The blog below was written by Patricia Hernandez, national director of Women in Ministry and Transition Ministries, ABCUSA. This blog, written in early May, is posted as a tribute to Rev. Dr. Veronica Lanier, long time minister, missionary and coordinator of missionary speakers, who died on Wednesday, May 28. We fondly remember Ronny and her many years touching American Baptists, and other lives, along the way.
Spring is a time of new beginnings. As I approach the beginning of my third year serving as the National Director for American Baptist Women in Ministry, I am thinking back to my beginnings.
The first week that I began this new ministry role, I was just barely getting acclimated to my new office and surroundings. As the mail cart rolled by I didn’t even look up from my desk. “Letter for you,” said someone, whom I soon came to know as “Dave,” carrying on a tradition begun by his father 46 years ago. “A letter for me?” I wondered, figuring junk mail must be in store.
Junk mail, no.
Luscious letter, yes.
Printed on the front of the envelope in neatly drawn block letters was my name, completely written out, splayed from one end of the envelope to the other: Rev. Patricia Pearl Hernandez.
Junk mail? No.
Peculiar, particular me. Yes.
When I opened the envelope, and pulled out the letter, out fell a crisp, clean, newly minted one dollar bill. As I opened the letter, it passionately proclaimed:
You are called; God has chosen YOU. Believe it!
I will be praying for you every day. (with “every” underlined three times!)
And then her inimitable signature,
Be of Good Cheer!
Ronny (Rev. Dr. Veronica Lanier, long time minister, missionary and coordinator of missionary speakers)
In April, I had the opportunity to reconnect with Ronny. As we lingered and laughed over bowl of jelly beans, Ronny leaned towards me, passionately peering not just into my eyes but deep into my soul.
“You are called, do you know it? You are called. Claim it!” And then as she grasped my hands, “I am here for you; you don’t have a clue about how much I love you!”
Mothering mentor (this mother of 7,000), model of divine mirth, she continued, “Jesus called me out of the multitude to be a servant to my Lord. The only obligation I have is to give him the best that I’ve got. I don’t have to be as good as anyone else or as smart as anyone else or as anything as anyone else. I just have to be myself.”
All the way home, her words echoed in my ears: “I don’t have to be as good as anyone else or as smart as anyone else or as anything as anyone else. I just have to be myself.”
Just who God created me to be.
Everyone needs a ‘Ronny’ in their life, someone who believes in them, celebrates their gifts and affirms their call, someone who is their advocate and their friend. Someone to love them like only a mother of 7,000 can, like only a God of millions—each peculiar and particular— does.
Everyone needs someone to remind each one of us that not only are we deserving of more than junk mail, but we are not junk. We are created and called. We are gifted to serve, to “give the best that we’ve got,” in Ronny’s words.
As we move through the spring season of new beginnings, let’s remember that we have something worth celebrating. This season let us all remember our beginnings—not just how many years we’ve been on the job or in ministry—but our beginnings in God.
You are created.
You are called.
Claim it—and Celebrate!
Finally, I’d like to close by sharing the charge Ronny gave at a Commissioning Service at the last Asian Caucus and Conference meeting she attended:
“We have been here together knowing we were called by God to be one of his servants.
So, my Christian brothers and sisters, I charge you in the name of the Lord Jesus, the great Head of the Church to be faithful to your high calling, no matter what anyone says, and most important of all, keep your hand tightly clasped in the hand of our Lord as you walk in his steps.
Furthermore, always remember
to look up and not down,
out and not in,
forward and not back.
Bless each one of your servants, Lord, and Be of Good Cheer.”
Blogs written by ABCUSA Leadership Team members will be published periodically on the website. Views expressed are the sole opinion of the author.