By John BouquetAugust 17, 2017
Tribute to a Servant of the Lord….FANNIE BLAKE 1920-2017
Fannie Blake entered into the presence of the Lord on Friday, August 11, 2017 at 7:45 PM at the Brethren Care Village. She was Bethel’s oldest member at 97 years old. Greater than her title, “oldest member” was her service as a Believer in Jesus Christ at the Church.
In the front cover of her Bible is a handwritten statement, “I, Fannie, believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” That statement summarizes her life. She not only believed it, but she spent 51 years at Bethel living it out.
We are talking about a lady who in the 1960’s implemented Jr. church when most churches were not even interested in doing anything with their kids during the worship service. Fannie was teaching “Junior Church” and mentoring others to take that role on after she was through.
She invested over 50 years in two different churches teaching 1st and 2nd graders. Hundreds of children heard her teach, saw her life and she personally has led many of them to the Lord Jesus Christ. The pastors of Bethel have baptized many of those children and eventual adults to listen to their testimony before the baptism, “Fannie Blake led me to the Lord.” She was a VBS worker, a faithful servant in all the aspects of the church.
There was not a project Bethel took on where John and Fannie Blake were not a part of the giving and the building. Bethel is the church it is because of the faithfulness of people like the Blake’s. God uses people to build His Church, she is the kind of person God likes to use for building a flock of people for the Glory of God.
Fannie saw beyond the local church to the nations of the world. The old Sunday school song, “Be a missionary every day, tell the world Jesus is the way” rang true in her life. She volunteered at the Mission to Amish People here in Savannah reaching out to the Amish people in a mailbox Bible club. You could count on the Blake’s to visit missionaries on the field in Haiti and Ecuador. She was proud of her grandson, Gerald Ziemer and his family as church planting missionaries in Romania. Missions giving was at the top of her list of priorities.
The heart of Fannie was her family. She loved talking about them. Her and John had 7 children. Two of them went to heaven before her, Ernie and Nancy. Their deaths marked her deeply. The family extended in grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. Besides loving them, cheering them on in the activities, she was most concerned with whether they were “walking with the Lord.” On countless pastoral visits, she would say, “pray for so and so, I am not sure they are walking with the Lord.” The spiritual destiny of her family was her heartbeat. Being right with Jesus is all that matters in life.
If pastors are allowed to have “favorites” then Fannie was mine. I have said to the Lord over and over again, “Thank you Lord for calling me to Bethel and allowing me to be the pastor to Fannie Blake.” I was highly favored to be her pastor. I was honored to learn how to live out over decades a faithful life for Jesus. I enjoyed every visit with her in her home, hospital room or the nursing home. She was anxious for heaven. All she wanted was a “new body.”
We are content to know Fannie is home with Jesus and many of her loved family members and friends. Now we must go onward. It will take some serious discipleship to raise up new servants in this generation to live as she lived for Jesus. It is the task of the church to keep replacing its core servants with the next generation.
The purpose of this tribute is to give the challenge out to her family and our Bethel family. Who will accept the challenge to serve until your breath leaves your body and you enter into the presence of the Lord. Your ambition should be to hear the precious words, “Well Done, my good and faithful servant.” I am confident Fannie heard those words on Friday night, earth time.
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV)
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.