By Bette Wolfgang
In a society which defines a “worthy woman” as one who succeeds in the business world or in intellectual circles, there has lived a woman perfectly depicting the Biblical description of a worthy woman. In fact, she is one of many thousands of unheralded Christian women who have gone quietly about their lives as Christians without expecting special recognition. But this one may serve as an example and an encouragement to many Christian women.
Martha Jane Walls Orgain was born on December 1, 1928, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Lonnie Allen and Anna Clara Hipp Walls. When the railroad transferred the father to Dickson, Tennessee, the family moved to the small town 40 miles west of Nashville. With the teaching and guidance of her Christian parents, Martha Jane was baptized at an early age. At 17, shortly after her graduation from Dickson High School, she married Donald Harrison Orgain on May 13, 1946. As a result of her influence and teaching, he was converted to Christ.
As a new wife, Martha Jane worked outside the home, but as the family expanded with the births of a daughter, Annette, and a son, Pat, she quit her job to devote her full attention to her family.
Always active in the Lord’s work, she not only taught her children to love the Lord, but she also taught in the Bible class program in the church and was partially responsible for the conversion of her sister-in-law, Peggy Orgain, and many others. In the case of a death in the church, she was always first to arrive with food and comfort for the bereaved family. She went quietly about visiting and helping the sick and the elderly.
When her children reached adulthood, she continued her help and support. When her daughter gave birth to twins, Martha Jane stretched forth her helping hands to make the difference between a difficult situation and a joyful one. She also worked again on a part-time basis, but continued helping with her seven grandchildren when she was needed, always maintaining that delicate balance of loving supportiveness without meddling interference.
Donald Orgain is postmaster in Dickson, and when he mentioned that Monday was his hardest day, Martha Jane cheerfully made it a point always to be home with a hot meal waiting for him at lunchtime. He, on the other hand, wanted her to have whatever she wanted, and made the enviable statement any wife would love to hear from her husband that “when the Lord made Martha Jane, the mold was broken.”
In 1969, Martha Jane Orgain was diagnosed as having lymphosarcoma, or cancer of the lymph glands. After having a tumor removed from her abdomen and two other operations, she underwent chemotherapy. Even though the treatments made her very sick, she never complained or even mentioned the nausea and vomiting.
She called together the members of her family and calmly stated that they would live each day to the fullest and not discuss her condition. Apparently, they were very successful in carrying out her wishes since a happier, closer family could not be found. They reserved Sundays for worshiping the Lord and for being together. They were always close, but in a joyful attitude and not because of the sorrow that they knew would probably come.
And it did come, swiftly and decisively. After a seven year remission, Martha Jane became ill on Thursday, April 5, 1979, with what seemed to be a stomach virus. The next day, she was rushed to a Nashville hospital and placed in intensive care. She died on Monday, April 9.
Though many things may be said of this Christian woman, the wise man of Proverbs 31 has already stated it best thousands of years before this particular worthy woman lived:
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life:
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
She is like the merchant ships; she bringeth food from afar.
She riseth up while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household and a portion to her maidens.
She considereth a field and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
Strength andhonor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also and he praiselh her.
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellent them all.
Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
In this time of “liberation” for women, Martha Jane Orgain was a superlative example of liberation. She was totally liberated in Christ. She found joy and happiness in His service and in her family. She would have laughed at the idea that she was oppressed or suppressed in her chosen role. In fact, she laughed often, and her heart was at peace.
She is very much missed by her family and by the church at Oak Avenue in Dickson. But even through her death, she is teaching us to live as the Lord has said each day at a time, for Him. And she is, even now, an encouragement and an example of the hope we have in Christ Jesus.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 36, pp. 586-587
September 13, 1979