A Diamond in the Rough

On Tuesday, April 16, 2013, our mission, our area, and my family, lost a pillar of faith and a great prayer warrior. Greta Wade, at the young age of 81, passed away and is now speaking face to face with Jesus the same conversations she has been having for years on our behalf.

Six years ago, as I stood in line at Atlanta Bread Company in Peachtree City, Ga., this older lady turned around, noticed my Young Life shirt, and said, “Young Life?”  My initial response is usually, “Were you involved with Young Life in high school?” But to be honest, I paused and quickly began to calculate how old someone would be today who would have been a high schooler in the ’40s. Taking a chance, I asked, “Were you involved with Young Life in high school?” A beautiful smile came over her face as she passionately spoke, “Yes! I loved Young Life. We used to have Young Life club in my house. How could I ever forget my Young Life leader, Mitchy.” Wondering if she was speaking of Bob Mitchell, I leaned in even more and said, “Mitchy?” In her sweet voice, she said, “Oh, what was Mitchy’s name? Ah, Bob Mitchell. We all loved him so much.” 

Realizing I found a diamond in the rough, I asked if we could continue our conversation over coffee. I wish you were there to hear her tell the stories of Star Ranch and her camp speaker, Jim Rayburn. How he spoke of Jesus in terms she could understand. Then hearing her say, “It was at Star Ranch that I committed to serving the Lord forever.” Those words ring in my ears and my heart even today.

Forever. You see, that’s exactly how long Greta Wade served the Lord. 

Like any good Young Life staff person would do, I invited her to speak at our banquet three weeks later. We were all surprised to read through the commitment cards at the end of the night and find she checked the box saying she was interested in joining committee. Who can say no to that? Greta began serving on committee as our prayer coordinator and our area has never been the same. If I’m really honest, my life has never been the same. 

Do you know what it’s like to walk in someone’s house and see your name in their prayer journal, covered in Scripture, and saturated in prayer? What about your wife’s name? Your children? She, and her mother (who, as my daughter says, is “over a century years old”), cried out to Jesus on behalf of teenagers in our community, families on our committee, teachers, administrators, and staff because they believe the greatest work of our mission is prayer. I have never known prayer like this before.

Greta could be spotted any week in jeans and a T-shirt at Young Life club, praying over leaders and kids at every bus send-off for camp, singing and playing with our Capernaum friends, making treats for leaders, attending summer camp as an adult guest, joining us at Family Camp, speaking to 300 staff at Assigned Team Training, and even writing thank you notes to donors.  And on my best weeks, she would be sitting across from me over a cup of coffee, reminding me what we are doing in this mission continues to make an eternal difference in the lives of teenagers.

On her final night here, sweet Greta stood on the stage at the Young Life Fayette County banquet, encouraged us with a story, prayed over the staff, and reminded us to keep telling teenagers about Jesus in terms they can understand. Greta kept her commitment to serve the Lord forever.​