Eulogy to Wayne Francis: The Days of Our Years
Dixon Springs, Tennessee
"The days of our years are three score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength, labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away" (Psa. 90:10). "For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (Jas. 4:14).
These quotations from the Old Testament and the New bring sharply into focus the brevity of human life. No man can read such words with any degree of comprehension without realizing how swift and how certain is the approach of death for everyone of us. All our earthly hopes and ambitions, our plans, our dreams, and fondest expectations will finally come to rest beneath a little mound of dirt over which the green grass will grow for centuries after we have returned to the elements. How futile and how silly to think we can build anything that will endure on this earth!
I found the above paragraph in an article written several years ago, and yet as I read it I could not help but notice how it characterized my friend and brother in the Lord who was taken from this life. Wayne Francis was, in every sense of the word, a plain man, a man who was down-to-earth and who knew of the futility of life. Wayne Francis was a man of faith. I would like to dedicate this article to Wayne and his family.
I met Wayne in 1983 after relocating from Columbia to Murfreesboro. We attended church services together and although I had met him I did not really get acquainted with him until 1985 when I had an aneurysm that would allow Wayne and me to become the best of friends. After my surgery this man spent hours of time calling me on the phone and giving words of encouragement. While recovering from my illness I would go visit him at work or go on an errand with him, the whole time talking of things of spiritual value. Our lives, those of my family and me, was made more bearable the next several months mainly by this man's concern for others. I would like to tell of some of the things that made Wayne Francis what he was.
Faith and love for God. Wayne was a man who had an unfeigned love and zeal for the Lord and was a faithful member of the body of Christ for many years. He served as a deacon for the University Heights church and always participated in Bible classes and every phase and function of the local church. Wayne spent much time and used his talents in preparation of Bible class materials that still are used by the brethren in Murfreesboro. This writer has several of the study texts that were put together on a number of the Old Testament books that meant a great deal to me then, and will mean even more to me now than ever since my brother is gone.
Love for his family. Wayne was a devoted husband and father. One of the first comments I heard about him was how he loved his wife, Janette. I visited with this family many times and was always welcomed and knew that I was among friends. Wayne and Janette were blessed with two children, Rebekah and Terry, who are in the Lord's church because of the influence that surrounded them all their lives. I recall sitting at home one evening when the phone began to ring. Terry wanted to be baptized into Christ and Wayne wanted me and another friend to be with them at this special time in their lives and in the life of Terry. Rebekah is today attending Florida College and is a very fine Christian lady. Wayne was devoted to his wife and children but he continued to remember his mother, a widow, and Janette's parents. Their activities for the day included checking on all of the family. When Wayne and Janette found out that they were going to relocate, Mrs. Francis and the Ralphs (Janette's parents), sold their respective houses and moved to Elizabethton also. Thus we see how our brother was committed to his family.
His love for his fellow man. This world has lost a friend in that Wayne was always interested in people. I recall his attitude in wanting to set the proper example. He always was concerned that he was not doing enough and realized the influence he had on those about him. We had many conversations of concern over those who were outside the body of Christ, or those within the church who were not living as they should. Thus, we see this man of God, who had his shortcomings and peculiarities, but a man who stood by his convictions, and had a trusting confidence in the Savior. He loved God, his family and his fellow man.
When I arrived at the funeral home on Sunday afternoon I saw brethren from so many different congregations. They had services on Saturday in the town where Wayne was living and I am confident that the same love and concern was expressed to the family there. In the Revelation letter John writes, "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them" (Rev. 14:13). Wayne was fifty-one years old, a man with much life left to live. His works are following him today as so many feel the sadness and loneliness without him. We pray for his family and hope that as Wayne reached out to others, we will incorporate into our lives that same compassion. A large crowd attended the memorial service in Elizabethton, TN the afternoon of February 9. Congregational singing was led by Greg Nelson, and Tom Wheeler spoke words of comfort and encouragement. Bob Buchanon spoke beautiful comforting words at the short graveside service February 11. Wayne's body was laid to rest near Gamaliel, Kentucky, approximately 40 miles from Dixon Springs. I rode to the funeral home reminiscing about all of the good times and bad that we struggled through. It has been some time since I had talked to Wayne. Sheila and I had planned many times to call them and see how things were going for them. Let us live everyday upon this earth in the realization that today could be the last here for us, or those that we love. If we would do so, I am confident that we would all spend more time encouraging one another and expressing to one another our love that we have.
To you who are not a Christian we urge you to recognize the shortness of this life and the promise of the judgment day. I close with Paul's words to the Thessalonians, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which have died, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them which die in Jesus will God bring with him" (1 Thess. 4:13-14).
Wayne and Janette knew Christians everywhere. Their home was a great example of what a hospitable home should be. Wayne was killed instantly in a car wreck. Janette and the children can still use words of friendship and encouragement. You may contact Janette at Rt. 11, Box 430, Elizabethton, TN 37643. Phone 615-543-7661.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 10, pp. 308-309