For the last five years I have had the honor of being the pastor of a pretty amazing church. There are so many folks that the Lord has blessed our church with. One of those folks has been Jeff Jeffries.
Jeff was on the PNC that called me to come to Littlerock to serve as the church’s pastor. I remember one of my first visits to the Littlerock church was a lunch that Jeff hosted at his house. For a cool dude Jeff had the gift of hospitality. When Bible study was on Thursday evenings Jeff would play host. He had everything set up just in time for folks to arrive. Jeff loved cooking his three bean salad. Every pot luck when Jeff was well, you could count on seeing his three bean salad.
When it was Jeff’s turn to help Gail with the food bank, Jeff would be at the church putting boxes together and setting up the fellowship hall for the food bank. When we renovated the church campus, Jeff was one of the big advocates for investing in the current church facility as opposed to building a new church at the 87th Street property. He was one of the folks who helped contribute not just his finances, but his muscle as well to helping with the new landscaping. He put in almost all of the rail road ties that currently are laid around the front and side of the church that enclose our landscaping. Jeff helped put the fence up that encloses the back of the church as well. I even remember one day Jeff and I walking around the church and how he had talked about wanting to put a paved ramp at the front entrance to the church.
When I’d ever see Jeff either at church or during the week, Jeff’s first words were, “how you doing boss?” Jeff and I often had a cup of coffee at church when he’d finally take a break from whatever he was doing in helping with the food bank. Jeff would tell me stories about his time working for Anheuser Bush in Van Nuys and would tell me stories of the brewery and the old “Bush Gardens.” I remember sharing with him that I remember being a kid when my dad would take my brothers and me to Bush Gardens. I also remember telling him that my dad loved Budweiser beer.
I remember Jeff going to Israel with his friends. He loved going to the Holy Lands. Told me tons of stories. He was excited to hear that I had a chance to go to the Holy Lands myself a couple of years ago. My family had taken a trip recently overseas and he’d always share that he was concerned for them and wanted to make sure they’d be safe. He’d even shed a tear for them.
Jeff had a heart for the church. He loved everyone he met. He always had something nice to say and never had a bad thing to say about anyone. Jeff really loved our church.
Just a couple of years ago Jeff had a chance to participate in one of our Grief Share groups. It was a group I know the Lord wanted Jeff to be part of and I am certain the Lord used for him to process his feelings of loss over the death of his wife several years ago. He loved his wife. Always shed a tear when he told me the story of losing his wife. He often expressed feelings of sadness, but I know for certain Jeff knew that she was with the Lord and that Jeff was continually working through his issues of grief one day at a time. He loved his children as well. Would tell me stories about how he built his house in Littlerock and how he’d drive up on the weekends to finish it. Jeff loved lived living in Littlerock and raising his kids in Littlerock.
I am certain Jeff knew the Lord. He had a heart for those who didn’t know Christ. Just recently I over heard one of his grandkids reminiscing about how “Grandpa” would always invite the family to church. I smiled when I over heard this, thinking to myself how cool it was, that this big ol’ dude really had experienced the love of God in such a way that he really wanted his family to experience it as well.
He loved his friends, his family, his church, and I knew he loved his friend Wilma. When Jeff had gone into surgery, I had the chance to spend some time with him and Wilma. Without a doubt Wilma loved her friend Jeff. I remember going in to pray with Jeff and Wilma before his surgery. Jeff really had hoped the surgery would ease his back pine. I never knew it would be the last time we’d talk to Jeff.
I will miss Jeff and seeing him sit in his usual seat in the sanctuary. I will miss hearing him say, “how you doing boss?”
I smile to think that the first thing the Lord heard Jeff say as he arrived home was…
“How you doing boss?”
Lord bless you Jeff!
This Thursday we will say goodbye to Jeff. We will celebrate the life he had on this earth but we will also celebrate the life he now has with the risen Lord.