By Eddie Aldape
Barbra Sawyer was a 95-year-old, totally-committed CBF missions’ supporter. We were on our way back to the United States when we received a call from another church member letting us know about her deteriorating condition and that she had been placed on hospice care. Upon arrival, we went directly to see her. Friends greeted us and told us she was speaking gibberish and they weren’t sure if she recognized anyone anymore. Our hearts sank with sadness as we proceeded to her room. Lying there in her bed, she attempted to sit up and signaled for us to come closer, and contrary to what her friends had told us, she opened her mouth and immediately asked if we were going to attend the missions committee meeting. Lying on her death bed, this lady of God had one single concern, and that was for us and our work. She stated that she was worried that our church needed to have more CBF-minded committee members that would keep our work in the forefront of every gathering.
We first met Barbra back in 1998 when we joined the STAR Team (South Texas Adopt Romany Team). We were a group of churches that formed this group to focus some of our mission efforts on the work of CBF’s Field Personnel among the Roma. Barbra was a mover and a shaker back then, and remained so up until the end. She always stayed in contact with every member of the Romany Team, praying for them at every opportunity and creating opportunities to share about their work. Once we became field personnel, she made sure Trinity Baptist Church remembered that we had joined CBF through the STAR Team. She gathered a group of other mission-minded ladies, and they decided to start a mission house. They fixed it up, acquired all the furniture and trappings, and set it up to be used by field personnel whenever they needed it. When it was completed, Barbra contacted us because she wanted us to be the first to use the new facility. She loved us and supported us so well.
Barbra was the kind of person who always sought out ways to help support global missions, never being content if there was an unmet need. For example, when we arrived in Spain in 2015, we did not have a vehicle, so we have to use public transportation to get around. We had lived in India for almost 14 years prior to that, and being from South Texas, we were not used to the bitter cold in Albacete. We posted a picture of ourselves bundled up waiting for the bus, and that’s all it took to light Barbra’s fire. As soon as she saw the picture, she got on the phone with her group of ladies, and by the end of the week, we had enough money to purchase a used vehicle.
At one point, we had to transition from being fully-funded to raising our own funds for our operating budget. We had absolutely no idea where to even start, but Barbra did. At 90 years old, she went back to work and gathered together her group of ladies, who came up with a project. They made custom jewelry and sold it to raise funds for us, and we once again found ourselves fully funded thanks to Barbra and others like her.
Our prayer and hope is that, if God grants us that many years of life, perhaps we can live up to the standard set by Barbra Sawyer, working to support CBF missions, even to the end.
Eddie is a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel ministering to immigrants and students in Albacete, Spain. Learn more about Eddie and his ministry at www.cbf.net/aldape.