Friday, August 13, 2010

Journey of Faith Friday: Influence- Three people from childhood


Growing up in a small town meant I attended a small church. My church was rather large compared to many of the churches in our area, but it still only had about 200 members (give or take a few).  Despite my rebellious high school years God was using people in my home church to influence my walk with Him.  I didn't know it at the time, but later realized that several of the people I watched on a weekly basis influenced my life for Jesus Christ.  Several names come to mind, but today I will focus on three elder members of Community United Methodist Church.

Francis Cooley
Bill Booth
Vincel Cooley

Francis was a beautiful, sweet, short, grey haired lady that always had a smile on her face.  I shouldn't say always, since I only saw her once to twice a week, but, in my eyes, she was a beautiful example of JOY!  Francis always hugged me.  She was a prayer warrior that was often called upon by our pastor to lead the closing prayer or to lay hands on those kneeling at the alter.  She would often kneel at the alter herself asking for prayer, as she battled severe pain from arthritis.  She loved her grandchildren and it was obvious as many of them accompanied she and her husband to church.  Each month (or maybe quarter) she would hand out "The Daily Bread" devotional to anyone wanting one.  She was such a blessing to me and still is.  Each time I go home and walk through the doors of Community United Methodist Church there is Francis with a smile on her face and arms open wide.  She embraces me and says, "I love you!"

Bill was a tall (like almost 7 feet) man with a deep voice and a gentle smile.  He always had something encouraging to say to me.  He always sought me out.  He would bend down hug me and say, "I love you."  He knew the Word and loved Jesus.  I rarely see Bill when I am home due to his own struggle with illness, but I think of him often.  Just before moving to Florida, I randomly ran into Bill.  He was still that tall, gentle man who bent down to hug me and say he loved me.

Vincel was known as our church "Candy Man."  He always had a pocket full of life savers, gum, peppermint, etc.  He would walk around before church began and offer each person a piece of candy, a smile, and often a "God loves you."  Vincel's presence was enough.  He rarely missed church, but when he did I would miss him.  He loved children and youth.  I will never forget his support when I was raising money to go on my first mission trip to Haiti.  At a board meeting he encouraged the church to fully fund any remaining expense I had that might prevent me from embarking on the life changing experience.  Vincel is now with our sweet Savior.  I wonder if he is handing out candy in Heaven?

I didn't/don't know the intimate details of any of the lives above, but I do know they were consistent, faithful servants of the body of Christ which is something God calls us to (1 Cor. 12: 7-31).  As a young girl with little understanding of what walking with Jesus looked like I believe God placed these people in my path to show me a little piece Himself beyond the cross.  I knew the cross.  I knew Jesus died for me.  I knew I needed a Savior, because of the sin in my life.  I knew about the resurrection, but I didn't know that the resurrection brought life.  It brought hope to the hopeless.  It brought JOY.  It brought encourgement.  It brought humility to a new level.  I learned a lot about the resurrected Christ through Francis, Bill, and Vincel and am forever thankful for their consistentcy and faithfulness over the years. 
Who or what has influenced your faith journey?
Would you share it with us today?

If you'd like to share... enter the direct URL to your exact post in the link tool below
(just under "you are next").
You can link up any time through next Friday.

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I look forward to reading how your faith journey has been influenced
by someone or something along the way.

Thank you for sharing.

Next Friday: We will finish our three part series. Plan to share how someone has influenced your walk with the LORD Jesus. It may have been the words of a mentor. It may have been a sermon preached by your pastor or spoken at a weekend retreat. It may have been words on pages written by an author you've never met. It may have been the silent embrace of a friend. It may have been a life lived that you only watched from a far. It may have been your small group.

Have a blessed day in the Lord Jesus!!

Amber's Articles


Carolina said...

Thanks for sharing Amber! That is neat that you remember so many specific details about these people from so long ago. I think that often when I've been influenced by others, they have no idea they're doing so. Kind of like they've planting a seed, but don't get to see the crop right away? But they were certainly a part of the planting.

Will be linking mine up soon- just finishing up a couple of things!

Sandy said...

Great article, Amber. Reading it made me think of a number of older people who consistently modeled contentment, joy, and humble service in my small free methodist church through most of my school years. I felt the same kind of love and support from them that you mention from your "balcony people".

I have really struggled to gather thoughts and snag time to write these weeks and will likely miss the next 2 weeks also, but I hope to come back later and post on this subject and link to yours. These assignments are really making me think - in a good way- and I look forward to your posts - as well as those of Carolina and the other women participating.

EM said...

thanks for the opportunity to link up, and to share the redemption of my days on this journey of faith. Someone is always watching. Sobering, but also thrilling when we discover the positive of our influence. This woman actually had a profound impact on my faith by simply approaching me and revealing her thoughts with me. It thrust me into joy and strengthened my faith tremendously at a time I felt very vulnerable.
Blessings, eleanor