By Teena Myers
Betty found salvation in a Baptist church sitting at her grandmother’s feet. She had an active home missions work when her pastor received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and changed his doctrine. Much to Betty’s dismay, many in the congregation joined the pastor in this new experience.
“I was the last one to receive the baptism in the Spirit and speak with other tongues, because I was too busy trying to prove they were wrong,” said Betty.
When Baptist authorities learned of the church’s departure from their acceptable doctrine, they asked the wayward members to leave. Betty and her friends tried to join the Pentecostals. The women in their disenfranchised congregation wore makeup, and the Pentecostals didn’t want them either. Without a home to call its own, the group quickly flourished into an independent church. During this time, Betty became an ordained minister and traveled extensively, preaching the Word of God.
Betty thought the opportunity for missionary work had passed when she entered her fifties. The door unexpectantly opened for her to preach the gospel in Japan when she turned sixty. She loved her ministry in Japan, but learned her mother was in poor health and returned to America to care for her.
After Betty’s mother went home to be with the Lord, she moved to a retirement complex and joined a church near the apartments. She sought to resume her ministry work, but the church did not have a place of service for her. While Betty visited with her friends Bernice and Pauline, the subject of a Bible study to meet the needs of the residents arose. Without knowledge of Betty’s background in ministry, Bernice and Pauline decided Betty should teach.
They initially met in the foyer near Betty’s apartment. Pauline left to live with family shortly after the study began. Betty and Bernice continued the work, which quickly outgrew the tiny foyer, so the small congregation moved to the community room.
“Many of the residents led productive lives before entering the retirement apartments and wrestle with depression as they adjusted to a new way of life,” said Betty. In addition to teaching, Betty and Bernice cared for their flock by visiting them when they were ill.
Betty and Bernice reminded me of Moses and Aaron, who found the fulfillment of their calling in their eighties. No one can accuse God of age discrimination. Whether we are eight or eighty-eight, he has a place of service for everyone with a willing heart.
Teena Myers is the Chairman for Southern Christian Writers. These stories were shared with her by Christians who live in the New Orleans area.