"Just a few stamps, please.”

written by Jimmy Newkirk, Associate Pastor (January 21, 2024)

"Just a few stamps, please." Mrs. Nell Strickland didn't ask for much, but that's how she would answer the question when asked if she needed anything. "Just a few stamps." On occasion, she might hesitatingly add, " … and maybe some writing paper and envelopes." 


I never knew Mrs. Nell to be well. My earliest memories of her were in a nursing home, mostly confined to her chair. I know nothing of her family. I don't know what jobs or skills she may have had. She's been with the Lord for close to 40 years now, but my memories of her are beautiful and lasting.


Mrs. Nell wasn't physically able to do much. But she could pray. And she could write. And she could encourage. And she did just that. She wrote letters sharing little verses of scripture and words of encouragement, bathed in prayer. She wrote to everyone she could think of, including me even though I was at least 60 years her junior. She didn’t spend her money on herself; she bought stationary.


She had every reason to be idle and many reasons to complain, but she didn't. She took seriously the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and 16-18, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing … Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.“


“Everyone can do something. I can write and I can pray”, Mrs. Nell would say softly.  But she did far more than that. Her simple letters of encouragement have left a legacy, engraved in the memory of those she touched, even now some decades later. 


In humble obedience, her acts of service and positive words of encouragement influenced others to do the same and a church letter writing ministry was begun. The potential impact of her encouragement and her prayers multiplied by countless fellow believers who followed her path of influence is without measure. And who will ever know the impact of her petitions before a loving God. Her life was a living example of the widow in Luke 21:1-4 giving her last mite to the offering. Mrs. Nell gave all she had and blessed generations as a result.


May we all live as Mrs. Nell, devoting our life to prayer, to encouragement, and giving all we have to build up the Kingdom of God.