'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved…
When Dewey Seale sings the old hymn “Amazing Grace,” the words come from deep in his heart as he remembers God’s grace has always been sufficient no matter the circumstances. Dewey, with his wife Eloise at his side, served as a minister of music for 50 years during a time when full-time music positions were scarce. While salaries for most pastors were low in the middle half of the 1900s, they were even lower for full-time music ministers. Yet Dewey never failed to answer God’s call.
“I said, Lord, if you will lead me, I will go anywhere you want me to go. And I went from church to church, as I felt led of the Lord,” he recalled. “I was a music minister and I felt like God had given me this talent.”
Recalling those early days, Eloise — whose face crinkled into a smile at the memory — said, “I feel about this man like he’s just like a boy that I first met when I was a little girl. We’ve been together for over 65 years.”
Sitting in his modest mobile home in rural Louisiana, Dewey looked back over his long career and fondly remembered all the people who joined the choirs at each church — some armed with a love for God, but no musical skills. “It was a tremendous experience. I loved it. It was a great pleasure to go into a church where there was no choir and recruit people to sing in the choir. Most of them would say, ‘I don’t know one note from the other,’ and I’d say, ‘Don’t worry about that! We have a good pianist that will teach you the tune, so come on,’” he said.
Eloise lovingly remembered his skill at leading the newly formed groups, “I was in the choir and when I saw him up there he commands the attention of every choir member.”
Like many others called into God’s service, it was not a desire to stop working that caused him to retire, but a health problem that made it too difficult to continue serving full time. For the first few years of his retirement, Dewey qualified for a small disability benefit through his retirement plan with GuideStone. But when that benefit came to an end, Dewey and Eloise were looking at subsisting on Social Security and a small amount of savings.
While talking to a GuideStone customer service representative shortly before his disability benefit ended, Dewey learned about the Mission:Dignity ministry. The representative sent him an application and trustees for the ministry approved his application a short time later. Later that month, Dewey received his first $265 monthly check from the ministry. Due to his many years of service in Louisiana, he also began receiving an additional check of $65 provided by the Louisiana Shepherd’s Fund that is administered by the staff at Mission:Dignity.
“The help that we get from Mission:Dignity is so important to us. I don’t know how we’d make it. The check that I get helps me to buy her prescriptions,” Dewey explained as he reached over to gently pat Eloise’s folded hands.
Nodding her head in agreement, Eloise quickly confirmed, “It really does help. That check comes in usually when we are just about out of money. We are just so thankful that people see the need for helping people like us.”
Dewey and Eloise cling to God’s grace on those days when life seems uncertain. “Considering the rise in cost of living, it would be hard to survive without your help. We are amazed at how and when God’s blessings come,” Dewey affirmed.
Eyes bright with emotion, Dewey quietly added, “Without your financial help, we would be in big trouble. We sincerely know the Lord made your service possible for our existence. Please let any and all donors know we praise the Lord for their support.”