Wilkerson V. Jones would’ve turned 100 this coming July 4th. He was well known all over Mobile, Ala. It seemed as if he knew everybody and everybody knew him.
He is a member of the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame, was active in his church, and was tall, handsome and distinguished. A southern gentleman in every way, married to the same woman for well over half a century, and together with Ms. Juanita, they raised nine children.
I had few personal encouragers like Mr. Jones. It seemed as if no one was more interested in the church I was pastoring in Tennessee than this man in Alabama. He read everything I wrote and provided feedback, whether I asked for it or not. He examined every word of the church newsletter and even called me one day and asked what “bulk rate” meant.
One thing I always admired about Wilkerson was that he was the daddy to his kids that he never had. He never had a mother either. Wilkerson grew up in a boys home (orphanage) and by God’s grace and direction, survived WWII, became a determined and very good man. He went home to be with the Lord in his 80s.
Wilkerson’s story is special, but it is not unique. Unfortunately we have so many – too many – girls and boys across our state that share a tragedy of not having a loving family. On any given day there are thousands of Tennessee children either in or needing foster care.
Wilkerson’s story is one of the reasons I deeply appreciate the residential and foster care provided by Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes. There are five residential locations stretching from Chattanooga to Millington, and foster care is coordinated through its Caring Community Ministries. The TBCH works with local churches to bring a Christian witness into the lives of children who may never experience God’s love any other way. In fact, it is because of the TBCH’s commitment to Christian values that it does not accept government funding in any way. As a result the TBCH is dependent on giving through the Cooperative Program, individuals, churches, estate bequests, trust funds and investments and endowments.
Dr. Greg McCoy, president and treasurer at TBCH, and his staff provide strategic leadership and compassionate care in serving children while working with our network of TBC churches. I believe strongly in the direction the TBCH is heading and in the very practical ministry it offers. I’m especially appreciative that Greg and the entire staff never stray from a desire to see children cared for and to come to know Jesus. That’s why I feel comfortable in asking you to consider making a contribution this Sunday to the Mother’s Day Offering for Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes. Give generously, and know that you are serving Tennessee’s disenfranchised children in tangible ways. And you never know who the next Mr. Jones might be. You can either give through your church or online through the TBCH’s website at tennesseechildren.org and select “Donate.”
Oh, and there is one more reason I think so highly of Wilkerson and what he did for me. He allowed me to marry his daughter, Jeanne. It is with great joy that we look forward to giving to the TBCH Mother’s Day Offering in honor of his 100th birthday. I hope you’ll join us.
It is a joy to be with you on this journey.