Summary: This is a eulogy for a woman who loved the Lord, was active in the life of the church, and made a difference in the lives of others.
Homegoing Service—Juanita Conners 7/14/2014
We don’t often recognize it, but each one of us was in the hands of God, before we were born. The Scriptures tell us in Psalms 139 Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV) 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Not a single one of us was in our Mother’s womb worrying about what to do next. God took care of all that. If God was working with us, before we were born, why is it strange to think God won’t be there after we die. God has a plan for each of us, and part of that plan is for us to get to know how much God loves through coming to know God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
There is a book in the Bible called Hebrews. In Chapter 11, they list the names of people who are in the faith Hall of Fame. All of the people listed there, lived their lives with the expectation that they would see God face to face in the end. The interesting thing about that chapter is that some people had great faith to see God intervene in their lives and outstanding miracles happened. Others in that chapter had great faith, but instead of seeing miracles we find Hebrews 11:35-40 (NIV)
“ Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- 38 the world was not worthy of them.
They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
The key to understanding who Jaunita Conners really was is to know that she put her hope in the reality that Jesus Christ died for her sins and then rose from the dead so that she could have a living relationship with Him. Christ was alive in Juanita’s life and she allowed him, to live in her, so that we could be blessed. Her life was not always easy, but her testimony was the Psalm 27:1 (NIV) The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid? Let’s take a moment and go back into time to see what God was up to.
God’s love often comes to us through the gift of people. On August 2nd 1952, God decided that it was time for Mary Conner to stop crying out in labor pains and to bring forth the gift of Juanita. She was the fourth child to come out the womb. Mary may have been shouting Hallelujah it was done, but little did she know at the time, there were still eight more on the way down the line.
Now I can tell you this, not too black families born in Cleveland with eight children had a lot of extra money in the bank. The Connors were not called the Rockefellers of Glenville. But what they didn’t have in the bank, they did have in their hearts, in that they learned to love each other. When a mother has 8 kids, at some point the first group is going to have a role in helping to raise the last group that comes along.
I am told that Juanita took her role seriously in helping her younger brothers and sisters by demonstrating great administrative skills which they did not appreciate. They simply saw her as being bossy. Little did they know that God was using them to train and to prepare Juanita to one day help lead a nation by using those some administrative skills in the service of one of our great congressional leaders, former congressman Stokes.
I am told that Juanita was a very responsible child in that she wanted to make sure her parents had the facts in order to make wise parenting decisions. When something happened, Jaunita was the first to tell so that she did not get a whipping for something that the others were clearly responsible for. On one occasion, the girls missed curfew, by not being on the porch before the sun went down. Their father came home to catch them in this predicament. Juanita made a mad dash to the bathroom and got in the bathtub to separate herself from the disobedience of the others. It might have worked, except she forgot to take off her clothes while sitting in the tub.