My Barnabas Was a Woman

“…Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”  -Acts 4:36-37

Barnabas was an amazing individual in the Bible.  He stood out not because of his preaching, or miracles, or even because of the numbers whom he converted — Barnabas stood out because he encouraged others.

Encouragement is a neglected spiritual gift!

Barnabas was the apostle who took Paul under his wing and encouraged him — and encouraged a frightened Church to welcome Paul, who was a recent and previously violent convert. Who knows, without Barnabas there may have not been a “Paul.”  In addition, though Barnabas was Paul’s encourager, he wasn’t afraid to stand up to Paul when another young man of God, John Mark, needed an encourager whom Paul had “written off” because of a previous “transgression.”  Paul would later recognize John Mark as vital to his ministry and would request his presence.  Without Barnabas as an encourager, Paul and John Mark may have remained estranged, and they would have been the worse for it — and so would have the Church.

We all need a Barnabas in our lives!  We need an encourager — someone who encourages us but isn’t afraid to stand up to us and for someone else that needs to be encouraged as well.  I have been blessed with several encouragers through the years, but there has been one that comes to mind as my Barnabas — a woman, one of my heroes, my mother-in-law, Von Schreier.

Von would have been 67 yesterday, March 9th.  I say “would have” because she died at 53.  It is one of the most tragic losses in my life because she was one of the greatest blessings.

Von was amazing!  She encouraged individuals that many would have ignored.  And she wasn’t afraid to stand up to others to remind them of their own responsibility to be an encourager.

When I think of Von, Barnabas isn’t the only image that comes to my mind — the other image I have is of a cheerleader.  I mean no offense to cheerleaders, but I’ve never really been a fan.

The unbridled enthusiasm.

The optimism in the face of unspeakable odds.

The unconditional devotion and admiration.

But that’s who Von was for me, and I loved every minute of it.

When she came to Boston, MA, to visit us while I attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, she came to classes with me.

It was fantastic.

Yes, I took my mother-in-law to school with me.  She loved it.  She and Rick, my father-in-law (a man who deserves his own blog post, but my wife wrote that one already), supported us, loved us, and encouraged us through courtship, going to school, and having our children.

And amazingly, they expected nothing in return.

Von continues to encourage me beyond the grave.

NO! She doesn’t talk to me, but her legacy is a legacy of encouragement.  Without her, there is no doubt that I would not be the man, the husband, or the person that I am.

Tomorrow, I’ve asked my wife, Stacy to write a blog on behalf of Von.  I know you will be blessed by my wife’s words and the lesson that she and I both learned from her mother, my mother-in-law, my Barnabas.

March is International Women’s Month!  It is my hope that you will join me over the course of the rest of March in celebrating the women who have had a significant role in influencing me.  I will post daily blog-posts — some of these posts will be from me talking about the women who have had a significant role in influencing me and some of the posts will be from these women themselves, childhood friends, mentors, teachers, co-workers, etc.  

My hope is that this series, “Celebrating Women,” will accomplish three things:  

  1. to serve in a small way as a “Thank You” to all the women who have influenced me
  2.  that you will gain wisdom from those who have spoken wisdom into my life
  3. that it will serve as a reminder to say thank you and to recognize all the amazing women in your one life

Click here to see all of the posts related to “Celebrating Women.”

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