This past month has been a time for saying some sad farewells to friends and family who have departed this earth. Heaven has become a sweeter destination as we look forward to the reunion we will have with our fellow Christians.
The first of these recent departures from earth (on July 29th) was former County Judge Mike Perry, an enjoyable individual who was always ready with a joke. Mike liked to tell people that when he first laid eyes on June, who was out of the hippie movement (and still dressed like one), he told Betty, his wife, “Now, if there was ever anybody there was no hope for, there he is.” How thankful we are that God is in the business of changing folks for the better, and Mike readily acknowledged God’s greatness when it came to Bro. June.
August began with the physical death of a member of our Board of Directors, Bill Stevens. We will miss his laid-back humor and wise counsel during Board meetings. Bill did not want a funeral service when he died. He wanted there to be an ice cream supper at the church to celebrate his going home. Ice cream is one of my favorite things on earth but to be where he is now is superior by far.
On the 15th of August a former Board member, Jack Lee, followed Bill into Heaven. For many years (until he moved away), Jack had taught a weekly Bible study at GODTEL when we were still downtown. He and our former mission director, Royce Oliver, were dear friends. Royce told me that prior to his death Jack had been in a coma for a couple of days and gradually drifted out and in of the coma. Anytime he began to rouse up out of it, he would sing, “Victory in Jesus”.
Then, on the 17th, we got the news that June’s Aunt Katy, out in California, who had been ill for several years with a brain tumor, had died. Katy was kind, caring, and fun to be around. She did not want a funeral service following her cremation (and, sadly, no ice cream supper) so all we can do is pray for our family members, some of whom were very close to her.
Our favorite memory of Aunt Katy was on one of our visits to California (25 or 30 years ago). She and Uncle Virgil took us out to eat at a fancy restaurant. Just before exiting the car, Katy (knowing our devout Christian lifestyle) turned to us and said, “Now, we have cocktails before we eat.” Before I even had time to think about it, I replied, “That’s okay, we pray before we eat.” We all laughed and went into the restaurant. The salad course came and as Uncle Virgil reached for his fork, Aunt Katy put her hand on his and they paused for June to thank God for the food.
There are many ways to pass away. These four deaths came by stroke/aneurysm, accident, heart attack, and brain tumor. No matter how death may come, it is certain that it will come. That is, unless Jesus comes first. Either way, we need to be sure we are ready to meet our Maker.
Speaking of the return of Christ, Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Feast of Trumpets, will be celebrated this year on September 30 and October 1. We believe when Jesus does come back, it will be at some point during this two-day feast. If you wonder why we believe this, call and we can talk about it.
Alaska Airlines, Flight 350 from Tacoma, WA to Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport, arriving Thursday, August 1st at 6:35 p.m. brought our daughter, Joann, and her almost-ten-year-old son, Isaac, and daughter, Annalee, who has long curly red hair and is enrolled in Kindergarten for the coming year. Bro. June and I made the trip to the airport to pick them up (but please don’t ask us to talk about our airport experience). They were “on loan” to us for a week, for which we thanked Zach who had way too much to do to make the trip at this time of year (he is a school administrator).
Joann blessed the residents at each of GODTEL’s three missions playing the piano and singing Gospel songs at our Sunday services in Livingston and Nacogdoches and on Wednesday evening in Lufkin. She is very talented, even if I do say so myself. I can still hear the refrain of one of the songs, “Take the world, but give me Jesus.” (This reminds me of a note hanging near my desk which reads, “If you have Jesus, you have everything.”) Also, “What does it profit a man to gain the world…?
During this busy, delightful visit we toured the Old Stone Fort Museum in Nacogdoches, The Museum of East Texas, the Forestry Museum, and the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin (and, yes, we rode the train). There were also games of “Go Fish,” puzzles to put together, “Clothespin Tag” and Legos.
On Thursday, August 8th (which just happened to be Bro. June’s 72nd birthday), it was back to the airport following a delicious seafood meal where we briefly visited with June’s brother, Eli, and our son, Jeremiah.
The airport experience was much more pleasant as we dropped them off, gave hugs all around, and headed for home. We were back in Livingston before they boarded their plane. They landed at the SeaTac Airport just one hour and forty minutes before Isaac’s birthday on the 9th, which he was greatly looking forward to celebrating.
Our house is full of fresh wonderful memories but, oh, so quiet.
Gospel Music Reminder
Bro. June and the Gentry Family have recorded 10 Gospel Music CDs. You can find a listing of them on our web site (www.godtel.org) by clicking on Productions. At that location you will also find a list of Christian books and literature by various authors including Manley Beasley.
A Word About the Finances
Though we do not often mention finances, we are very grateful for those who faithfully support the ministry to the poor at GODTEL. Even in times like now, when the bank account balances seem dangerously low, we trust God to supply just what we need when we need it. He will.
We are very thankful for each person who shares with us their time, energy, material and/or monetary resources and we pray for God to bless you abundantly.