“Praise the Lord!
Over the years the Lord has been gracious enough to allow a handful people into my life that have had a tremendous influence upon me both as a person and as a pastor. One such person is Barbara Hemple. She and her husband Bob moved to town to be close to their daughter and grandchildren. I can still remember our first conversation about serving the Lord, Barbara had spent several years as a kindergarten teacher at a Christian school. I think she felt a bit of responsibility to the children’s ministry, however she shared with me that she thought maybe the Lord was calling her to serve in a different way. I told her that since I was often a bit like an absent minded professor I could use someone who would run the church office and serve as my secretary. She jumped at the chance and for several years became part of the backbone of the ministry. (The staff used to say that I could leave without a problem but if Barbara goes the whole place will fall apart.)
As time went on it became necessary for her to step out of that role and into a new one. Several years ago I began writing devotional blogs in hopes of encouraging people to read through the Scriptures on a daily basis. I am not a writer and quite frankly not even sure how to punctuate properly. After a few weeks, Barbara approached me and asked if there was anyway she could help. From that moment on she began to edit every post. Morning after morning she would eagerly await the blog and once it was posted she would immediately make the necessary corrections so that it would make sense to the readers. (We often laughed together at the times when it was almost impossible for her to decipher what I was actually trying to say.) It is amazing to me that over the years she has actually edited devotions on almost every chapter of the entire Bible that amounts to over 1,000 posts. During that same season we began a series at our church where we did an overview of every book of the Bible. Because of the enormous content in each lesson I decided to make notes available to the church. Again Barbara stepped up to assist. After teaching I would email her the outline and she would once again use her editing skills to make it understandable to the reader. Those notes have now been passed along to hundreds of people all over the world. (I have been contacted by people from Israel, West Bank, Brazil, Europe, West and South Africa and even Siberia who have been blessed by those studies.)
My last conversation with Barbara was a joy. She approached me after our evening service and offered her assistance to help organize the prayer ministry. (That was another passion of hers as she met with a handful of other women and prayed every Thursday for the needs of our church.) As always we took care of business pretty quickly and then just talked and laughed.
After helping to lead a servants meeting at church Barbara suffered a sudden and unexpected hemorrhage and as a result stepped across the threshold into eternity surrounded by her family who loves her dearly. While I know the hurt is deep for many, I also know like many other giants of faith, her final act on earth was serving Christ. Over the years I have been blessed and encouraged by a lot of people but very few have supported me the way Barbara did. I am a better man and a better pastor because of her. If you have been blessed in anyway by the ministry of the Word at Calvary Chapel Vero Beach or by the these blog posts, Barbara had a hand in all of it.
Until we see each other in glory.