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.