An old hymn came to mind the other day, and as I listened to the words, I couldn’t help but be transported back in time. There I was in my grandpa’s church; everyone was there. Grandma was at the piano playing the song as only she could; Grandpa was standing on the platform singing away as the song leader waved his hand with the tempo of Fanny Crosby’s “To the Work.” My aunts and uncles and cousins were there, along with my own family. During the chorus I can hear the echo of grandpa’s voice with each repetition of toiling on.
If ever a song captured the life and ministry of Jerry and Wanda Osborne it is this one. Just a glance at the passages they claimed as their life’s verses gives testimony to their eagerness serving the Lord. For grandpa it was 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” And for grandma it was John 9:4, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” Anyone who ever knew these two godly people, knew without a doubt that they were first and foremost servants of God, seeking first the kingdom God, doing all for the glory of God, as they stood for the gospel of God.
Grandma and grandpa must have had the same spiritual nature which the apostle encountered among the Thessalonians, for Paul’s words in his first letter to them could just as well be spoken of Jerry and Wanda Lue. If he wrote to them, he might have said something like: “We remember without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved, your election by God; how you became followers of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Buena Park and Norwalk who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Buena Park and Norwalk, but everywhere.”
Grandma and grandpa were of a rare kind indeed. They lived and breathed the gospel and the separated themselves from the sinful world around them. They were busy for the Master and had no time to dilly-dally with the things of earth; such things were strangely dim to them who beheld by faith the face of their Savior in all of His glory and grace. From the time of their conversions in 1946 and 1947 they answered the call of Christ to be trained for His work. Then, together in 1952, the laid their hands to the plow of ministry as they planted their own church, where they faithfully served their Master until He called them home to their reward. What an incredible testimony they are to all who knew them and remember them!
Grandpa went to be with the Lord in 1997 and grandma followed Him in 2014. In the ever-passing years I have spent without them, I have looked to them as the standard of service. Not just in official capacities of ministry, but also in my service to my family. One thing must be understood, or else many things will be misunderstood: Jerry and Wanda Lue loved their family and always made their ministry a “family business.” As Wanda and Jerry started their family, they also started their church; but their church was merely an extension of their home. They did not serve the Lord separate from their homelife, and their homelife was not separate from their church. They raised their children in a loving Christian home, and further trained them to serve the Lord with them at their church. Family and church, church and family. These two things were inseparable, and in this is a great lesson; for Jerry and Wanda taught us all that the Christian life should not be a divided life, but rather a “family” life marked by loving service for the Master.
The complaint may be raised that the standard set by grandma and grandpa is too high, too rigid, too inconvenient. They lived in a different time and such a way of life is just not workable today. I see the rolling of the eyes when faithful church attendance is brought up; and I hear the moans and groans when committed ministry is mentioned. I understand it is a different time. Jerry and Wanda basically raised their family in one house where they lived for 35 years as they served the same church for 46 years. People today are transient. They hardly sit still for a few years before they get the itch to move. Families today are blended through unwedded relationships, divorce, remarriage, more unwedded relationships, with kids thrown in from all sides as if they were seasoning to the mix. I get it. And it is true. For the philosophy of the life and ministry of Jerry and Wanda Osborne to work, there must first be a surrender to God and His ways. There must first be a faithfulness to obey His word and to continue in His work no matter what happens. In other words, through affliction you will yet serve Him. Through strain and heartache, you will yet raise your kids for Him, believing as the prophet said that God “seeks godly offspring.”
When Wanda recalled her years with grandpa, she would say: “Were there no hardships? Oh, yes, we knew that ship well. But it never really mattered. The blessing of serving Jesus was far greater than any hardship. And even in the hardships we were together. We never considered turning back.” This is truly the Christian Way!
Today, as I remember grandpa and as I think of grandma, I cannot help but consider the great testimony they have left behind, their great example of a godly marriage and of keeping a Christian home where kids and grandkids could experience the love of Christ and learn to serve Him. I suppose it is, indeed, work and toil, full of inconvenience to busy schedules and sporting events, but for those who have been converted through the love of the Master and His Gospel, “His commandments are not burdensome.” As grandpa wrote long ago, “with all my heart, mind, and soul I believe there is JOY in serving Jesus!”
To the work! To the work! We are servants of God;
Let us follow the path that our Master has trod;
With the balm of His counsel our strength to renew,
Let us do with our might what our hands find to do.
Toiling on, toiling on,
Toiling on, toiling on;
Let us hope, let us watch,
And labor till the Master comes.
To the work! To the work! In the strength of the Lord,
And a robe and a crown shall our labor reward,
When the home of the faithful our dwelling shall be,
And we shout with the ransomed, “Salvation is free!”
Fanny Crosby, 1869
In : Meditations
Tags: jerry osborne wanda lue church family ministry service "the master" faith love legacy
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