My grandmother, Philadelphia Church of God first lady Barbara Flurry, was known by all as an encourager. While Pastor General Gerald Flurry worked all day at the headquarters office complex in Edmond, Oklahoma, his wife would stay productive in other ways, including phoning the brethren, riding her bicycle to their homes for tea, buying necessities for those in need in our congregation, and shopping at the mall for toys for her grandchildren. I became accustomed to receiving a new Lego set, yo-yo, or some other trinket from her every week or two.
But this changed when my mother started babysitting two siblings around my age while their father went to work. My grandmother kept dropping off toys at the house like she always had—but the toys were no longer for my siblings and me. She knew what the two children staying with us each workday must have been feeling as their parents went through a divorce. She decided to help take their minds off the family turmoil via the pleasant distraction of new toys.
Grandma was a constant presence for the first 11-plus years of my life—especially from December 2003 to Sept. 5, 2004, while she lived at my parents’ house following a stroke that paralyzed half of her body and took away her ability to speak.
During her stay with us, she tried so hard to communicate through gestures and sounds. When we couldn’t understand her, tears welled up in the corners of her eyes. She yearned for her relatives to sit by her bed and hold her hand.
Though she struggled occasionally to stay positive through this debilitating trial, her overall impact on me remained strongly encouraging. (To learn more about Grandma’s lifetime as an encourager, go to this link and listen from 20:50-41:30.)
To this day, Grandma is remembered by pcg members worldwide as an encourager. Even as her physical life came to an end, she encouraged her family—and also the brethren—on the rare instances she left the house to roam campus on her motorized scooter.
1 Corinthians 12 shows how God gives different gifts to His brethren. As my uncle, Trumpet Daily Radio Show host Stephen Flurry, said in the episode referenced above, Grandma had the gift of encouragement. God blessed her with this gift so she could give it to others. Her example uplifted the entire Church—and still does. He gave several fantastic examples:
Following her death, one member said: “I will never forget how you sat on the edge of my bed at the Feast, and encouraged me when I was very sick.”
Another member said, “I never heard her say anything negative to anyone. It was always positive encouragement.”
One member from South Africa said, “She was a positive encouragement and a breath of fresh air whenever you came into her company.”
My uncle recounted: “A year after my mother’s death, I called my fourth-grade teacher, a dear lady who had an impact on my life. As soon as I said my name, she remembered me after 20 years—because she remembered my parents! She remembered how involved both my mother and father were—they left quite an impression.”
True Christians are commanded to encourage one another: “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Anyplace where God’s people are gathered should be a place of peace, comfort, uplift and encouragement!
We almost always live up to this lofty standard—that’s why our hosts at Feast of Tabernacles sites seem to rave nonstop about how much they enjoy having us stay at their hotels or dine in their restaurants. We radiate, we show joy, we smile and express gratitude for their service. These simple acts are becoming less and less common in society, so those around us appreciate them more and more!
But what about your teen group at services, summer camp or Imperial Academy? If you had to choose one word to describe the dynamic of these relationships, would you really choose encouraging? In many cases, it can be easy for teens to be the least encouraging demographic.
As the world is rocked by increasingly terrifying troubles leading up to the return of Jesus Christ, God expects us to be more encouraging than ever. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). God wants us to help each other to boost morale and to develop righteous character! When you speak or take action, are you helping to produce good fruits in the lives of others? Are you in the habit of offering a word of encouragement that might turn around someone else’s day? Do you strive to help and serve others whenever you see an opportunity? Grandma certainly did. She was a unifying force in the pcg for 15 years, a shooting star of encouragement.
Ultimately, our goal is to become just like God in this and every area. “My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2). God doesn’t just speak; He does. He encourages us with iron-clad promises and beautiful poetry in the Bible; He helps us through answered prayers, miracles and blessings. Always be ready to convert your encouraging words into tangible good deeds—just like Grandma, and just like God.