Again, we were at the church on Friday morning. This time it was for another memorial service. A very good friend of the church, Rilla Hubbard, passed away and her family requested that the service be held at our Vision Plus Church.
Rilla lived a wonderful, full life. She loved the Lord. She had a fine husbnad (who passed away over 10 years ago) and they raised their kids to know who Jesus was. She wanted desperately to be a missionary as a teenager, but God had other plans. God used Rilla to encourage, support and pray for hundreds of missionaries and pastors and loved ones through the years. After attending BIOLA (Bible Institute of Los Angeles, which is now Biola University), she was active in church work and home life and career work, all at the same time.
Rilla was living in San Clemente when I met her. She showed up at our church one Sunday morning in January 2001, the first month of our new church start. When we asked why she was at our little place of worship (with only about 17 people in attendance in those beginning days), she said, "I have a daughter who is married and has four girls, and I am trying to find a church for them to attend." Her daughter, Cindy, lives about two blocks from the church.
Cindy, by her own admission, had gone the way of the world in drugs and hard living. Little by little, Cindy began to bring her four girls to church. Cindy got active and became our church secretary, as well as one of our strongest youth leaders. We baptized the girls as they came to saving faith in Jesus. But Cindy's husband, Mike, never came except on special events (and that was rare for him). Cindy's mother-in-law, Betty, started attending and became our Women's Ministry leader until she passed away last year. Rilla continued to attend our church whenever she was in town to see her kids and grandkids, coming all the way from San Clemente each time. For a few years, she sent a monthly check to help our church financially, which no one knew about except Cindy and me.
The memorial service was a time of recounting the precious years and great memories of one who lived a life for the Lord. She was compassionate, caring, loving and kind. She just made everyone feel special.
After the service on Friday, Mike (Cindy's husband) came to me when tears in his eyes. He said, "Galen, I will be here this Sunday morning." I began to almost weep myself. Mike, a nice young man who had strayed for many years away from God, was comiing home! Coming back to let God lead him again in life.
Sunday morning, Mike sat close to Cindy and the kids. He made good on his promise. We had the Lord's Supper at the close of the service. With the other church folk, Mike walked the aisle with Cindy for this special time, as we had the elements on the communion table for members to come forward and partake. When he walked by me to pick up the elements of communion, he smiled. God was so very present in our time of worship!
Rilla made a difference in this world. If only for Mike, it was all worth it. We are so blessed.