I don’t think any of us who have been blessed with the gift of a godly mother can fully convey all that is in our hearts when we say the simple title Mom. I know I can’t.
This morning my mother, Maxine Chappell, went to be with the Lord. She was an amazing mom, wife, soulwinner, educator, and missionary. She has been battling Alzheimer’s for several years now, and I can only imagine the delight she experienced when she again recognized a face…and it was Jesus.
Even so, I profoundly miss her.
Several days ago Terrie and I received a call that Mom was unresponsive and didn’t have much longer to live. We drove to see her in Phoenix as quickly as we could.
Mom hasn’t been allowed visitors for the past seven months. The most we have been able to do is look through a window at her. But because of her condition these past couple of weeks, she was moved to another room, and we were allowed to gather around her bed. As we sang and read Scripture, she regained a strength and awareness she hasn’t had in a long time. In fact, Mom hasn’t connected two words together in over two years, but she looked at my brother and sister-in-law and said, “I love you.” She scanned the faces around her bed, made eye contact with my dad whom she has loved for fifty-nine years, and smiled. I’m so grateful for these moments we had with her to say goodbye. Shortly after, she fell back asleep and was again unresponsive…until, as I mentioned, she was in the presence of Christ.
It didn’t really surprise me that what rallied Mom in her final hours was the words of Scripture and music of the hymns that she loved. My mother deeply loved the Lord and found His strength and grace sufficient for a lifetime of serving Him.
As a teenager, Mom had a love for “the church” and wanted to be a nun. Then a friend invited her to a Baptist church where she heard the gospel. Mom trusted Christ as her Savior, and everything about her life changed. For the rest of her life, anyone who met my mother knew she loved the Lord, and she probably asked them about their own salvation.
Mom was a soulwinner like no one else I know. Over the years, she led hundreds of people to Christ—including my mother-in-law. I first learned to share the gospel by going door-to-door soulwinning with my mom when I was eight years old.
Mothers live for their children in a thousand sacrificial ways. But Mom didn’t merely live for us; she taught us to live for others. Whatever compassion and servant-heartedness I possess, my mom taught me. She led one of the bus routes our church ran when I was growing up and enlisted me as her “assistant captain”—a title I took seriously. Every Sunday, our route needed not one but two buses because of all the kids and families Mom had reached out to, shared the gospel with, and loved to Christ. Over the years on the bus route, I remember seeing her bring clothes to the poor, help single moms, and simply love people.
When I was going into high school, my dad told our family that God called him to be a missionary in Korea. Mom, who was comfortably settled and surrounded with ministry opportunities in the States, gladly followed him. She sold all the furniture and belongings she had, moved halfway around the world, and mastered the Korean language.
I remember when I was in high school how I looked forward to her coming to my room each evening while I was doing my homework. She would ask me about my day, tell me she was praying for me, and usually share a Scripture verse with me. When I left for college, Mom drove me to the airport. Although I knew it was a tough goodbye for her, she fervently encouraged me to learn, grow, and invest my life in serving the Lord. Through my college years, she wrote me often, admonishing me to work hard in school and giving me dating advice for my relationship with Terrie.
All of my mom’s children and grandchildren loved her and were sure of her deep love for them. Family was precious to Mom, and we have all been reminiscing of the special memories we each have with her.
Those who knew my mom will not be surprised to hear that as I was with her these past couple weeks, despite her suffering and her inability to communicate with us, I saw peace in her eyes. Mom has had much heartache in life, but she never lost her focus on Christ.
It is convicting to me to see how Mom’s focus on Christ always fueled a love for the souls of others.
I’ll never forget an experience I had with Mom few years ago. The Alzheimer’s was taking its toll and she no longer remembered her family or understood her surroundings. I was visiting my parents in Phoenix and took them to In-N-Out Burger. I got up to fill my drink, and before I returned to our booth, I saw my mom passing out gospel tracts to others in the restaurant. With every tract she handed out, she asked, “Do you know for sure that Heaven is your home?” Her memory was fading, but her passion for souls was strong.
Even in those final months that Mom could still speak, she consistently asked her doctors and nurses if they knew that Heaven was their home and would share an entire Romans Road gospel presentation with anyone who would listen.
I’m thankful for Mom to be free of pain and in the presence of Christ. Even so, I miss her, and I look forward to the day that I see her again in Heaven.
Meanwhile, I think Mom would want me to ask you, “Do you know for sure that Heaven is your home?”