DALLAS (BP) -- 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 fulltime music positions were scarce.
While salaries for most pastors were low in the mid-20th century, they were even lower for fulltime 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 recounted. "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 the people who joined the choirs at each church -- some armed with a love for God but not with 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," he said. "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."
Eloise remembered his skill at leading the newly formed groups. "I was in the choir, and when I saw him up there, he commanded the attention of every choir member," she said.
Like many others called into God's service, it was not a desire to stop working that caused Dewey to retire but a health problem that made it too difficult to continue serving fulltime.
For the first few years of his retirement, Dewey qualified for a small disability benefit through his retirement plan with GuideStone Financial Resources. But when that benefit ended, 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 Mission:Dignity.
Because of his many years of service in Louisiana, he also began receiving a check for $65 provided by the Louisiana Shepherd's Fund that is administered by the staff at Mission:Dignity.
Southern Baptists who know a retired minister or minister's widow in need can refer them to the Mission:Dignity program. Contact Mission:Dignity by calling GuideStone toll-free at 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433) for more information.
"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 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 said.
Eyes bright with emotion, he 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."
Judy Bates is department head in financial assistance at GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. For more information, go to Mission:Dignity
on the Web.