It’s hard to overstate the importance of a pastor’s wife, and equally difficult to describe the hole left when she’s gone.
Members of Pine Level Baptist Church just north of Cairo walked that road last year after the death of Dale Weaver, wife to Pastor Jim Weaver. “Through my and the church’s brokenness God has done amazing things since then,” he now says. Weaver credits his late wife’s commitment to ministry and influence in spurring Pine Level members and himself toward greater sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
That sensitivity became a catalyst for helping initiate preparations and plan a community-wide revival Oct. 25-28. Pine Level will be the host church for the event sponsored by Grady County Baptist Association.
A similar revival was held three years ago in Cairo with good results. “The place was packed out,” Weaver remembers. “We used the tent provided by the Georgia Baptist Convention and had a great time that week. The unity of churches working together was one of the greatest benefits you get out of it.”
With 16 churches in the planning process, Weaver expects around 30 congregations will be participating. Preparation has included a media blitz incorporating email, social media (specifically Twitter and Facebook), billboards in Cairo and Bainbridge, and newspaper ads. October brings a lot of festivals, which translate into booths for community groups. At the booth promoting the revival participants had the opportunity to win several items, including an iPad.
The mix of congregations has helped in connecting across borders, Weaver adds. “Whatever their niche or affinity, the churches reach those groups. We want those churches involved but more importantly to bring people who need Jesus.
“Everybody is working together and doing their own thing, coming together on music and outreach. [To prepare for crowds] we’re going to be offering a shuttle service for people from town.”
Absent in body, present in spirit
Even if you never personally met Dale Weaver, you really have. She was the pastor’s wife involved in everything – outreach, music, Sunday School teacher, Discipleship Training, vice president of Georgia Baptist Ministers Wives who spoke at several GBMW events. “You name it, she did it,” her husband testifies. “She was probably a better speaker than me.”
Married when he was 18 and she 17, they’d served at Pine Level for 13 years. Her initial bout with cancer brought a masectomy in March 2005. She was then in remission until January 2014, when another diagnosis revealed cancer in her lungs, liver, and brain, the last having 13 lesions.
“Our church hurt after her death,” Weaver says of his wife, with whom he was two months shy of a 40th anniversary when she died. “She had more faith than anyone I’ve ever known.”
Pain and loss have a way of bringing you to perspectives and ministries you’d rather get to by another path. Weaver says his experience brought him to identify a group often overlooked. “There’s nobody to reach out to the pastor who has lost his wife,” he says, “because few have gone through it. I always look for ways to minister to those guys.
“This has motivated me to be sold out and fired up for what God is doing through our churches. Time is short. We only have a limited amount of time; we need to use it.”