When she opens her mouth to speak, her words betray her Boston roots (Lynn, MA, to be more specific). She’s feisty, strongly opinionated, full of God’s spirit and positive energy all packed in a medium-size frame. And did I mention that she just recently celebrated her 92nd year of life and she “ain’t tired yet”? Her quick mind and thought patterns will tire you out and if you can’t keep up with her, well, that’s your fault. She’s funny but the seasoned wisdom and grace shine through like piercing light. HAVING CHURCH’s conversation with Rev. Lew went something like this:
HC: Looking back, at what point did you realize that God was calling you to ministry?
REV. LEW: My goodness, it’s ALWAYS been there! From the time of my childhood, it’s been there, I’ve just been not heeding it! I’ve always, ALWAYS had visions and dreams, from my earliest days. I would have dreams about houses and I had dreams about every one of my children – before I had them and I’ve had 10.
HC: How many grandchildren and great-grand children do you have?
REV. LEW: (Waves the question off) Too many to count! I can’t tell you that. But when I was growing up, my friends all thought I was nutty because of the kinds of things that I would dream. I was born again over 30 years ago in Rock Church (VB). A friend of mine and I used to go for the free dinners that they had and one day an elderly, short (white) gentleman approached us and told me that he had a prophesy for my life, that I would become a “great woman of God”. I thought he had lost his mind. I had children to raise! A few years later, I heard a sermon where the female preacher said, “Get your house in order”. I knew that she was talking to me, I knew it. And I also knew that she was telling me that I had to be educated so I returned to school and got my GED. I had great teachers, great people who encouraged me and taught me so many things. I was the oldest graduate in my class. From that, I learned to become a reader and to this day I am a great reader, love books. (NOTE:This writer sees great evidence of this by a few copies of latest editions of books in her home).
God has always blessed me by surrounding me with great teachers and that’s how I’ve learned so much about Him and ministering to His people. There have been so many great pastors that I’ve learned from: Rev. Johnnie White of First Calvary; Rev. Cason of First Bapt., Campostella; Rev. Daniels of Enoch Bapt. Church; Rev. Askew of Community Church; Rev. Murray of First Bapt., Bute St.; Rev. Joseph Lee of Bank Street, the list goes on and on. Bishop Anthony Moses of Trinity Fellowship ordained me in August of 2011 and he was a real blessing to me. Some have taught me about patience and the importance of God’s timing, especially being a woman. Those like Rev. Askew taught me about the need to minister to those who are “outside” of our churches, those who are still God’s children but need us to go to them, where they are in order to bring them “in”. Some have taught me the importance of talking and listening to people, that there is a ministry in just talking and listening to people; others have taught me the importance of educating myself to the Word of God. Rev. Raymond Dean of Mt. Gilead encouraged me so much with that. I’m on my 25th Bible! So many have given me the freedom to be myself and to have God use me as He wishes. Not all are called to pastor churches but all are called to be used. I’ve learned that.
HC: Do you remember your first sermon and what it felt like to deliver it?
REV. LEW: Oh my God, it was awful, just awful! You know, when you’re young you think you know everything and you don’t! The title of it was “Guess Whose Coming to Dinner” ((Matt. 7:7) and it was at Bank Street. I had so much in that sermon, too many names, Shakespeare, too many quotes, you name the person, they were in that sermon.
HC: How many years have you been in ministry?
REV. LEW: (Takes a deep breath) Not counting the years that I rejected God’s call? I was a mother trying to raise 10 children. I would say over 30 years. I didn’t preach right away but I was ALWAYS active in church and in the community – you name the organization and I was probably a part of it. During those years, I didn’t realize or understand that God was molding me, forming me, shaping me. After my children grew up, I then saw what God was doing to me and for me by placing me in churches and surrounding me with those pastors who taught me so much and helped me to grow.
HC: Since you didn’t pastor a church, what form did ministry take in you?
REV. LEW: God has sent people to me to learn from and to help. I remember Rev. Arthur Taylor used to call me “reverend-sister-evangelist” Lew. He introduced me to the Tidewater Metro Baptist Ministers. I’ve grown in the fact that God has called me to the ministry of talking to people, encouraging people and giving of oneself. There is more to ministry than just preaching. When you begin in ministry, you’re so eager but you don’t know what you are doing but when you start caring and doing, it prompts others to do.
HC: For young women beginning in ministry, what 3 pieces of advice/ wisdom would you give them?
REV. LEW: Number 1: LISTEN TO THE ELDERS!!! You’re just beginning and you don’t know everything, even if you think you do! Number 2: Understand that there must be dignity and decorum in the pulpit! And that means how you dress and carry yourself. That does not mean that a woman can’t be fashionable! Wear longer dresses and you won’t need a kerchief over your knees! I can’t stand those kerchiefs and those big purses that so many of the young women bring into the pulpit. Somebody needs to do a class on helping these young women dress appropriately.
HC: Perhaps you?
REV. LEW: (Waves it off) Somebody! Or at least, they should pay closer attention to women of the church who do dress appropriately. The pulpit is not a place of defiance and doing what you want to do! They must learn that.
HC: And number 3?
REV. LEW: Young women must put God first! They must pay attention to God’s Word when it says, “For your Maker is your husband- the Lord Almighty is his name” (Isaiah 54:5). We grow to understand that we must practice righteousness; that righteousness must become our lifestyle! We serve God and we become a model for other people.”