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Monday, June 13, 2011

Flowers on bank along Colebrook Road Lancaster County PA
A faithful silent but powerful witness
See body of today's message for story

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"A Tribute To Naomi"

"Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did" (Acts 9:36).

Yesterday we commemorated Pentecost Sunday, a very significant day on the church calendar, that many consider the birth of the Church. It’s easy to recall prominent spokesmen for the Church throughout the ages beginning with Peter, who proclaimed God's Word on the Day of Pentecost. Other historical, prominent names in the Church like Martin Luther, John Wesley, Billy Sunday and others right up to our own day such as Billy Graham come to mind easily. These well-known leaders have faithfully served and received commendation but there are many, many others far less prominent who have greatly impacted lives with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In fact we contend that the vast majority of work done for Christ and His Kingdom has taken place and is now taking place by those who are unknown apart from the relatively small circle in which they serve, generally in a local church.

Welcome sign to NaomiToday we honor a woman by the name of Naomi Wolgemuth, who will soon celebrate her 88th birthday. Confined to a nursing home for nearly five years, Naomi continues to testify of her steadfast faith in Christ.

On Saturday night the ladies in our church honored her at a Women & Girls Banquet. Brooksyne plotted with her nephew to arrange a trip to her home church which is about 40 miles from Messiah Village where she now resides. It was the first time she would return to her home church since the disabling stroke in August 2006 which necessitated her need for nursing home care.

The staff informed Naomi on Friday night that her nephew would pick her up on Saturday and take her to a surprise destination. Over the banquet meal she told Brooksyne that she could hardly sleep the night before trying to guess where she would be going. It didn’t enter her mind that it would be her home church which she had attended since the first week of her birth up until the time of her stroke.

Naomi with BrooksyneNaomi never married and lived in very same house in which she was born until her move to Messiah Village. She was a first grade schoolteacher for many years and impacted numerous lives in that role all throughout the area. But we especially honored her for her faithful service to her home church.

Many in our small community came out especially to see Naomi and express their love to her. She was active in a variety of ways including, of course, teaching children. One mother had a special recollection of visits Naomi made to their home to visit the children who were Naomi’s Sunday School students. It was not uncommon to see hear her reviewing the Sunday School verses with her students as she sat with them in their sandbox!

Naomi's most distinctive community witness could be viewed from a bank in front of her home that faced Colebrook Road, a heavily travelled rural road here in Lancaster County. Beginning in 1950 she and her mother planted flowers on the bank, arranging them in such a way that they spelled a word or phrase. This practice continued fifty consecutive years with a brand new theme every year! Many in our area recall the colorful bank with a message of witness to the Lord. Generally they arranged marigolds to spell the words and white sweet alyssums served as a light contrasting background.

Following the banquet, as Jan and his wife Dorine were buckling Naomi in the front seat of the car, she shook her head in disbelief as she said several times, “I just can’t believe this. I just can’t believe it…” We didn’t have to ask, “Did you have a good time?” Her voluntary response to the evening said it all!

DorcasThe early church had people like Naomi though we know the names of very few. One noteable exception is Tabitha more commonly known by her Greek name, Dorcas. An active part of the faith community in Joppa, she was characterized as a "woman who was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did." In verse 39 we read that she was a seamstress and blessed others by the garments she sewed for them.

You and I can think of those whose lives are characterized by their continuous kind and charitable acts in our own lives.

Each of us knows people like Naomi regardless of where we live. There are many in the church like her. Little known and sadly, in too many cases receiving little acclamation or appreciation. But they are really the backbone of the church!

Be sure to let them know of their great value to you personally and to the church as they give of themselves heartily unto the Lord.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, keep our hearts open to those who are in need of a compassionate touch, a charitable act, or a kind word. Let it come naturally from our hearts that are in tune with the heart of Jesus. May I view others through the eyes of Christ, walking in His compassion and His benevolent ways. We thank you for the scores of people like Dorcas and Naomi who have served you in local churches all through the church age.  I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Some more photos from our banquet

Naomi Wolgemuth with Brooksyne and Wilma
Naomi is greeted by her present pastor's wife, Brooksyne, and Wilma
who was her pastor's wife some 40 years ago.

Dourte sisters
The Dourte sisters sang several songs for the banquet and had incredibly tight harmony as they sang three of the numbers acappella.

Naomi Wolgemuth playing harmonica
Naomi played the harmonica for us all.  Brooksyne made sure Jan, Naomi's nephew, brought the harmony just in case we could get her to play, and we did!"

Naomi with Dawn
Many greeted Naomi following the meeting expressing their love and appreciation to her.

Servers at Women's banquet 2011
The men prepared and served the meal and worked very hard. They even cleaned up afterwards! The main dish was Gene Wenger's famous ham loaf, a Lancaster County favorite.

In regard to today's message we recommend this book by storyteller Jerry Jenkins. It deeply touched us both when we read it several years ago. It has a surprising and powerful ending that made us both cry!  The meeting honoring Naomi Wolgemuth made us think of this book.

Though None Go with MeThough None Go with Me  By Jerry B. Jenkins / Zondervan   From master storyteller Jenkins comes the moving chronicle of one woman's unswerving obedience to God. Born in 1900, Elisabeth LeRoy commits her life to Christ. But her heartfelt decision is tested by two world wars, the Great Depression, and personal sorrow. A remarkable act of faith and grace performed on the stage of history. 304 pages, softcover from Zondervan

One woman's costly decision will touch a lifetime of hearts. Born at the turn of the century, Elisabeth Grace LeRoy longs for something more in her life. Something only an eternal love can offer. It is a love she encounters at last---one that promises to fill her passionate heart completely and that calls forth her utmost in return. In response, Elisabeth makes the commitment that will shape her entire life: a decision to follow Christ always, no matter the cost. So begins a remarkable love story---a legacy of faith that weaves together two world wars, the Great Depression, and deep personal sorrows as the dramatic background for displaying the courage, grace, joy, and far-reaching impact of a life lived truly and fully for God.

Also available as an ebook: 
Though None Go with Me: A Novel - eBook

And as an audiobook download:
Though None Go with Me: A Novel Audiobook [Download]

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Little Is Much When God Is In It"  Video  from the Gaither Homecoming series featuring Larry Ford.  This is our favorite version of this song!  What an outstanding reminder for all who, like Dorcas and Naomi faithfully serve Christ.

Finally today:
This morning we went to our local hardware store and I ran into John, a Pioneer seed salesman, I met a number of years ago when I was in a local service club. As we visited for a few minutes I told him about our present work in Mastersonville and he was familair with the church. I shared how we had honored Naomi and he enthusiastically recalled both Naomi and her Colebrook Road flower designs!

Study note:
Apart from the miracle associated with her Dorcas would probably have never have been mentioned in Scripture and thus would not have been known through history, but only during her lifetime for her service to the church in Joppa.  See Acts 9:36-43

There have been a lot of people like Naomi and Everett through the church's history!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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