(Johnie with Abigail & Esther Simpson)

On Sunday night, August 14, the church family said good-bye to Johnie Osborne, who has moved to Pennsylvania. A reception, hosted by her family—Pastor Nate Osborne, Jill, and their daughters, Hannah and Sarah; one of Johnie’s daughters, LuAnna Chittock; and Johnie’s other daughter-in-law, Janet Osborne—followed the evening communion service.

(Jill Osborne, Janet Osborne, Johnie, & LuAnna Chittock)

The fellowship hall was crowded and noisy as people lined up to have their photos taken with Johnie, who is not just the pastor’s mother but a beloved part of the Faith family. Although the event may have been tiring, Johnie never lost her signature smile.

Jill Osborne says she will put the photos taken Sunday night into an album “so Johnie can flip through and see all the familiar faces any time she wants.” Jill says, “We are thankful that she can go to a very nice apartment with good care and be very near to two of her daughters and lots of friends and church family from her past life.” She adds, “A note of thanks—even though our family hosted the reception, I had help from Beth Brown and a few other ladies who helped serve the cake and punch.”

(Johnie with David & Georgia Stickney)

Johnie had a significant role at Faith as a prayer warrior and encourager. Doris Tassell and Johnie have a unique relationship in that each is the other’s child’s mother-in-law (or more simply, Mrs. Tassell is Jill’s mother), and the two mothers served together praying for others. Mrs. Tassell says:

Johnie is a prayer warrior on her own and has been for years. She spends time at home in prayer for people. She also was part of the prayer group for the USA missionaries for several years. She never missed unless for some reason she was sick, which was seldom. Also, she was on the missions committee for several years. While she was on it, we not only took care of business concerning the missionaries that our church supports plus the Faith’s 100, but we also had prayer time for them. So she was involved with that as well.

While many have benefited from Johnie’s intercessory prayer, Jill says, “Her main ministry was sending cards. She touched a lot of lives through cards.” Perhaps those who felt her encouragement most are those who live far away from our Faith family, in particular our Faith’s 100 missionaries. Anora Totman says:

When electricity is intermittent, Internet unpredictable, and phone lines warbled, a handwritten note every month is a constant encouragement. For more than six years, Johnie’s letters have reminded us, even on the most dismal of days, that there are people across the ocean who love and pray for us. Her words were insightful and relevant, showing that she was paying attention to our communications as well. 

Her simple, consistent ministry to us both encouraged us and reminded us of the responsibility we have to those who have sent us. We cannot overstate our thanks to her.

It is a blessing for us that Johnie Osborne doesn’t have to live in Winter Haven to continue these vital ministries of prayer and encouragement.

Pastor Osborne will miss looking out at the congregation and seeing his mother in the first seat of the fourth row on the right side of the aisle. And the rest of us will miss Johnie’s gentle, smiling presence. We pray for God’s best on her as she transitions to a new place, makes new friends, and gets reacquainted with old ones. We know that her presence and ministry there will bless the people in Pennsylvania as they have blessed her family here at Faith.


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