Honoring a Godly Heritage

In loving memory
Willie Eva Jenkins
January 16, 1918 - May 22, 2014

Since I can remember, she couldn't have weighed more than 110 pounds soaking wet. She was quiet, yet spunky. She was unassuming, yet determined. She married at 15, gave birth to seven children, was widowed in her late 40s, and never remarried. She was grandmother to 17 and great-grandmother to 25. My most vivid memory, however, is that she served the Lord with her whole life. She was a member of Sylvester Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, for over 70 years. My earliest church memories are of her and her church. She served on the missionary board, the choir, and the usher board. She visited the sick, held babies, served meals, sang songs, prayed for others, spoke on special programs when asked, and (occasionally) sewed for others.

Recently, as I shared a reflection of her 96th birthday celebration and a separate church ceremony honoring her as the oldest church member, a Pastor friend of mine commented on the incredible spiritual heritage God has given me. Godly Heritage. It is the greatest legacy she could leave her family.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Tim 4:7-8)

She fought the good fight. She finished her race. As far as I can tell, she kept the faith.... Today, I celebrate her as my grandmother (muh-dear) and the Matriarch of our family. Her life wasn't always easy, but she was surrounded by people who loved and cherished her. She consistently poured out of her life into the lives of others.  She was the embodiment of strength, determination, and perseverance.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:10-12)

On the morning of May 22, 2014 (at 96 years young), she went to sleep in this temporal realm and awoke in the presence of God in eternity. It seems appropriate to me that on Memorial Day--when we remember those who died in active military service--that we remember as well, Willie Eva Jenkins and other saints like her. They are saints who lived their lives on spiritual active duty--engaging in unseen warfare and battling spiritual enemies in the heavenly realm. They often go unnoticed because their gifts, skills and abilities may not be flashy or obvious. The greatest legacy they offer us, however, is the model of a life of faith well-lived, a heart committed to serving and a long obedience in the same direction.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1-2)

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
Stay close to Him, Vita