Tribute to Francis Anderson

Dear Brethren,

This Countdown pays tribute to Francis Anderson, our brother in Christ who died June 27th, in Morris, Manitoba, Canada.  Tuesday morning, Francis skipped breakfast, drifted off to sleep at about 8:30, and without suffering or discomfort, died peacefully in his sleep at 2:30 in the afternoon.  He was born on May 26, 1918, making him 88 years old last month.  His worn-out heart valve could not carry the load any longer.  There will be a memorial service this coming Tuesday.  His body was cremated, but we will be with Francis again in the resurrection.

Francis Anderson was a husband, a father, a friend, and a brother in Jesus Christ.  He is survived by his wife, Becky Anderson, whom he loved all his life.  Francis and Miss Becky were married for 57 years, but he knew her for 80 years, having met her when he was only 8 years old!  On Dec 4, 1948, Francis married Miss Becky Dixon – Francis still remembered washing the car the day before their wedding.

He is also survived by three children, Barbara Shewchuk of Morris, De Etta Izes of Winnipeg, and John Anderson of Thunder Bay, Ontario.  Francis also left three grand-children and two great granddaughters.  He thought a great deal of and had great respect for family and friends, including a brother and cousins. 

Francis was always the first one to say "hello" on the teleconference each Sabbath after services.  We all looked forward to his cheery greeting.  Last Sabbath, he was too weak to take in the entire Sabbath service, and yet he tuned in twice that day!  We did not know that his last "hello" was also his "good-bye."  Francis' concern was always for the other brethren.  We will miss him greatly.

Weakness and shortness of breath drove Francis into the hospital for the last four months of his life.  Before that, Francis' common practice was to visit Becky every day in her nursing home, and assist her with her meals.  In the hospital, he had to choke back the tears when speaking of his desire to see Miss Becky.  Because of the fluid build up in Francis' legs in his last days, he rested as well as he could with his feet up, and on oxygen. 

Francis Anderson responded to the Gospel message that changed so many lives.  He believed that the Bible is the Word of God, and he was thankful to God for the opportunity to know Him.  In the old days, Francis drove his family to Winnipeg every Sabbath for years, to attend services.  Always keeping his eye on the goal, just weeks before he died, he said, "I never lost hope in the true value of the Scriptures, knowing that where I am weak, He is strong." 

Francis' life was one of trials, tests and overcoming.  His parents divorced when he was a tender 6 year old, and he saw times few of us can relate to, like the great depression of the late 1920's followed by the drought and dust bowl years of the early 1930’s.  Francis had a "fire in his belly" - a strong passion for what is right.  Injustice to his fellow man kindled a righteous indignation within him, and stirred him to action.  Francis Anderson once ran for Parliament in Canada.  He loved his organic farm that he started farming shortly after WWII on a section of land - 40 acres.

God began calling Francis in the 1960's.  Francis loved to reminisce about the early Feast of Tabernacles, like when he loaded up the family back in 1968 and headed to Squaw Valley, California.  He talked about the pancakes and eggs they all ate there.  He spoke fondly of the other Feast sites his family attended together in the early days - like Wisconsin Dells and the Penticton Feast site.

Brethren were greatly impressed with the diligent attitude of service Francis extended in getting Miss Becky to the Feast of Tabernacles.  Even after her strokes in the 1980's, and after she broke her hip in March of 2003, Francis managed to fly her to distant Feast sites, and drive cross-country to get her to every service and function, with her hair fixed and all dressed up!  Their last opportunity to "Rejoice Before the Lord," was two years ago at the Feast in 2004.  Francis kept it a secret that his own health required that he wear a catheter all the time.  There was never a mention of it -  this unique individual never questioned, or allowed a word of complaint to leave his lips.

Francis Anderson  has given to all of us, by adding to our lives... his love and his concern for us, no matter how distant, his wishes for our happiness, his desire for our peace and comfort, and, his ever present charming disposition and patient endurance.  He had a trait of diverting attention away from himself, even when in distress.  We will miss his beautiful smile,  his strength, his encouragement for us, and his prayers.  Francis did not forget the admonition in Malachi 3:16, "... To speak often one to another."  Few people knew how Francis developed genuine Christian relationships with those who could not attend weekly services - like those in prison.

He practiced and lived his religion in a Christian manner.  Pure religion is not dominating people, controlling people, or being harsh to them.  “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”  (James 1:27)  Yes, we will miss his steadfastness and reliability.  He was a real friend – in that he shared, not only in our joys – but he shared in our sorrows, as well.  He didn’t just lend lip-service to his Christianity, he was a man of Faith.  Brethren, this is our comfort, our hope, and our belief.  We will see Francis Anderson again – we will be with him again, and we will always be with the Lord. 

“I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so those also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.  (1Thessalonians 4:13-18) 

Francis has preceded us in death, and in doing so, has left us an example that we should think about.  We do not like to contemplate our own deaths.  Francis Anderson was willing to do so.  In anticipation of his death, and out of consideration for others, Francis made arrangements for his obituary, eulogy and funeral service, in advance.  He was not fearful.  Francis requested that a tape recorded message for his funeral service be prepared ahead of time.  At the end, he was concerned - not for himself - but for those loved ones he would leave behind - like his wife, Miss Becky, whom he had always thought that he would outlive.

Francis Anderson has run his course, and yet, he will live again – he will smile again – he will love again ...  There will be no more suffering for him, no pain, no doubting, no forgetting, no hurt – not ever again!  Francis Anderson is resting… waiting…  Isaiah the prophet was inspired by Jesus Christ to write, “The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart.  And merciful people are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come."  (Isaiah 57:1)  Harder days are coming soon… Francis Anderson will not have to endure them.

Francis was a "Child of God."  He, like us, is awaiting the return of Jesus Christ – in glory and in power.  God, too, is also looking forward to that day when He will be bringing many sons and daughters unto glory.  Jesus put it this way: “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life."  (John 5:28-29)

Francis Anderson will see his grandchildren and great grandchildren  again – he will hug them.  He will yet love them – with a perfect Godly love.  At that day that we look forward to, Francis Anderson will not be in this weak flesh – which perishes – No!  He will be changed, because God has something special in store for His children.  The apostle John wrote of this marvelous change:  “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Children of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not."  (1John 3:1)

Speaking for himself and Miss Becky, Francis’ last words were, “We look forward to the resurrection and the Kingdom of God.”  “Beloved, now are we the Children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see him as He is.  (1John 3:2)
 
Dear friends of Francis Anderson, this is going to happen sooner than we think.  Speaking of the time when Jesus will return to this Earth and be King of kings, Matthew recorded this:  “When the Son of man shall come in His Glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall He sit upon the Throne of his glory:  And before Him shall be gathered … [Francis Anderson, for one]  Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."  (Matthew 25:31,34)
 
Becky Anderson remains in a Morris, Manitoba nursing facility.  She visited her ailing husband, Francis, every week, right up to the end, with the aid of her daughter, Barbara.  Miss Becky greatly missed the days when they operated their organic farm together.

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Sermon:  "Discerning the Times"

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