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  • Amy Cate Smith

Six Challenges From Virginia Thompson

I walked into the church I grew up in, into the room I had children’s church every Sunday. It smelled the same, it looked the same, but today one of the best teachers I know taught Sunday school in this beautiful room for the last time. My grandmother walked right to the front row where I sat with my grandparents every Sunday for two years not that long ago. I sat in the third seat, just like always and my grandmother motioned for me to sit “there.” There. Where my granddad sits. I felt a rush of emotions come to me and then Virginia Thompson walked in. I definitely could not hold it in. The rush. I didnt realize how hard it would be. It took me back to the first time I heard her speak.

She had a cage. I thought she was crazy. She talked about our lives with Christ and without Christ. We can live in the cage, “free” according to the world but enslaved by sin. Or we can live with Christ, “caged” by righteous according to the world but freed by Grace! Yes she was crazy, but boy is she incredible. She came right up to me when she got done praying and the impact that had on me shapes me to this day. That she would speak to me. She challenges me to speak to others. To people I don’t know. No matter how I feel or how awkward it is for me.. You never know how you will bless someone just by speaking.

“People are intensely lonely, even Christians- huddled up, never opening to others and never sharing life. It’s like living in a monastery in their own mind. The New Testament Biblical model is that we are messy mortals who love Jesus, doing life together, bumping into each other, forgiving each other, building each other up, caring for and serving each other. We are called to love with a startling, Christ-like love. If the world can see us living with that kind of love, Jesus said it would be like a billboard drawing the world to Him.” – Virginia Thompson

She spent the next several months pouring into me, meeting with me and somewhat frankly telling me what to do with Biblical Grace and Truth. She taught me to grow where I am. She challenged me to find a college ministry in Auburn where I could grow with believers my age. Because of her, I went on a mission trip with 300+ college students I had never met in my life. That mission trip changed my life and I met some of the best friends I could have imagined. Friends who shaped my journey immensely. With two of those friends and a Bible study based on what Mrs. Virginia was teaching me in Jonah, the idea of a middle school Bible study emerged in my heart and mind on the grass in front of Jordan-Hare. She challenges me to get out of my comfort zone, because God has bigger plans for me. Oh have I learned that over and over.

“We all need each other. You can’t be a “Lone-Ranger Christian.” The body of Christ doesn’t function like that. Every page of the New Testament confirms that we need each other to do this life well.” – Virginia Thompson

There are so many things about my life that I wouldn’t have learned, wouldn’t have done, wouldn’t have experienced if it hadn’t been for the push of Virginia Thompson. Including Girl Talk. Including moving home and starting full time ministry. She challenges me to go, do, be, experience all that Jesus has for my life and to not be afraid, but to BELIEVE. 

She was the first person I told about the calling I felt on my life to leave Auburn and enter into whatever God had for me in ministry and she was so proud of me. Her excitement and beaming pride made me excited and truly made me believe in myself for the first time in my life. She is the teacher God used in my life to put the burning desire of teaching in me. I wish I could teach as incredible as she does! She challenges me to study the Word, get into the Word, wear the Word, know the Word and live the Word. We cannot experience the life God has for us if we do not surrender it to Him. She taught me through the most important time in my life- starting ministry.

“To grow in Christ you must plant deep roots in God’s Word. You will be surprised what happens when you grow deep into God’s Word. You will begin to grow into the likeness of Christ and experience the life He created you to have!” -Virginia Thompson

I remember the first time I sat down with her one on one and she told me my entire life before I could tell her myself. She shared with me the importance of memorizing Philippians 4:8 and not only memorizing it but repeating it every morning and every night. It is my biggest obstacle and to this day I think of her every time I read the verse. She has challenged me to live one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned.. think about such things. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things.”

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Mrs. Virginia, your love for Christ is contagious and challenging! You challenge me to love Jesus, my Lord and Savior and everything good in my life! You’re an incredible teacher and I am so thankful I got to hear you teach for [what you think is] the last time! I love that you are crazy, we never know what you’re going to say but it always changes my life and I love that you always teach with your shoes off! Six challenges you’ve been to me for the six years you and Dr. Tim have blessed this city and Frazer. Dadeville is getting a package deal with their new pastor and I can’t wait to come see y’all for Sundays at the lake! I love you!

“Jesus Christ is not interested in us if we’re only doing it for Him cause we ought to, cause we should, because it’s a habit, because it makes my friends feel better about me, I feel better about myself I guess if I go. Jesus Christ is not interested in your ought to or your have to. Do you know what He wants from you? He wants your love, He wants you to want to love Him.” -Virginia Thompson

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