"Who Can Find a Virtuous Wife?"

It was on November 25, 1992 that Faulkner University honored the three men who were greatly involved in the beginning of the Montgomery Bible School which became Alabama Christian College and later Faulkner University. They were Leonard Johnson, Rex A. Turner, Sr. and Joe Ben Greer. I was in attendance on this memorable occasion and took pictures of these men. One picture that I took also included the wives of two of the gentlemen. They were Bernice Johnson and Opal Turner. Sister Winnie Bell Greer had died earlier. She and brother Greer were on their way to the Georgia Road congregation in Elmore County on Sunday, November 29, 1987 when they were involved in an automobile accident. Sister Greer died in the accident and brother Greer was injured.

It was my pleasure and privilege to have known these three Christian ladies. I first met sister Greer when I was in the 8th grade at the old Montgomery Bible School in 1948. She and brother Greer lived on their farm near where the Tallapoosa and Coosa Rivers combine to form the Alabama River. Brother Joe called his dear wife “Sweetie Face” and that really described this gentle and gracious lady. She was a homemaker and a wonderful mother and a lovely wife. She spent many of her years in the care of their oldest son ‘little Joe’ who demanded much of her time due to his physical infirmity. But this mother of love never complained but accepted the responsibility with grace. For some unknown reason to me sister Greer called me “Junior”. She was in full harmony with brother Greer in the support of Christian education and especially Montgomery Bible School/College/Alabama Christian College. Sister Greer influenced the lives of so many people with her Christ-like acts of kindness. She was 77 years old at the time of her death but her memory lingers in the hearts of those who knew her. During the funeral service for sister Greer her oldest Son, Beau, spoke these words, “She was an angel sent down to earth…” and that about summarizes the life of this good woman.

Sister Opal Turner sacrificed much in order to become qualified to teach on the college level. She also sacrificed in order for Montgomery Bible School/College, Alabama Christian College, Faulkner University to become a reality and to exist today. There are many ladies who were students of hers and learned much about ‘homemaking’ and being a worthy wife and mother. Sister Turner was the ‘wind beneath the wings’ of her college president/husband. She was very generous in her giving monetarily to the college she loved so dearly. Unless one could stand where she stood, we cannot know the heartaches and discouragement she endured during those years when money was in short supply for the small college on Ann Street and later on the new campus on the Atlanta Highway. She helped to make the Amridge University campus on Taylor Road possible by her liberal contribution. Her home was where the graduates and their families could come each year to a reception. Her hospitality was known far and wide. Sister Turner was indeed a very loveable person and a gracious lady. She and brother Turner suffered much in the loss of their oldest child, Jackie, in 1974. Brother and sister Turner had been married for sixty three years. Sister Turner died on July 24, 1995 while sitting on a couch in the den. Beside her was an open Bible. Her funeral was conducted on Wednesday, July 26, 1995. I was privileged to have been one of the speakers. One of the statements I made about this sweet lady was “Sister Turner was a loving wife, a godly mother, a devoted homemaker, educator, a loyal friend and a person of dignity.”

When I think of sister Bernice Johnson I am reminded of the passage of scripture found in the book of Ruth 1:16, 17 when Ruth said to Naomi, her mother-in-law: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go…” Sister Johnson was married to a gospel preacher and an educator and where his profession determined his destiny, she was willing to go. Places like Montgomery, Chattanooga, Oklahoma City, Nigeria, Africa and Henderson, Tennessee were among some of the locations that found this family living while brother Johnson was busily engaged in teaching and preaching. She was a graduate of Harding University and in the beginning years of Montgomery Bible College she taught Home Economics. But, for the most part she remained a homemaker and cared for their five children. She also sacrificed much during the lean years while brother Johnson taught at Montgomery Bible College/Alabama Christian College. I remember well her sweet personality and I saw her often because I threw papers for brother Johnson and I was permitted to drive their 1951 Kaiser automobile on the route. Sister Johnson is now ninety-nine years old and lives with her daughter Marilyn Perry and husband in Moulton, Alabama. Her family would certainly “rise up and call her blessed” (Proverbs 31:28).

Many have been the times when brethren Greer, Johnson and Turner have been praised for their dedication and commitment in the field of Christian education but we should never forget these devoted women/wives who gave so much of themselves to the same worthy cause.


Sheila said...

They all sound like wonderful women. Such great role models!

Sharon said...

Aw... what precious thoughts that you shared concerning the pillars of Alabama Christian! Each of them showed Christ all through their lives. Thank you, especially, for remembering my own grandparents. What a great heritage I've been blessed with. I often think of the verse that says "Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands" (Deut 7:9). And I often wonder at how blessed I am because of their faithfulness and love to the God that we serve. What incredible footsteps I have had to follow after... because they walked in the footsteps of Jesus. Thank you for honoring them and loving them and all the work that you and your wife have put into the Kingdom. What a thrill to serve our Savior! He does give Life to the abundance! There is no other Life, but His!