Such is the case with a couple in our church - Sam & Karen Gibbs. I started attending FBC Wentzville in 1983. When I started attending this church Sam & Karen were both members. Sam always taught an adult Sunday school class, and Karen was always involved in the prayer chain ministry. They were both involved in other ministries as well but these 2 activities were like a constant in mathematics - these roles seemed to be fixed.
Sam was an engineer by training and preparation was always important to him. He liked to run transparencies of his lesson material, and the overhead projector was a fixture in his classroom. The material was hashed out verse by verse, and everybody had an opportunity to offer an opinion, make a point, ask a question or initiate a discussion. He was pretty good with his material, but if he ever hit a snag about some issue Karen could generally offer a very lucid comment or point which would clarify everyone's thinking.
I think what impressed me most about these two people was their attitude. Faith was a career; to be practiced one's entire life. With Sam &
Karen one never felt that their ministry was an obligation they did for awhile and then hoped somebody else would take over. Their ministry was genuine and you always sensed that they received a greater blessing for having undertaken it than those that received the fruit of their efforts.
At those times in worship when the pastor asked for a personal testimony about how God might have met a need, provided direction, or given comfort you might hear Sam or Karen share. You listened to their testimony and you had an overwhelming sense that they knew God was sufficient for every situation.
Another neat thing about Sam & Karen is that though both loved life and each other. It wasn't all church; they had activities they did together and which they both enjoyed. They both liked golf, they traveled together, they would sometimes fly to a destination (Sam was a pilot), and they enjoyed each other's company.
Sam worked for McDonnell Douglas Corporation which was purchased by Boeing Corporation and during that early transition, a number of senior employees got forced out of their jobs. Sam was one of those employees that probably retired a little earlier than he expected but he took it in stride and went on with his life. Later those employees received a cash settlement as a result of an age discrimination lawsuit. For Sam that might have provided a little bonus, but it might have been the providence of God that he received an early exit. He got to spend extra time with his wife and grandkids and had some free time he otherwise would not have had. Sam had a congenital heart defect, and in later
life it caused some health complications. He was hospitalized a number of times, but always seemed to rebound but ultimately complication from a surgery produced his death.
When Sam left Boeing he and his wife both worked at a local funeral home part time. It gave him a little extra money for flying, golfing and doing other things he enjoyed. I got to know Sam best from flying. We would sometimes fly together and I am probably a better pilot for flying with Sam. He always had an extensive checklist and was very thorough about every aspect of flying - preflight, weather, radio frequencies, navigation, etc. He also had a genuine enthusiasm which was easy to like. I sensed this with his flying and also of his interest in end time prophecy. He had a good sense of
humor, and shared a story which I consider a classic.
He had signed up to give airplane rides to young kids as part of an Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles program. (a program to get kids interested in aviation). The event was staged at a local airport, but more kids had arrived than was anticipated. He, rather than disappoint the kids, was forced to rent the aircraft for
additional time which needless to say is not cheap. With reference to his funeral home job he remarked to me, " I had to bury a lot of bodies to pay for that flying." I guess flying is even more expensive than I first thought.
Sam's death was hard on Karen but she persevered. It put a big hole in her life because Sam was such a big part of it. That apparently is something that is not easily filled. Karen had her own health issues but overcame breast cancer. In spite of that, she is still active in the church. Karen is still doing the prayer chain and now is working in the church library. In spite of recent events in her life, she has a peace and dignity about her. She can still offer a warm smile and enjoy a hearty laugh. Her confidence in the Lord is unshaken.
One of my favorite recollection of Karen is
of her most forgiving response to my weird sense of humor. On one of the occasions when Sam was hospitalized they thought he could possibly have a brain tumor. They were going to do a scan of his head. I saw her in the hall at church and I asked her about the brain scan on Sam. She replied that they didn't find anything. She got a real look of consternation when a smile started to crease my lips, and then she did a double take. She said, "I should have known with your weird sense of humor that you would laugh when I said the scan of his head found nothing." I confessed I couldn't help it, but then added that I was glad it was not a brain tumor.
As a younger man, you couldn't get me in a church. I did not have a desire to go. Now I know that it is the place that I ought to be. The word of God touches my life, and the people you meet are a blessing as well.
Hebrews 10: 22. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
23. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.