On my journey of 44 years as a pastor and district superintendent, I have observed many amazing stories of God's grace. I estimate that I have had in my care more than 20,000 of God's people from Washington to Illinois to Oklahoma.
In my mind I have been making a 'top 10 list of lay people,' and there is a couple in the Northwest on that list. John drove a milk route and worked long hours, but he and his wife, Orlene, found time and energy to maintain the church facilities, call on the sick and homebound people, and make a bold lead pledge in the congregation's capital campaign to build a new church. One Thanksgiving Day morning, I brought my wife home from the hospital to recuperate from a major surgery, and we found John and Orlene waiting for us with dinner for our family. We never forgot this moving love gift.
When the Apostle Paul was making his list of lay heroes in the early church, he wrote to the Romans, "Greet Aquila and Priscilla, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles" (Romans 16:3-4, NASB).
A few months ago I went by the assisted living facility to visit with these Nazarene Legacy Partners and was moved to tears as I saw how John tenderly cared for his wife in the late stages of Alzheimer's. Orlene died a few weeks later. Soon after this, at 95 years old, her beloved husband was playing his violin for some seniors.
John was concluding the last chorus of "To God Be the Glory" where the lyrics state: "come to the Father, through Jesus the Son," and this dear saint slumped over with a heart attack and died. One of his caregivers who often tried to keep up with him on his afternoon walk said, "This was his good-bye party."
Through its Charitable Trust and Charitable Gift Annuities, the Church of the Nazarene Foundation was privileged to make a significant distribution to the local church John and Orlene attended as well as to other Nazarene ministries God had laid on their hearts.
We can celebrate the compelling legacy of thousands of heroes who have bid us farewell and blessed us by their inspiring living, their Christlike service, and their amazing generosity.
To find out more about the many planned giving services the Foundation offers and how to leave a legacy gift to the ministries you love, contact the Church of the Nazarene Foundation on the Web or by calling toll-free 866-273-2549.
Mel McCullough is president of the Church of the Nazarene Foundation.
Holiness Today, Mar/Apr 2009