“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”-Ecclesiastes 3:1
In the early summer of 2007 my family and I were blessed to have been joined to a wonderful church family while living in Juneau, AK. Many of the believers and their families left lasting impressions on us that cause us to smile at the mere mention of their names. The Lord used my time pastoring that small congregation to teach me many important lessons; some were in chastising and others in edification that the ministry He called me to might bring Him honor. Of all those who were members in that church, one couple ended up being the most memorable: Otto and Verma Whitfield.
Otto was one of the first people to greet us when we first entered the doors of that church. When we first saw him he was walking with the assistance of a cane and struggling to hold himself up yet was able to express his extreme pleasure in seeing our family. Sometime later he would injure himself and be confined to a wheelchair yet able to wheel himself around with almost no assistance. I can still picture him rolling into the sanctuary to his usual spot where we had removed a chair for him to sit beside his wife during the service.
We were witness to Otto going through ups and downs during our three years there. We were also witness to the tireless efforts of his wife, Verma, in assisting him in every way imaginable. Her dedication to her husband was a constant reminder to us of the faithfulness and dedication of God to us and how it is to be reflected in marriage. Even though she was tired and worn from her care of him I never heard her complain.
Often times you would find Otto in the local hospital undergoing dialysis. He would return home tired from the procedure and his wife would tell us that it would often take days for him to fully recover. Even with this and the snowy/rainy weather of Juneau, Otto was almost never absent during the church services. If the doors were open both he and his wife would be there.
While he was weary from the treatments he regularly admitted he believed God had not called him home yet because there was work for him to do here.
Yesterday afternoon around 5:30 pm Alaska Standard Time, Otto entered into glory as His Lord called him home upon finishing his work on Earth.
He now dances on streets of gold where no ailment or physical limitation holds him back any longer. I am humbled to have known him this side of Heaven and look forward to being reunited with him again one day as we eternally worship our King. We love and miss you but know that you would not for a moment give up your time in the presence of Christ for anything. Thank you Otto for the joy you brought my children, my wife, and myself. Thank you for a true example of perseverance through pain and the endurance that I can only pray I will exhibit in my latter years. May God continue to raise up such men as yourself to lead and inspire continuing generations of believers for His glory.
Adam and family