“The righteous shall FLOURISH like a palm tree…Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall FLOURISH in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and FLOURISHING.” (Psalm 92:12-15)
I’m very grateful that I had a perfect example this reality, of an elderly woman who had an ongoing, uninterrupted walk with the Lord and as a result, bore MUCH FRUIT and FLOURISHED in her old age. She was my mom and she had a unique, special ministry. Here’s part of that story:
As newlyweds living in Argentina, my husband Jorge and I were part of a team of 3 couples who were planting a church in a new town. As part of our ministry, we went door-to-door with tracts and the Gospel message, and visited the people who showed interest in hearing it. I can still remember the day that we visited Rosa Cornejo and her husband in their home. Like nearly all the people we worked with, they were extremely poor. When we invited them to church, Rosa said she didn’t have decent clothes. Looking around at their living conditions, I truly believed her. Dirt floors. One lonely lightbulb hanging from the bare rafters. Sparce furnishings…So I wrote (snail mail…we’re looking at the 70’s here…) a letter home to Mom asking if she had a dress in her closet that she could spare, and maybe send it down for Rosa, so she could attend services.
That request was the beginning of a ministry that my Mom, who was 62 or 63 at the time, dedicated the next 30 years of her life to. Having traveled extensively in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay with Dad, she saw the poverty and having received that request, felt God prompting her to do something. She started to send boxes of good used clothing to pastors, missionaries, church leaders that she knew and loved, and the orphanages she had visited. Dad cleaned out the basement, put in fluorescent lighting, long tables, a packaging area, and Mom went to work! She had dozens of boxes that she used to sort the clothes by men’s, women’s, children’s, and by size. She had a very detailed mailing list with every pastor, missionary and church leader, along with their sizes, the sizes of every one of their family members, and details only she understood! Our family was one of countless families that dressed from her boxes for years, and we are thankful for that!
When family, neighbors and friends found out about her ministry, they started dropping off bags and bags (big, black garbage bag size) of their used clothing. Their walk-in basement door was never locked, so it wasn’t strange for people to walk in and leave their clothes any time. She set up a bank account for her ministry and churches often sent special offerings to pay for the shipping. A special friend arranged for her to have a never-ending supply of boxes to put together and strapping tape. She washed and mended the clothing, sending only the best. She packed and shipped hundreds of boxes per year, (over 300 per year the last years of her ministry) often hauling 25-35 of them to the PO by herself. When she couldn’t lift and carry any more, God always sent someone to visit her who she “volunteered” to take her and the boxes to the PO. So she continued till she was 93 years old. That’s when we had to tell people not to bring her anymore clothing, because physically she could not handle it. The last two years of her life, Mom had Alzheimer’s. She didn’t recognize her own children and grandchildren anymore. She didn’t know whose home she was in, even though it was her own for over 60 years. In spite of the confusion and mental haze that she suffered, Mom would still say “I’ve got to get downstairs and take those boxes to the PO. They’re ready to go…” She was 95 years old, and FLOURISHING!!
Mom walked close with the Lord. Even in the days before she passed away, she often read her worn Bible with a page-sized magnifying glass. Because she loved Him, she FLOURISHED, blessing countless lives. She was a living example of a godly woman, FLOURISHING like a palm tree, bearing fruit even in old age. That’s how I want to be! How about you?