Unsung Servants of God

By Tricia Rife

Servanthood is the hallmark of Christian leadership. Look no further than the character of Jesus: humility, love, service, and compassion. Christian leadership is selfless, other-centered, and bathed in prayer.

Christian leadership is selfless, other- centered, and bathed in prayer. All across The Wesleyan Church, laypersons and clergy alike embody this lifestyle of serving as Jesus did–humbly putting others first. Most every local Wesleyan church has examples of unheralded heroes of faith, living lives of selfless service. Here is a snapshot of a few Wesleyans who serve their families, churches, and communities in this very way.

Edith Orem

For 50 years Edith has been a member of College Park Wesleyan Church in College Park, Md. Edith has served the church in so many ways: district board of administration, local board of administration, Sunday school superintendent and teacher, children’s church teacher, prayer ministry, and English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher. If one picks up a hymnal during a service, that hymnal was probably repaired once by Edith. In years past, Edith participated in what was termed a bus ministry. She traveled on Saturdays to hundreds of homes and specifically invited people to church. She would have an answer for any excuse:

Don't have a ride? We'll come and get you.

Have kids? I'll watch them in the nursery.

Football? Come on in and I'll tackle you for free.

She ignored all inquiries about her health until she heard who was taking care of her class

Attendance reached a peak in those days and many of those were a direct result of Edith’s efforts. Dozens of people came and found the Lord as a result.

Edith’s greatest passion is teaching children. Her devotion to her classes is legendary. She was recently hospitalized for pneumonia and when the pastor visited, she ignored all inquiries about her health until she heard who was taking care of her class on Sunday. Edith also volunteers many hours privately tutoring at the local library. In speaking to people about her, the question was posed to describe Edith’s character in one word. Everyone had numerous words: wisdom, strength, caring, and prayerful were often repeated. Edith’s height has been referred to as “5 foot nothing.” She is small in stature, but to those at College Park, Edith is the loftiest woman they know.

Greg Pyles

It had been 15 years since Greg Pyles set foot in a church after a “bad experience.”

Yet Greg showed up at The Grove, a church in Fort Collins, Colo., the day after Chris Carpenter, a member of the pastoral staff, felt led to approach him and introduce himself at a car show. Since that Sunday in September 2013, Greg has scarcely missed a service–even though he drives 45 minutes one way to church. Today he serves as worship team technical coordinator, requiring him to serve mid-week at rehearsals and on Sunday mornings.

Greg spends time at the church on Saturdays, too, throughout the month, helping take care of the building. Recently a mother in Fort Collins needed some help. Greg spent a good part of a day cooking and preparing frozen meals for that family.

Greg also opened his home, hosting a family in serious financial trouble until they were able to live on their own again.

Greg rededicated his life to Jesus and was baptized outdoors among the beautiful Colorado Rockies. But for Greg, he’s saved in order to serve. He “gets it.”

“Greg’s leadership and sacrificial service toward others is part of the very fabric of who he is, a faithful man of God,” said Chris. “There is not a single life he hasn’t touched in our small Grove community.”

Bev Woodcock

Bev Woodcock spends much of her free time cooking and coordinating meals to feed strangers in downtown Kingston, Ontario. Bev attends Kingston Wesleyan Church and serves as the coordinator of ten teams that cook and serve meals each Sunday night at a church downtown.

Anyone can eat these meals–and for free. Bev doesn’t skip Sundays; she is there every Sunday to serve meals to those in need, making sure all is running smoothly to feed “the least of these” in Kingston. She has even organized the fundraisers to purchase new stoves and other items needed for cooking for a crowd. She provides all the little extras on special days, like Christmas bags, Valentine’s Day, Easter chocolates (a big favorite), Mother’s Day gifts, Father’s Day gifts, and many other gifts of love.

Her affectionate heart and deep respect for each person she is helping shows...

Just as one decorates a home for holidays and special occasions, Bev decorates for every special day, even birthdays. If she knows it is someone’s birthday, a candle is placed in the dessert and the person is serenaded. She communicates to staff and all team leaders and members after each Sunday’s meal, reporting about the meal, the attendance, and if anything unusual or interesting happened—or issues that concern safety or logistics. Every Friday she picks up donations from a local store to use in the program and distributes the surplus to other ministries in the city. The self-sacrifice of time and energy Bev gives leading this volunteer ministry is incredible. Her affectionate heart and deep respect for each person she helps shows in the loving way she cares for their needs and welfare.