By Ralphine Major
“She has cared for her family members unceasingly. She is concerned for the spiritual and physical welfare of those in need. She is committed to assisting others and sharing Christ with everyone she meets.” Yvonne Piercy, Director of Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church, recently described Jeannette Thomas in the above statements. For years, Jeannette has been the driving force behind the church’s many mission trips to help those in need in the rural region of Appalachia. Though she has helped in mission work overseas in places like Costa Rica and Bolivia and in Knox County Associational and state WMU leadership, it is her mission trips nearer home that I hear about the most.
Though Jeannette has been a member of Wallace since 1956, Wallace Memorial Director of Mission Ministries Sandy Bolton was living in Nashville when she first met Jeannette. “Jeannette came to lead a conference for the Nashville Baptist Association,” Sandy said. “It has been a joy to serve alongside such a committed, dedicated lady who puts everyone else first,” she added.
I was surprised to learn that Jeannette trained in the Army as a cadet nurse at Bethesda Hospital in Cinncinnati, Ohio, and served in WWII at Fort Thomas. It is no wonder that those who know her are so deeply inspired by the energetic homemaker who turned 91 last month. “Jeannette is a role model for all mission leaders and an example that there is no age limit to serving our Lord,” Sandy added. “Jesus truly shines through her, and I am blessed to call her my friend!”
Life has not been easy for this mission-minded lady. Her only children, three daughters, all died from Huntington’s disease. “It is a deterioration of the central nervous system,” Jeannette told me. “The disease, which is hereditary, attacks the brain and affects motor skills. Its victims usually live normal lives until their fifties or sixties,” she added. It claimed her husband in 1986.
I was impressed with Jeannette’s upbeat attitude and her sweet spirit. “What I’ve done, I have done for the Lord,” she said. It is no wonder the 91-year-old inspires so many. We all should strive to duplicate Jeannette’s care, her concern, and her commitment!