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The Open Door

 

Eddy Oliver

Georgia Baptist Convention Executive Director J. Robert White, right, speaks with longtime and now retired GBC employee Waldo Woodcock, who founded GBAMA 40 years ago.

A little over a week ago I had the privilege of speaking at the 40th anniversary of GBAMA. This group is the Georgia Baptist Association of Ministry Assistants. They came from all across Georgia for this wonderful event held on St. Simons Island, Georgia. I spoke at the banquet that took place at First Baptist St. Simons Island. John Burnett prepared a low country boil, and everyone ate their fill of shrimp, sausage, and potatoes.

I thoroughly enjoyed sitting next to Waldo and Sarah Woodcock. Waldo founded GBAMA forty years ago and is still active in blessing this delightful ministry to secretaries. These ladies are the church and associational secretaries that cause our ministries to move forward. They are the unselfish and faithful support staffs in our churches and associations that make the professional ministerial staff successful in their work.

Every pastor, including yours truly, understands that his ministry not only survives, but thrives, due to the hard working secretaries who arrive early and leave late in order to see that every detail is covered and accomplished. I shared with the ladies how appreciative I have always been for the women in my life.

I was born the only son in a Southern Baptist pastor’s family. I was situated right between two incredible sisters and forever blessed by an outstanding Christian mother. Then, nearly 42 years ago, Janice and I were married, and eventually, God gave us three daughters.

What a wonderful time I had. I always said that God knows when one man in a family is enough. There was never a dull day in our home as Janice and I reared our three girls.

I remember the television program “My Three Sons,” but they didn’t have anything on “My Three Daughters.” Our house was a constant parade of girls, ours and many others, who were in to play or for a slumber party or cookout. By the way, those days were a lot more fun than when they got in the teen years and the boys started showing up at our door!

I loved having girls so much that when I went to pick out a puppy for our girls, the lady said, “Do you want a male or a female?” Of course, I responded that I wanted a female.

All three daughters got married and began to have our grandchildren. The first two were girls. By that time, I figured there would never be a boy in my family, but then God began to send grandsons as well. Now, when our daughter, Jennifer, delivers our eighth grandbaby it will be a boy making the count four girls and four boys. I am so blessed!

At the church offices where I served, I worked with wonderful ladies who were my secretaries. Then there were the five or so other ladies I worked with in the church office and the several ladies I worked with in the weekday preschool program for which I assumed responsibility.

After my years as a pastor, I came to the Convention and my life everyday for nearly 17 years has been directed by women. First it was Fran, Debbie, and Jeanne. Now, Debbie, Daphne, and Jeanne watch after me everyday.

I wouldn’t think about going through a day without asking, “Okay, where do I go next?” Debbie said the other day that it takes a whole village to see after me. It does and they are all wonderful ladies.

Then, of all things that could happen to me, a few years ago when GPS systems emerged, I purchased one, and you guessed it, there is a little lady in that GPS and she tells me where to go all the time. She tells me every turn to make and if I don’t go where she wants me to go she says, with some tone of disgust, “Recalculating.”

My entire life has been directed by women, and I have loved every minute of it. I feel so blessed to have been encouraged and guided and helped by so many godly women, beginning with my wife, and before her my mother and sisters, my daughters, and now my granddaughters.

Let me encourage all of you who are serving in church, association, and convention staff positions to take the time to tell your ministry assistants how grateful you are for them. They do a lot for your ministry and a simple “Thank you” goes a long way.