This post is hard for me to write but one I feel is of great importance to relay to each of you. Think for a moment of all the people in your life who have poured into you, discipled you, loved you, encouraged you, and been great cheerleaders as you have journeyed through life. Some of these people may have significantly impacted your life in a relatively short time, while others may have been with you for most of your life.
One such person in my life is Alice Burchfield. She was the organist, until recently, at Benvenue Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, NC where I grew up. I remember Alice in some of my earliest memories at church. She seemed to really take an interest in me when I was a preschooler. I could sit beside her at the organ (not during the service!) and watch her play. I remember a time when she played, Jesus Loves Me for the prelude, and she looked over at me as if to say, “this one’s for you.” Then there were multiple other ways she made an impression on my life as a child–learning Bible verses, mission education, and more. When I was in the eighth grade, our pianist left the church and I was approached to take on the role. Wow, did that stretch me. I had taken piano when I was a child but was no longer taking lessons nor really playing much anymore. I really wasn’t sure I could do it, but someone felt I should take on this role.
Alice was a great encouragement to me. We worked together closely as organist and pianist until I left for college. At times, she directed the choir and I accompanied. Our choir and other musical groups from the church often went places and sang giving me so many additional opportunities. It was a wonderful five years of working together. Little did I know, this was all part of God’s plan for me in preparing me for worship ministry even though it was nowhere on my radar when I left for college.
Fast forwarding to today. Alice has served for 60 years as the organist of Benvenue Baptist Church, giving her talent and time generously all these years. What an example of servanthood! Even when her eyesight began to fail, she was able to enlarge her music so she could continue. She was a constant at the church for 60 years! To God be the glory.
Now, her health is failing. She has been given a very short time to live. I want to let her know how much she has meant to me throughout my life. So today, I will travel to see her and make sure she knows of my appreciation. I will also present her with a certificate from NC Baptists recognizing her long service in the worship and music ministry of Benvenue Baptist Church.
So I ask, “Who is your Alice?” What people have been those influences in your life that you need to go to now and tell them how much you appreciate them?
A few years ago, I was reminded of my R.A. leader (boys missions group) who led my group for a couple of years, Johnny Hinnant. He spent much time discipling us. Our group went camping together, attended RA camp at Camp Caraway together and spent many days in the everglades of Florida primitive camping. All the time, he poured into us spiritual truths and required us to memorize passages of the Bible. He truly loved us and was a great influence on my life during those years with us. As I thought of him a few years ago, I decided I would track him down (he had moved away) and let him know how much I appreciated his influence on my life. When I finally found someone who could help me, I discovered he had died the year before. My heart sank. Why had I not shared this with him years earlier?
There is no day like today. Who is your Alice? Who do you need to thank for the influence on your life?
Make a list now and make plans to reach out. Don’t assume that you’ll be able to make that connection later. You’ll be glad you did!
I’m making my list, too.