To live is Christ. To die is gain.

This past Monday morning around 11 a.m., E. Jeannette Newton, my mom, graduated from this life.  I find myself reflecting upon the life of this farm girl.

Some of the milestones strewn throughout her life included the beginnings of The Herald of Truth, an Exodus movement, a school teacher, a preacher’s wife, a new wife adopting two kids from New York City and then having two of her own, a missionary, as well as a Bible school curriculum developer.

The Dust Bowl and its aftermath seems like an unlikely contributing catalyst for such a life. But as she told it, it was one of the dominoes setting in motion a series of events.

When crop failure caused her dad to sell the farm, he moved their family into town. According to mom, it was only after these difficulties that her family’s faith became more devoted. This renewed commitment eventually led to her father’s appointment as an elder.

Later when she was a young working adult, the congregation acquired an intense new preacher, James Walter Nicols, who was pursuing an education in Iowa City. Apparently he had the habit of eating breakfast on Sunday morning at her parent’s house. On one particular Sunday morning while eating oatmeal, he announced his dream to start a new radio program called The Herald of Truth. Her family became involved in assisting in its broadcast. The rest is history.

Inspired to dream, she headed off to Tulsa where she participated in a group involved with launching Central Christian in Bartlesville. Later the school moved and became Oklahoma Christian.

Her next step involved attending a Christian university, Lipscomb, to become a school teacher. Upon graduation she participated in an Exodus movement to establish a congregation in Dover, New Jersey.   She married the congregation’s new preacher, John Lee Newton. By the end of their first four years of marriage, she had become the mother of two teenagers and two toddlers.

The next big dream involved moving to Brisbane, Australia, along with the Suddeath family, to become missionaries. Motherhood and ministry combined.

After a number of years, the time came to return to the States. She served as a preacher’s wife and mother throughout the midwest and then back to New England before returning once again to Australia as a missionary wife which was followed by California.

The last of the milestones I am recounting lands her back in Iowa as an aging senior. She worked alongside her husband to create all of the children’s curriculum for their congregation. She even taught some Ladies Bible classes after turning 90 years of age.

She was human. Yet she also lived for Christ to the best of her understanding. It made an impact. Today one of her sons is an elder, two are preachers and former missionaries, as well as a daughter who continues to serve Christ in Australia.

God’s people do not live such lives in order to be saved. Rather, because God’s people are saved they live such lives.

For those who belong to Christ, Paul stated it well – To live is Christ. To die is gain.


11 Replies to “To live is Christ. To die is gain.”

  1. Thank you for sharing your Mom’s sweet epitaph. I hope to meet her in heaven one fine day. My God comfort and strengthen your family.

    1. I love finding things out about people that I have had the privilege of knowing. So much life in your mom’s time on Earth, Barry. Thank you for putting your thoughts on paper at this time. A beautiful life well spent.

  2. God bless you and your family .You are an encouragement to us all. May you find comfort with one another for your loss. From the time I was baptized never missed watching The Herald of Truth. I was far away from friends and family but in my heart, I was home. Please continue sharing your thoughts with us.

  3. Upon reading this tribute, my older brother informed me of a couple of additional details which I have now added to her story.

  4. Hey Barry,

    I just read your article about your awesome mother.
    It was very, very touching!

    May God comfort you in her passing.

    My mother passed away in 2010 and it is still not easy.

    Love you brother,
    F.H. 🙏🏻

  5. Sorry for your loss, enjoyed reading about your family. Thanks for sharing… in our prayers.

  6. It was my pleasure to preach two meetings in Brisbane while your mother and Dad served there. What a wonderful legacy is their’s, you and your siblings as well as many children of God.

  7. Thank you for your prayers, condolences and kind remarks. We appreciate them. They make a difference.

  8. I am Forest Suddeath, whom Barry mentioned went to Brisbane, Australia, with his family. Myself, my wife Ann, and our two children went with them in 1963. A third child was born there. Jeanette, was a lovely Christian lady. She was always positive and pleasant. We worked together for 4 or 5 years before they left the first time. The last time we spent any time together was in 1995 when we visited with them in Cedar Rapids. We had the privilege of visiting with all the children except Barry in Gatlinburg in 2013 and with Barry and his family in San Antonia in 2013. They are wonderful Christians!

  9. So sorry to learn of the death of Jeannette. She was a fine Christian lady, and all of you are a wonderful family. Our prayers are with you.

  10. Thanks Forest for taking this color photo and sharing it with me … and sharing with me the other color photos you took in Australia way back when.

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