A Voice from Long Ago
By Jewell Johnson
When my husband retired after 42 years as a minister, a time of adjustment followed. As LeRoy reflected on his years in ministry, he began to second-guess all the time he had spent working for God. Did I do any good? he asked himself. Is there any lasting fruit from those years? Did I help even one person?
As LeRoy talked on the phone, I realized this was a voice from the past: Linda Moore. We had first become acquainted with Linda when she was a 5-year-old. LeRoy and I, recently married, were planting a church in the hills of southern Missouri. In an effort to contact nonchurched families, we combed the countryside, calling on every farm family in the area. One day we stopped our car on the top of a grassy knoll where several children were playing in the yard. With a baby on her hip, and a toddler clinging to her skirt, Mrs. Moore answered our knock.
“We’re starting a new church in town,” LeRoy explained. “We’d be happy to pick up your children for Sunday school.”
“That sounds good to me,” Mrs. Moore said.
Every Sunday for five years, LeRoy drove the six miles to the farm on the grassy knoll, packed the five Moore kids into the backseat, and brought them to the storefront church. Linda, with other children, sat around tables in a back room and listened to stories about Jesus.
Each summer we held an all-day Vacation Bible School for a week. Linda, with her brothers and sisters, faithfully attended. The children memorized Bible verses and sang Scripture choruses and heard Bible stories.
As the two talked on the phone that day, LeRoy discovered Linda had married, moved to California, and raised a family. “I want to thank you for taking us to church,” she told him. “I’ve never stopped going.” Now she worked as a volunteer in a church office where she had access to ministers’ phone numbers.
Did Linda understand what the call meant to her former pastor? Probably not, but no doubt she recognized the voice she had first heard as a child and called to thank the person who had helped her begin a walk with God—a marvelous walk that had spanned more than 50 years. She couldn’t have chosen a better time to call.
Jewell Johnson and her husband, LeRoy, have six children and nine grandchildren.