When my husband was two years old, a very sweet Sunday school teacher gave him a Bible. This was the first Bible he had received, and he carried it with him to church faithfully over the next several years. This is the story of thousands of children who attended Old Suwanee Baptist Church. This dear lady, Mrs. Dorothy Earl, passed away on December 30, 2012. Her life has touched so many, and this was evident at the funeral as the hands of those children, now grown, were lifted with tears in their eyes to testify of the love she showed them.
As I sat contemplating my blog post for this week, I saw that little Bible Will received from Ms. Dot on the dresser. I wanted to share her story with you, but there is someone who knows her story far better than I do. So, I have asked Beth Gates, missionary to Egypt, to share her grandmother’s story with you.
Thank you, Beth!!
1 John 4:7,10-11 – Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
When I think about my Granny Dot, two words come to mind:
The first one is LOVE.
The second is SERVANT.
Both are qualities that I think we would all like to have and be known for. However, both are qualities that require selflessness and sacrifice, which we probably all struggle with, at least from time to time. So, here’s the story of one of my greatest heroes, Dorothy E. Earl, as many know of as, Ms. Dot or Granny Dot.
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At the age of two, Granny Dot and her siblings were put into an orphanage. This orphanage was not the type of orphanage that we would think of today. The children there worked in the fields from sunrise to sunset, even at very young ages. They were fed very little and showed very little love or affection. Not only were their little stomach’s empty and hungry for food, but their little hearts were starving for attention and love. The punishments at this institution were harsh and cruel. Granny once told me of a time that she took a piece of hard candy from a jar and ate it. “I was hungry. I saw the candy, and thought nothing about it. I was probably only about 3 or 4 years old,” she told me. “Then when they found out, I was sent to my room for three days and given only water with lemon to drink.” Just a few years later, she was told the wondrous story of our Saviour, and accepted Christ for her salvation. She quickly began to feel loved and accepted and a sense of belonging. To the day she died, her favorite song was “I’m Glad to be a Part of the Family of God.”
Now, I tell you the story of her days in the orphanage because these were the days that her faith was built. She went through some tough times and learned the power of prayer through them. She learned that Jesus was with her, and He answered prayers to keep her from harm time after time.
Many people surely would have turned bitter and cold and would have determined to show the world the same unkindness as they were shown. Why didn’t Granny Dot? Because she learned of God, and not only did she learn of God, but she developed a relationship with him. Not only was she saved, but she walked and talked with Him daily. She experienced life with Him and His love for her as she read her Bible and prayed daily.
She went on to be married and had 8 children, 22 grandchildren, and 21 great-grandchildren. She worked in Awanas, Vacation Bible School, and taught the same Sunday School class for over 46 years. This is where the word SERVANT comes in. She served her husband, children, grandchildren, the children in her church, and those she babysat sacrificially and without complaint. Everyone that came into her presence was met with warmth, love, acceptance, and hospitality.
She gave many a child (thousands) their very first Bible, including many that are preachers and missionaries today. She never had very much money, but the Lord always provided a way for her to give His Word (and toys and candy) to those she loved. Did I mention that she never met anyone she didn’t love?
O, how I could go on. How many lessons we could all learn from her. But, most of all, I pray that we, especially I, would learn to walk and trust in the Lord as she did. I know that the fruit would be Love for others. And this LOVE for others would make our efforts to witness and serve God fruitful.
Just yesterday, I was witnessing to a Buddhist lady from Vietnam as she was doing my nails. I felt the words came out clear, but she got quiet and seemed not too affected. I thought afterwards about how God’s Love changes us. I needed to not only tell her about God’s Love, but show her that love as well. God, please give us a Love for others that is felt and seen by all those around us.
Rebel Hill and Beth Gates