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Silent saints of the church


Preachers’ wives are the silent saints of the church. Nell Grace Doverspike was such a woman who supported her husband’s ministry for more than 55 years before she joined him in Heaven on June 27. She was 81.

I spend much of my day in prayer yet I did not learn about prayer from my father – the minister – so much as I learned about it from my mother, the missionary.

She had gone to college to study to become a missionary, yet by the time of her graduation she had literally sacrificed her whole career plan so that she could support the ministry of another and so that she could have children. It is ironic that in doing so, in sacrificing her own life for the lives of others, she created a mission field of her own.

Nell Doverspike was a simple woman. She was also the most self-sacrificial person I have ever known. It is a testament to her faith that by her example she raised her six children to devote their lives to serving others. It is an even greater legacy to her faith that she has 12 grandchildren, several of whom have become the next generation of missionaries. As she often reminded us, “God is not done with you yet.”

I had heard my father’s booming voice of prayer from the church pulpit every Sunday morning and at the dinner table each evening, but it was in the quiet hours of the night that I heard our mother’s loving prayers beside each of her children’s bedsides.

It always seemed a bit peculiar to me that although my father was the theologian in the family, it was my mother who taught me the most about God. I remember struggling through an atheistic semester in college when a silent vision of my mother slowly guided me back toward God.

It was not anything that she said, but simply a silent image of her getting up an hour before sunrise so that she could cook my breakfast before my paper route, or before morning athletic practice, or before I went to the hospital to begin work before dawn. It was not anything that she said, but simply the silent image of her praying at our bedsides each night.

If she had been praying to nothing at all, then what strange force could have been so powerful to motivate the unconditional and unending love that I saw in her each day? It was a love that she lived each day.

Sometimes I wonder, do I live my life in a way that reflects God’s love to others?