Of all the riches that God has given me, one of the most prized is my godly heritage! Although both my paternal and maternal grandparents were born-again believers, my maternal grandmother and her family have had the most tangible spiritual effect on our family and my life personally.
My grandmother, Oneeta Chadwell Dayberry, was a woman of God who walked in faith and purity. Although for many years her husband was not a believer, she had a remarkable influence on her six daughters. My mother is the fifth of those girls. Ironically, all the six girls admired and respected their mother, but none of them had made a profession of faith until my mother, at age 15, became a Christian. Soon the other Dayberry Sisters followed and, in the years that followed, four of them (along with their pastor’s daughter) formed a gospel singing group, The Starlet Quintet.
My mother met my dad when, as a young evangelist, he came to her church for a revival and she was the church pianist. They dated for three years and then married. All of this was over 60 years ago. My grandma, Oneeta Dayberry, died at a very early age. She went to heaven when she was younger than I am now. She did live to see her girls grow up, serve The Lord, marry, and have children. And she lived to see the birth of her 16 grandchildren. But she never saw any of those grandchildren grow to adulthood. So, although most of those grandchildren have memories of her during those years when we were young children, we lost her when we were very young.
I often think of Grandma Dayberry when I think of our family. Grandma was a Pentecostal believer who loved the ministry so much! She died before she saw the fulfilment of a promise that was in every home that bore children. In my generation of our family there are nine Pentecostal preachers/ministries out of 15 children that lived to adulthood. And the following generation includes scores of great-grandchildren who are in Christian ministry. Nearly every child born into our family, and there are many, is a professing Christian. The influence of godly parents and grandparents cannot be overrated, but there is no way to evaluate the influence of the single, committed life of one godly mother, Oneeta Chadwell Dayberry, who poured her life into her children and grandchildren and passed her love for God down to them.
Just this week, many of our family met together to honor the memories of our grandparents, Roy and Oneeta Dayberry, and to decorate their graves. But the greatest honor to them was the gathering of their remaining children and their spouses, who range in age from 80-94. There is no greater testimony to a life well-lived than those that endeavor to follow in those footsteps that never led them astray.
It was a privilege to meet again with my mother’s sisters and her brothers-in-law for one more time. And we were reminded again that nothing is more valuable than family….and a godly heritage.