God, I Miss Her

Posted: December 10, 2019 in Meditations



My Aunt Faith lost her battle to cancer thirty years ago at the peak of her powers, a brilliant force for all that is deemed good in this world. And I miss her, God, I miss her. She remains an icon to all who knew her. If you listen to a recording of her teachings, you will understand why. The rare seer articulates the truths of Scripture within the fabric of life. Faith had that ability to challenge hearts to a way forward that puts flesh and soul to the plow of the Gospel. Platitudes melt and volition to spiritual revolution arise. Faith called us to arms with humor that softened an uncompromising alacrity. God, did you have to take her so young?

My aunt was born in a world of want far from her adult home of New York City. From all accounts, Faith was painfully shy. One of eleven children, it was easy to lose this little blonde jewel in the hustle and bustle. She went to college in Greeley, Colorado. Her dry wit made Faith a family treasure but nothing betrayed the person and calling that still dominates our memories today. Who would think a life in rural North Carolina and eastern Colorado could prepare woman for ministry in New York City? And who would imagine a shy blonde woman could command respect in Harlem? God could, and he did. Did you have to take her so young?

“It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.” Acts 12:1,2  James was one of three with Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus poured himself into Peter, James, and John like no others. And yet, ten years later he is killed like a dog. Why did we lose the best at the peak of his powers? “When Herod saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.” Acts 12:3  Imagine the alarm of the church, James is dead and Peter is soon to follow. “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.”  Acts 12:5  The church earnestly prayed for James and he died. From their perspective, I’m sure they were crushed when the worst happened. How do you think the church felt with Peter in prison? They feared the worst; they had every reason to doubt a miracle. Peter faced the same doubts. If James died, why on earth would God spare me? The rest of Acts 12 tells the miracle of Peter’s escape from prison. Peter and the church were surprised by God’s intervention. Their prayers were answered. Why Peter and not James? Only God knows. We call it providence and leave it alone. Still, I ask, did you have to take him at the peak of his powers?

Faith poured herself into me as a boy. I spent summer days in the Bronx. I played in the streets while Faith worked. Cars slowed down and yelled, “Cracker!” I smiled, waved back. Sometimes ignorance is a blessing. She pursued me as a teenager and college student, gave me books to read, literature I wouldn’t find in local libraries or seminaries. Point of view means everything and she wanted me to live in the skin of the oppressed. My kids often wonder why I react emotionally to bigotry and condescension. I believe a big chunk of my aunt lives in me, a piece that will die with me. I lacked the maturity to marinate in her wisdom at that time but the heart does not forget an investment. The word of God truly does not return void. I’m grateful to say, “Aunt Faith, I was not a waste of your time.” And that legacy passes to my children. my Elizabeth is only 20. I pour intention into her life as Faith poured into mine.

Aunt Faith passed to glory, she surrendered the baton of ministry to the capable hands of others. That’s how God works. On the Urban Youth Alliance site, I read these words, “The mother of Urban Youth Alliance, Rev. Faith Brown, loved New York City. She loved the drug addict, she loved the gang member, and she deeply loved the inner city.” My aunt dearly loved a little oblivious boy from Wisconsin named Phillip. God, I miss her.

  1. Gayle Paulsen says:

    Me too, Phil. But what a legacy. Love you my nephew.

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