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Rest in peace, Beverly Winful

May 23, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Posted in: Death

“While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ He replied to him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50)

I first met Beverly Winful in the summer of 1996. I had been hired by South United Methodist Church in Manchester to be their Summer Youth Director, and that July I was taking six junior high students to Camp Aldersgate in North Scituate, Rhode Island. All of the youth leaders and teens had climbed into the 15 passenger van when all of a sudden a woman I did not know climbed into the van. She announced to me that she was Carl’s mother, and that she would be coming on the trip too. As a 20 year-old, newly hired youth director, I didn’t think it was my place to object.

I ended up spending two summers working with the youth group at South United Methodist. When I was hired as the Youth Pastor at NewLife in 1998, Beverly’s son Carl began to attend the NewLife youth group. Over the years, we grew closer. Carl played congas on the worship team I led at NewLife. I taught Carl how to drive. Carl was a groomsman in my wedding. And I eventually officiated Carl’s wedding. And when I returned to NewLife as a senior pastor, Carl and Beverly became regulars at our family’s Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving dinners.

Beverly passed away on Tuesday, May 23rd, after a four year battle with cancer. I thank God that she is with Jesus now, where there is no more suffering or pain. And I mourn for Carl as he faces life without his mother, who from the day she announced that she was joining us on our trip to Camp Aldersgate has always been a looming presence over Carl’s life.

But most importantly, I remember the words of Jesus, that family is more than those who are related by flesh and blood. The family of God consists of all who do the will of God. Over the past 20 years, Carl and Beverly have become part of our family, and I am grateful for the opportunity we had to know Beverly and to share life with her.

No matter what kind of family you come from, in Christ you are surrounded by a large spiritual family from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Take the opportunity to welcome some of these brothers and sisters into your home and into your life, that you might be blessed by the love and experience they have to share with you.

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