 81. (Eighty-one? How can this be so? We will speak to that strange subject another day.) The husband to Lillian was Sam. My Jerry and I called the couple Brother and Sister White. We were all in church work; Brother White was the pastor of a church in Bellflower, CA. and Jerry was an evangelist. We wives toddled beside our men, making our unique contributions to life, and to the Work of God.
We became the dearest of friends. Together we worshipped, traveled, played, laughed (and cried), did business, pastored churches, planned conferences, cooked, ate great meals, celebrated weddings and birthdays and retirements over a period of more than sixty years. By then we had began using close names, and it was Sam and Lil and Jerry and Shirley.
Now, at 98 years old, she is gone, as is Sam (and is my Jerry.) Her sweet funeral was last Friday. (The following pictures compliments of Debbie Akers.)
She truly was a remarkable beautiful woman of God, and I believe it well within the mark to rank her with notable women of the Bible, and to revere her as such.
I nominate her to stand beside the chief women of Thessalonica who were among the first to receive the gospel at the preaching of Paul and Silas. As she labored in ministry with her beloved Sam, she is in line with Priscilla who labored in ministry with her husband Aquilla. I’ve seen her as strong as Deborah, and once when we wanted to begin Ladies Conferences and could be heard rumbles of disagreement in high places, she marched step in step with Esther and said, “If I perish I perish.” She was as capable as Abigail, as full of faith as the Syrophenician woman, as humble as Elizabeth, and as Mary, she was chosen of God. As was Dorcas, she was known for her good works. Perhaps John the beloved says it best when he dedicated one of his books to The Elect Lady.
Now she is gone, resting in the presence of God.
It was five years ago when Sam and Lil were visiting in our home in Crestline that I lined them up near the hearth of our fireplace to take their picture. How beautiful they are. Wrinkled. Used up.
(I would so love for you who knew the White’s well, to take the time to add your tribute in the comment section here.)
Our home sets at an altitude of nearly 5000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California with winters that are typically mild with only three or four significant snows in a season. Around 40 inches of rain fall during an average year. This has not been a typical year. We’re at 60 inches, and the winter–which season I generally love– hatefully drags on, as persistent as the ring of robocalls. The fog–since first light to this hour of early evening–has been as thick as cowboy coffee, and the thermometer hanging just outside my kitchen window refuses to stretch to the 40 degree mark. Within the last hour I saw a report of tornados touching down in central California, an extremely unusual situation.
So, for the second Sunday in a row, we did not go to church. We just don’t do fog. Last Sunday on my Facebook account I mentioned what a blessing internet live-streaming of church services is to Jerry and me, and how it provides the opportunity of being with groups of people all over the United States as they worship God. First thing this morning we went to church in Indianapolis with Pastor Mooney, then to Alexandria, La. with Pastor Mangun. We watched both Brother and Sister Larson minister in San Diego, then this afternoon Cherie Wilkins texted me a link to her church in Texas, pastored by Brother and Sister Tuttle.
Because we couldn’t go to regular church, we ate. Splurged. Indulged.
We’re now a bit on the lethargic side.
We’re warm and cozy.
Weather forecast: Rain all night. Possible snow from 1 to 3 am. Rain all day tomorrow.
Melina said it correctly, “This is a bittersweet day.” Indeed it was, for its curious boundaries metered funeral flowers, eulogies, and graveside committal words. Flowing tears and grievous expression held hands with mirth and laughing aloud.
Two of our sons, their wives, and one grandson, along with Jerry and me, had attended the funeral of our dear friend, Rev. Paul Walker. It was a beautiful service, where loving honor was paid to this great man of God. Jerry was honored by being asked to speak during the graveside service.
Jerry’s birthday had been the day before. He had already celebrated with birthday dinners and breakfasts, a myriad of phone calls from family and friends, and by opening packages received in person, and in the mail. These particular youngsters, though, had not seen him on his special day, although they had communicated by mail and by telephone calls.
“Dad,” said Andrew at the conclusion of the services. “Let’s go eat somewhere. Celebrate your birthday a bit more.”
No one knew a close-by place to eat, so Andrew and Shauna consulted maps and recommendations on their phone, and we all pulled up in front of Billy Qs in Palm Desert. It was a tiny pizza place, with not a table to seat us all, except for one with high stools, so we scurried around, and helped Jerry get seated up there. After we had received the drinks we had ordered, Andrew leaned in, and said, “There’s a really nice place next door. Want to pay for our drinks and go there?”
“No.” I said, “Let’s don’t do that.”
All agreed, and what a dynamite decision we made. The food is outstanding, and the people are fantastic. The female partner of the man/wife owners of the little place was our waitress . . .and she is a hoot.
My husband has a line he loves to use in restaurants–one which causes the rest of us to smile wanly, and take on an apologetic look. Sometimes we tuck our heads. “Do you take food stamps?” he asked Darnelle.
She missed not a beat. “Yes we do. However, you need to provide three forms of ID.” Wide-eyed, Jerry was speechless. The rest of us were howling.
The upward momentum never faltered during that fine hour. When Darnelle learned this was a birthday celebration of sorts, she went next door to Cold Stone, bought an ice cream cake, and set it at the end of our table. She scurried up a make-shift candle, and we sang. Before we left this charming place, Darnelle was in the middle of all of us, and we were hugging and promising to see each other again.
For part of the summer, she and her husband take an RV to Big Bear Lake, which is about 20 miles from where Jerry and I live. “We take a portable pizza oven there, and cook up pizzas for everyone in the RV park.” She wrote her phone number on the back of a card. “Call me. We also take a boat there. Love to take you out on it.”
I was doing some work on my blog sites today and came across this post from November 4, 2007. Some of you may recall that during this time Jerry and I went to Lake Havasu City, AZ. to plant a church, and from the very beginning God honored us with powerful services and dynamic growth. I consider that out of all the decades of our ministry, the three and a half years we were there were some of the most blessed of all our ministry. Much of our work was done with alcohol and drug challenged people.
I weep at this moment as I think of those dear people and their little children. Hard? It was the hardest church work we ever did. Rewarding? Yes, absolutely the most rewarding of all.
CHRIST ALIVE CHURCH Lake Havasu City, Arizona November 4, 2007
“We had rented 40 extra chairs, and on Saturday, Michael met with Jerry and me to set up for the Sunday morning service. When we started putting the chairs out, though, it looked like so many, that Michael’s faith and mine faltered a bit, and we decided to leave about a dozen of them stacked in the hall.
But we had invited lots of people. I had mailed letters to every person who has ever visited our church, we had made and distributed flyers, we had an article in the local paper, Jerry had made dozens of phone calls and personal contacts and Michael had invited everyone of the “Goatheads,” a yuppy, motorcycle group based here in Lake Havasu. Earlier in the week, one of them had called Mike to ask, “Is it okay if we ride our bikes to church?”
“Of course. Not a problem at all,” he had told them.
Jerry and I arrived at the church around 8:30 and there were already a few people there. But it was around 8:45 that we heard the roar of the bikes and soon the parking lot was inundated with motor cycles, so that finally there was hardly room to park.
They came pouring in, and quickly I told Brandon, “Set up the rest of the chairs.” When we had registered and counted, we found that 85 people were at Christ Alive today! Recall that we have only been here 8 months. We were ecstatic.
Brother Pence of Prescott, AZ. has a most remarkable testimony of a healing from cancer. The doctors had given him two weeks to live. He had 22 tumors in his lungs from a cancer that had metastasized from his kidneys.
He had lost 60 pounds, had made all his funeral arrangements even to picking out his casket…Here, he is showing the packet from the mortuary where he had made the arrangements. But God had different plans and has completely healed him! All the tumors have gone, his racking cough is cured, and recently, his doctors declared him completely cancer free. His testimony is incredible.
Ernie, who is pictured here is suffering from pancreatic cancer, and the doctors have not given him a good prognosis. He came to Christ Alive today believing God for a miracle in his own life.
I was touched by the generous response of the audience, and their involvement with worship that to many of them was unfamiliar. They were extremely receptive to the Word of God as it was preached, and to an invitation to join in our Pentecostal worship. All over the room, both men and women were openly crying.
At the conclusion of the very appropriate sermon, Brother Pence invited everyone to the front who needed special prayer. Ernie was the first to leave his seat and head to the pulpit. Here you see him being prayed over.
Please pray for our work here. These people are precious–some of them know God in a measure–others have a very limited knowledge of Him. Jerry and I are desperate to be able to point them to Jesus, the only Saviour.
So, here we are many years later, retired now, someone else the pastor in Lake Havasu City. Both Jerry and I count it the greatest of joys that God called us to do a work for Him among those very dear people.
Three of my four children, along with some of their families, came to our home–Jerry’s and mine–during the Memorial Day Weekend. We had a fabulous time.
On Friday afternoon Andrew and his clan fought such traffic from San Diego that the typical two-hour or so drive took more than four. Rebecca, Nathaniel, Michael, and Melina made it in on Saturday. Jerry had smoked a turkey on Thursday–best turkey I ever tasted–then on Saturday spent most of the day tending his smoker and grill so that when we sat down for our evening meal we were treated to exceptional ribs and juicy steaks. The kids brought food, Jerry tended the grill, and I cooked some things. We feasted.
But the best part was not the steaks, nor–to be honest– the flags, neither the bunting, or the chocolate cake or Bek’s special oatmeal cookies. The best part was time. There was time to reflect and talk about the meaning of the flags and of Memorial Day itself. Our children gave us, and each other, the gift of time. Time to talk, to laugh, to reminisce. Time to speak of plans, of failures, of successes, of God, of our babies growing now into adults, of death of parents and other loved ones . . .of life.
Those who follow my blog know I am an amateur photographer, although pretty serious about it. However, in these family gatherings at my home I get so caught up in other things that I take very few pictures, then later I’m sad at the dearth of images that are mine. Andrew snapped this one of Mike and me a short while before Mike and Melina left . . .
. . .and on the front deck I preserved this image of Andrew and Shauna. Little more.
Time included us piling into cars and plying the roads, streets and lanes of Crestline and its neighbors for the annual Memorial Day Mountain-Wide Garage Sales. We all scored.
This antique game bird collectors plate is Bavarian, and is one of five I bought for the grand price of $3.00. Not each. For all! (Told you we scored.) Along the side of the road as we meandered about was a box with free items in it. I was riding with Gentry when I wondered what it might be.
“Do you want it, Granny?”
Brady jumped out, and popped the box and its contents into the trunk beside our other treasures. Turned out to be a George Foreman large grill with interchangeable plates–about $100.00 new someone said when they checked the internet . . .and so we had waffles from our found treasure. Had waffles on Sunday evening, and they were so delicious we ate such fare again on Monday morning before everyone left.
The highlight of the weekend was Sunday morning when three Buxton families worshipped at a nearby church. As we stood together in the altar area near the end of the service, I was happy for this time, for this Memorial Day weekend. Thankful.
At the lodge by the lake, by myself on Monday morning at 11:00 I attended a service honoring those who have fallen, who have given their lives. Stories wafted through the air, as did films, and other presentations. Veterans marched with guns, flags were posted and presented. Tears glistened in the eyes of a hundred or so people as we watched and as we listened. We stood and sang God Bless America, then the poignant, unmatchable tones of Taps sounded through the room, and the time was over.
I walked a short distance on Lake Gregory shoreline yesterday, and as I rounded a corner near this log, I saw two turtles. One of them eyed me, so I sat down on a likely spot and communed with the critters for 20 minutes or so. They move slowly, do turtles, deliberately and with no appearance of haste. They have time. So did I.
Here in the United States before our trip to Africa I had only briefly met both Pamela and Bishop Ngota Aston, but I certainly came to know them better during those days we stayed on their church compound, and to admire their ambition, their godly ways, and their accomplishments. I salute them today.
If I understand correctly, it was through his burden that he met with Apostolic leaders across Africa, and that in 2014 the Apostolic Union of the World was founded. He became the leader of the organization whose purpose is to facilitate evangelizing Africa with the Apostolic message. The conference we attended was the third such meeting.
His wife is beautiful, hospitable, a great speaker, singer, and musician. She was reared in a very challenging environment, but by the grace of God has risen from its depth to a place of prominence in Africa, and has attained an excellent education.
The compound is impressive. I was stunned to learn that they have only been in that location for seven years. It is completely fenced, boasting numerous structures with a 24-hour guard at the gate. Encompassed in the wide acreage are the sanctuary, the building I have mentioned in which we stayed, school facilities, and a few other out-buildings. Monies from outside Africa have been supplied and appreciated, but I noted in some of their material that one of their goals is less reliance on foreign aid; instead the development of financial independence
Both the impressive grounds and the buildings are kept in pristine condition. Workers were painting just hours before the beginning days of the conference.
I do not have the exact number of persons who attended the conference, but I suspect the final count to have exceeded 500. Most of these were ministers and their families, including some who had traveled as many as four days to arrive there. Several countries were represented. Although the provisions were simple, it astonished me that every delegate was accommodated on the premises. Outhouses were utilized and hundreds slept on mats on the ground. The food was cooked outside a small room on charcoal cookers; the dishes washed nearby with the assistance of a lone faucet. I highly respect my brothers and sisters in Jesus I met those few days in Kenya. Some of them, I was told, do not have enough food, and some are actively persecuted because they are Christians.
I posted the following words on my Facebook account a few days after the conference ended. Those were my sentiments then . . .as they are now.
I am raw. Lying open in the sun raw. The conference in Nairobi has ended. Forever in my ears will ring the words–Africa Must Be Saved–as I recall the hundreds of black people who swayed to the burden of their song, who fell mourning to the floor, who wept over the millions who are lost in the hills, the jungles, the cities of their beautiful continent. ……….I will never forget the mama of this beautiful baby who sat in the dirt long side a muddy road and nursed her darling child beside the table where she sold bananas and watermelons and corn . . .I will never forget leaders who taught their women not to be bitter as they asked God to give them food for their children. . . I am raw. Lying open in the sun raw.
Within each lifetime are portions of challenge. Alongside spiraling days of sunshine made glorious by glowing health and abundant prosperity are chunks of heaviness made dismal by days of inky sorrow and of gloomy prospects. True of everyone. None sidestep the issue. Friends are a cool invention, for wisping along with them, as pleasant as any summer breeze, are bubbly snippets of joy. When they come around, invariably along with them come those magical ingredients that whip up some of the happy, unforgettable days of a well-lived life.
Such a joyful encounter was Jerry’s and mine when our friends Pastor Kris Keyes and his charming wife Lisa of Safford, Az. came a couple of days ago to visit in our home.
Jerry and I planned a fine menu. He cooked ribs and a chicken on his beloved smoker that sets on the back deck and I prepared the rest of the meal. I took pleasure in setting a nice table. I chose red plates, used our finest silverware, and stuck floral napkins through the handle of napkin rings made in the shape of watering pots. Winston hung around our feet
Winston shocked us by his immediate, almost hero-worship-style of attraction to both of our friends when they arrived. (They had circled around a bit too long on our mountain roads, so finally Jerry went down to our 7-11 and led them to our driveway.) That little Shih Tzu adored them. On Thursday morning he lay at the door of the guest room where they were sleeping, and made sweet, whiny noises, occasionally poking his nose into the space where the door meets the floor. Quite unusual behavior for Winston, as in the past he has generally been hesitant to meet new people, and has not been overly friendly to them.
Stormy weather moved in with plunging temperatures, high winds, and pelting rain that snapped against our windows and doors. It was perfect weather for a long and cozy visit with our friends. We ate the high-calorie food Jerry and I had prepared, lingered at the table, and drank barrels of coffee (well, not quite barrels, but big jugs full.) Jerry kept the fireplace roaring. We talked. And talked.
Kris Keyes is the pastor of an Apostolic church in Safford, AZ. and much of our conversation centered around mutual friends and church activities. Politics, grill types, smoking methods, scriptures and their meanings, recipes, books we’ve read, hiking, and snippets of internet gleanings were among the subjects that filled in the spaces. On their computer, they showed us the pictures of their daughter Sarah’s recent wedding.
We moved to the study where Jerry riffled through his grill book so that he could print off a copy of his brining recipe. . . and we began saying our good-byes.
Our society has changed drastically since I was a child; many of the changes are positive ones, making for longer, healthier, more prosperous lives. Some changes , though, fall into the negative heap. One of these is our busyness; bolting through day after seething day, racing to another meeting, grabbing our phones for another can’t-be-missed conversation. Flip open our laptops, for surely people await to read every word that skids through our hot brains, read the news, despair, and occasionally rejoice. Make more money. Buy a newer car, a bigger house, a prettier dress. . .
And seldom do we sit. Sit for long periods. With a friend. With our family. No agenda. No rush. Sit. Talk. Share hearts. (Takes a while to share a heart.) Be quiet. Commune.
Guilty . . .I confess.
During the recent elegant hours Jerry and I spent with these friends I was so touched at one point as we discussed some great spiritual happenings during our lifetimes, Kris looked toward his wife and said, “I want that. I want that for our church.” Such conversations do not evolve quickly, nor through casual talk, nor through hurried, breakneck-speed words.
I have few answers to the dilemma of our frazzled, rushed society, but I do suggest that much peace and restfulness will likely come about when we ask friends into our homes. When we appeal to our families for time. Just time. Days perhaps. When they come and stay awhile, when we talk and listen. We hear. Our hearts pulse together.