I (Nancy) am sitting back at my desk in Cape Town after just having returned from nearly a month in the states. Tom and I planned the trip months ago, but I believe God planned the journey in eternity past. We came to America planning to meet our 8th grandchild and Tom planned to attend some ABWE meetings and participate in a Commission Service for one of our new missionaries. However, God planned for us to celebrate the life of my mother, Juanita Price, and He organized these other events to make a way for us to be there when she passed from this life to her home in heaven on the 7thof September, just days after we arrived in the states. “Thank you, Lord.”
So, if you’ll allow me, this blog is a bit of a raw reflection as I process memories of my mother’s life and how her faith and example have impacted me.
My mother was born in Gallipolis, Ohio in 1933 where she lived with her parents as the youngest of three children on a small farm. She attended a little Baptist church in the country where she came to know Jesus as her Savior and was baptized in the river nearby.
As a teenager, her father died unexpectedly and she and her mother moved to the “big city” of Columbus. After graduating from high school, she married Wayne Price. They raised four daughters, of which I am the youngest, and lived a simple life by faith. My dad worked for nearly 40 years at the GM plant and my mom was a school secretary. We didn’t always have extra, but we always had enough.
As my family gathered around my mom in her final days we spoke about the things we remembered most about mom. Words like servant, giving, faithful, and most of all prayer warrior, were present in almost every conversation.
I think I lived out my role as the “surprise” baby of the family, being a “handful” (her words, not mine!) in just about every way. Eventually I settled down, married my high school sweetheart, Tom, and we lived close to my parents for the first 20 years of our marriage. Tom and I had four daughters of our own, representing half of my parents’ grandchildren, and much to everyone’s surprise, including our own, God called us mid-career to serve Him as missionaries in South Africa. I remember so well the day we told my mom and dad what we believed God wanted us to do. My dad shed tears, of course, he always did! But my mom was sooooo excited! Not the reaction I expected.
After a week or so, I was sure that she just didn’t “get it,” and I remember telling Tom, “I think my mom is in denial. Do you think she understands we are moving halfway around the world and we are taking her grandchildren with us?” And so I went back to my parents’ house to talk to my mom about her exuberant response to this life-changing decision. And this is what she said…
“Nancy, when I was saved as a child I began to pray every day that God would make me a missionary. Then I grew up, got married, and had you four girls and I realized that it wasn’t His plan for me. So I changed my prayers and asked that He would make one of you girls a missionary. When you all got married, had children, and had your lives and careers established I felt like God had answered my prayers by saying no. So the day you came to tell us that God had called you and your family to the mission field, it was the answer to a lifetime of my prayers. How can I be anything less than happy?”
That’s when I realized, my mom got it – so much more than I ever realized. She understood from a very young age that the life of a follower of Christ was to both go and send, whatever the cost. Jesus was always her example.
Jesus willingly left heaven to come to earth and die on the cross to ransom sinners. And in John 17:18, when Jesus prayed to the Father about His disciples He said, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”
Over the years I watched my mom be a light wherever God placed her, including the assisted living home where she lived the last two years of her life. I remember when she’d just moved in and I called to see how she was getting along. I asked if she’d made any friends yet and her response was this, “Yes, I’ve met everyone on my floor and I don’t think any of them are saved, so I’ve called the Pastor’s wife and asked her to help me start a Bible study.” (This at the age of 82!)
As we prepared the video we showed at mom’s celebration of life service, the absence of my own family in the last 18 years of photos was evidence of the sacrifice my mother joyfully made while fulfilling her role as a sender. Her encouraging words and faithful prayers for us will be greatly missed, but her legacy of faithfulness to God and her children will be remembered and will last forever.
My mom’s enthusiasm for her Lord and His mission never failed. And I want to be just like her.