The popularity of websites like 23andme and ancestry.com attest to how eager many of us are to know the history of our grandparents’ grandparents. In discovering where we come from, we hope to understand ourselves a bit better. I’ve spoken to many people who are filled with pride to find that a distant twice removed cousin was a congressman or even royalty from a distant country. I understand what they feel. My spiritual ancestry traces back to a saint who changed the lives of my entire family, and thoughts of her fill me with pride and admiration.
I come from a blended family of sorts. My father had a daughter and my mother had two children from previous marriages when they found each other and married. My Dad, Mom, and her two kids built and moved into a small house on Settawig Road in Brasstown, NC, and began the hard work of becoming a family. It wasn’t long before a knock on the door changed things for that newly formed family and impacted the course of my life years before my birth.
It was Betty Myers at the door that fall afternoon. She lived down the road on a dairy farm, her children grown. She passed by our house, she explained, on her way to church on Sundays and Wednesdays. She offered to pick up my brother and sister on her way. Being new to the area it would be a great way for them to meet people and make friends. My mother and father agreed. Just like that, a new world had been opened to us.
By the time I was born, Little Brasstown Baptist Church had become our home. It was where I made my earliest friends. I sat in tiny wooden chairs while Ms. Henrietta and Ms. Christine taught Sunday School. I listen to sermons and sang songs, and eventually decided to commit my life to being a Jesus follower. My mother’s faith blossomed at Little Brasstown, and my older brother would one day become a pastor. I have been blessed to work in a variety of ministries with youth, in counseling settings, and now as a pastor. I trace all of that back to a small church in a smaller town and to a simple farmer who cared enough to knock on our door. If caring for the “least of these” equates to caring for Jesus, then Betty Myers has cared more for Jesus that almost anyone I have ever met.
When I heard of Betty’s death, I encountered many emotions. I am grateful to have been loved by this amazing woman and am grateful for her unrelenting pursuit of God. At the same time I feel a bit ashamed that I never took the time to sit down and tell her face to face all that her faithfulness has meant to me.
In my memory, Betty will be forever sitting at the piano, a gentle, ever-patient, smile on her face as her husband Ralph leads the choir, one hand gripping a faded brown hymnal, the other hand waving back and forth keeping time. If there are choirs in heaven, she has no doubt joined. One-third of the Brasstown Trio singing new songs of love and joy to God. I imagine there are countless people gathered close around her, eager to rub shoulders with the woman who introduced them to their Savior. If I could talk with Betty I would be tempted to say, “rest in peace”, but I know that farmers rarely rest, so I’ll just say “enjoy”. Enjoy all of the sights and sounds of heaven Betty and thank you for the heaven you brought into my life and the lives of so many others.