A Tribute to Carmen Gothard
November 15, 1908–January 19, 2000
Proverbs 31 says of the virtuous and Godly woman that her works praise her in the gates and her children rise up and call her blessed. My mother’s six children, fifteen grandchildren, and thirty-two great-grandchildren continue to do just that.
We bless her for bringing children into the world during a time of economic hardship. I especially bless her for rejecting the counsel of a close friend who strongly urged her to abort me because three children in three years would put too much financial pressure on the family.
We bless her for bringing us to the house of God in childhood and teaching us to fear the Lord. When she learned about salvation, she excitedly passed on to us the Good News of the Savior. Her example of reading God’s Word each morning taught us to love the Scriptures. I remember the day in the kitchen that she suggested I attend a Bible class at the end of our block. That evening, I knelt down in my bedroom and received the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. She praised us for the things we did to serve the Lord and gave a significant release to me following my ordination.
We bless her for instructing us and giving us purpose in life. She shared the Gospel with others at every opportunity, teaching us to love people and have concern for their eternal welfare. She taught us that people were more important than things. She instilled in me the strong commitment to be a protector by helping me to understand the meaning of my name.
Her tireless efforts in keeping the house and her faithfulness to fulfill the routine responsibilities of daily life taught us to enjoy work and to be diligent in daily tasks. She taught us to be a family by having us eat meals together. When my father was not home, she always remembered to ask one of us to read the Scripture and daily devotion and to pray before the meal.
She began our days by playing bright Gospel music in the kitchen. When an old friend called early in the morning, we all became quiet in our bedrooms, listening as she described our activities in a way that motivated and encouraged each of us. She taught us to love good books and music and laid important articles on my dresser for me to read.
She saw the good side of people and taught us to speak positively about difficult situations. She trained us to care for the things that we had and encouraged us to consider the consequences of our decisions before we acted.
She and my father took initiative to use our home as a center for sharing the Gospel with our neighbors through children’s meetings, high school Bible clubs, adult Bible classes, and weekly women’s prayer groups.
Her investments in the lives of her children have produced eternal fruit in the lives of many others, so that today multitudes around the world join us in calling her blessed.
One special group blesses my mother. Three years ago, she went with me to Russia during Christmastime to honor 2,500 former Communist teachers. They received her with applause and tears of gratefulness. This Christmas, I gave each a picture of my mother and father. They received it as a treasure, hugging and kissing it and telling me how grateful they are for her life and sacrifices. In a very real sense, her work in our lives is causing her to be praised in the political gates of other nations.
She is now with our Savior enjoying some of the fruit of her labor. More fruit will come as her children continue to follow her Godly heritage and allow the Lord to use us to further His kingdom.
Since the home-going of my mother, something very special and unexpected has taken place within me. Throughout the day, and at particular points of decision, I recall her cautions and wise counsel. It gives me further motivation to do that which would please the Lord and my parents.
This is consistent with the Scripture, “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee” (Proverbs 6:20–22).
The second surprise came from a little girl who said to her mother, “Mommy, now Mr. Gothard is an orphan.” What a special classification in which to be included!
This tribute was adapted from the January 2000 issue of the IBLP Newsletter.