by Nancy Baxley
This testimony was shared with the beloved community of First Baptist on Fifth on November 5, 2023 as part of our “Attending Church” focus on what it means to tend – or “attend” – the life of our church.
Good Morning! There is not a time that I’m in this beautiful sanctuary that I don’t give thanks to the Saints who have gone before us and meant so much to our church and to me while they were here. There are many members of our church I could tell you more about: Mitzi Moore, who taught me to save my nickels and dimes that I get in the mail and give them to Missions; Egbert Davis, who while staying overnight at the homeless shelter in the 90’s, said, “but for the grace of God, I could be that guy”; or Wava Howard, who, one Easter Sunday was seen in her white suit sweeping our church’s front steps because she didn’t want her beloved church to look “untidy” on Easter.
But, I want to tell you a story about 3 women, all of whom, through their actions, prayers and great love for God and for our church, made a difference in my life and the life of our church family.
In 2001, I was in a prayer group with Skip Boyles, Rhada Beddingfield and Ellen Tabor. Skip was a military nurse, Rhada was a teacher and Ellen and her husband, Charles, spent a large part of their lives as SBC missionaries in Korea. These were 3 women with “grit”. Skip invited me to her home and to this prayer group. At that time, I was taking care of our first granddaughter, Hannah, and I told Skip that I would love to be a part of that prayer group, but I would have to bring Hannah with me. She said,” bring her on ~ she can pray with us.” Hannah was not yet a year old! From these dear Saints I learned how to “attend.”
Church, it didn’t mean just coming, but it meant really loving it and tending to it as you would a vital member of your family. Pretty much, what the church needed, you did. If folks needed visiting, you visited; when prayer was needed, you prayed, when an opportunity to serve as a Sunday School teacher, you taught ~ if you didn’t know what to do, you learned from someone who did. I even learned from them to find Joy in being on committees, because it was through committees, one learned to know, love and respect their fellow church members.These women were some of the best examples of loving like Jesus loves that I have ever known.
Through these women and this prayer group, I learned not just to serve where I could, but also to give financially as generously as we could. We give, not to just keep the lights on but, to show the love of Jesus in the best ways we can. Rhada Beddingfield left the church a generous gift in her will ~ one that shows the love of Jesus every day in many ways. The funds her gift generated were to be used for benevolence. During the pandemic, money from the interest on this fund was used to help both members of our church and our community through the hard times they were experiencing. The fund has also helped literally hundreds of women and students participating in services offered at the Winston-Salem Center for Education and the Arts along with many other ways of which I have no knowledge.
For these three women and for other Saints who have gone before us, I say Thanks Be to God.