Thoughts about my Papa

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Friday night July 26, 2019 the news came from Pastor Godfrey in Kenya as a simple text: “Sorry to say that Papa has gone to be with the Lord at 5:00 o’clock this morning.” A rush of adrenaline. The date was Saturday, July 27, 2019 in Kenya. I had an immediate desire to contact my siblings.  I called my brother Steve who had just ended a phone conversation with Pastor Harrison in Kenya.  I then called our sister Sandra Washer with the news and Steve called our other sister Barbie VanCleave.  Marla and I made the decision to inform our children the next day as it was 11:00 pm EST the night before.  A hug from my Love, Marla Jean as we praised God together in prayer that Papa was HOME.  As I lay in bed tears mingled with the deep peace of the Comforter washing over my soul.  Sleep came as I rested in God’s sovereign love and care.

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By the next morning the decision was made to delay the funeral for two weeks to coincide with the annual pastor’s conference of the Antioch Baptist Church of Karatina.  Papa and Mama developed the Church ministry and Bible Institute during their retirement years.  The Antioch legacy birthed close to thirty Antioch daughter churches. The fruitfulness is a tribute to the planted and watered Word and God’s increase.  Good soil produced lasting fruit.

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I can only imagine Mama Fields giving Papa a tour of Heaven after he arrived.  He had talked to her several times two nights before he gained heaven.  He also talked to his father, my Papaw and told him that he knew that he was likely over 100 years old and could not come back to earth to help him.  Papa passed into glory as he slept.  Medically, a urinary tract infection turned to sepsis which his heart could not handle.  He had lost much of his strength and some weight since he fell and bruised his face on March 30th the day before Marla and I left for Paraguay.  He was ready to go to the place Jesus his Savior prepared for him.

As a tribute I shared the following words at the funeral celebration:

Thoughts from Paul D. Fields on August 10, 2019

Celebration of Papa Fields February 24, 1927 sunrise – July 27, 2019 sunset

Psa. 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Papa lived 92 yrs. 5 months 4 days or 33,757 days or 810,150 hours + -

Ecclesiastes 7:2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.   It is better to be here today than at a party tonight.  This celebration of Papa’s life should help you think in your hearts that one day You and I will be in this kind of a place.  What will be said of you when your life is over?  Where will you spend eternity?

I am thankful that 1Corinthians 15:54… “death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Papa and Mama taught us to give to those we love while they are alive.  The following edited words were written to Papa three months ago when my wife, Marla and I were in Paraguay, South America:

“Thank you, Papa, for living a good testimony for 92 years.  I know since your fall you have not been doing very well.  We pray for you daily that your spirit will remain strong in the Lord even though your body is weak.  Keep your focus on God, Papa.  He will give rest to your heart and grace to bear up under these circumstances.  It is times such as these that I wish we could be with you to hold you, to tell you in person that we love you, to help care for you.  We feel so far away here in Paraguay. Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 

We have been in contact with Steve, Barbie and Sandy.  Each one of us is praying for you and miss you.

Marla sends her love too.  She has always admired you and Mama in the ministries that God gave you in Zambia, Mauritius, Togo and Kenya.  We praise God for the many spiritual children and grandchildren I am sure that you have now in the Lord.  Thank God for the many churches now in Kenya through the Antioch Baptist Church – may God be praised.

We are so thankful that Jesus promised that He would return for us.  Whether we die or live we will be “caught up” in an instant, at the trumpet sound, the voice of the archangel and the command of God.  Jesus will descend to meet us in the air, and we will be with Him for ever and ever.

Thank you, my dear Papa, for leading me to Christ when I was 10 years old.  I am so happy that we were able to go back to Kaindu and that I could show Marla the place where I sat on your knee and shed tears as I believed on Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.  May His name be glorified in each breath we take. 

Thank you for being a good Papa.  You and Mama were good examples of a godly marriage.  All glory to God for giving us the pattern of how to live godly lives.  Thank you for those years at Kaindu as you taught me many things about the ministry.  You let me drive the truck and the motorcycle.  You took us hunting and taught us how to take care of the meat after a hunt.  You taught us to value reading our Bibles daily and the strength received through prayer to our Heavenly Father.

May you be comforted today and be at rest with all that is going on with you.  May God give you strength to face each day.  We pray that God will help you gain strength and be able to go home soon if it is His will.  Rest well my dear Papa, I love you so much!!

Psalm 17:15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. 

You are now truly HOME, Papa.  You are now where you lived to be - in God’s eternal presence through Jesus Christ the Lord.  We say goodbye for now, will see you soon.

Love, hugs and many, many kisses, Paul and Marla in Paraguay”

 

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“Nothing that is given to God in faith and love is ever wasted.” WW ISBE

I hardly can think of Papa without associating Proverbs 3:5-6 which were his life verses: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Over the years I have added to my special verses the seventh verse: Pro 3:7  Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

Papa was a man of the Word, faithful to His calling, his wife and his family. I remember so clearly that Scripture reading, and prayer were a daily part of our lives.  Even when we woke up late once to go hunting Papa paused to read and pray with us before setting out.

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Communication with his four children was important to Papa.  Most of our schooling was away from home.  We began at the Sakeji Mission School near Ikelenge in the Northwest Province of Zambia, not too far from Angola and the Republic of Congo. The boarding school we attended was founded on Christian principles and was overall a good experience for me.  There were few options open to missionaries in that era.  We each received letters weekly from our parents.  We returned the letters each week with the knowledge that we could not be sad or negative in our correspondence. 

 

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Papa loved our Mama.  He was tender and romantic.  He was Mama’s caregiver for her final years of life following her stroke and later surgery resulting in a permanent colostomy bag. True love in action.

Each morning a scripture was read at breakfast.  Every day ended with Bible reading and prayer.  God was the center of the home and relationship.

 

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Over 15 years ago Papa and Mama asked me and my three siblings what we thought of their desire to remain in Kenya for the rest of their lives.  We recognized that our time with them would be limited but that they would be well cared for by our Kenyan brothers and sisters in Christ.  They would be at home and had adequate medical care nearby and further intensive care in Nairobi if needed.  The Antioch Baptist Church was their family.  Our hearts are eternally grateful for those dear ones who took our places with the care of our parents.

 

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My sister Sandra and Terry Washer were in Kenya for many years until they transferred back to Zambia to serve their remaining years as missionaries.  My older brother Steve, a pastor in north Georgia, ministered once or twice a year through the Antioch Baptist Church and her 25-30 daughter churches over the last 15 years.  Barbie who is specialized in geriatric care invested three months to care for Papa following Mama’s homegoing four years ago.  I went to Kenya four years ago as scheduled.  Although Mama had already departed, I was my joy to encourage Papa at a crucial time. Marla and I spent two wonderful weeks with Papa in September 2018.

 

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Life is fragile and short.  Papa and Mama’s lives were well lived and impacted many lives for the Lord. Yes, our brief separation does hurt.  We have said goodbye many times and as always, we know we will be together again shortly.  Pastor Harrison in Kenya mentioned that Papa started the Antioch Baptist Church, but Mama brought music to the ministry.  How true.  Her African nickname was “Joy.”

 

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Now that each of our parents have gone on to be with the Lord we are next. We expect the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ but are prepared to die in that hope if He chooses. May the Lord find us faithful.  We have ten grandchildren to love and mentor. Our joy is to follow our Father and obey His Word.  To God be the glory!