Her smile was infectious, and her laugh was contagious. Everywhere she went there was an outbreak of joy, compassion, and concern that was openly shared with others. She was the “real deal” and she not only talked about her faith, she lived out her faith on a daily basis.
She had a faith that was down to earth and extremely practical. When she was confronted with a problem or made aware of a need, she was quick to make a personal investment in seeking a solution or providing positive assistance that would lead to alleviating or providing a remedy for the difficulty. Her genuine Christ-like service was aimed at helping others to experience the transforming love of Jesus Christ.
Joyce Francis was a jewel.
Her recent death came as a shocking surprise. I visited her in the hospital and even though she faced serious health challenges that looked bleak, her focus was on others. She was not bitter or angry or resentful. She possessed a faith and a hope in Jesus Christ that caused her to see beyond her own plight and to be more concerned about the plight of others. Her calm assurance was the result of knowing that because her life was anchored in Jesus Christ, everything was going to be okay. She confessed to my wife and me, “I’ve had a good life and I am in the Lord’s hand.” Then she quickly turned the conversation to plans for helping to raise awareness and funds for the Our Conference Our Kids Campaign.
Typical Joyce -- always focusing on helping others.
I met Joyce Francis shortly after my election as Bishop. She gave me a big hug and said, “I am Joyce Francis and I am the chair of your Episcopacy Committee. I’m looking forward to working together.” Joyce was a wonderful leader and a gifted taskmaster. She knew how to get a mountain of work done in a timely manner and she knew how to make it fun-filled and rewarding. She valued each committee member and she took time to assure that we were building relationships with each other.
Joyce Francis will be missed. This Annual Conference has lost a terrific leader, motivator, encourager, and humanitarian. Joyce modeled what it means to be a servant-leader. Her gentle, compassionate, caring example of sacrificial service and love towards others will be missed.
One of the things that stood out to me about Joyce was the way she described herself. She said, “I am an educator.” An educator is much more than a teacher or professor. An educator helps others to experience life-long transformation by providing tools that will assist them in every phase of life’s journey. An educator makes an investment that goes farther than one or two classes. An educator, like a mentor or coach, changes your life forever.
Thanks be to God for the gift of Joyce Francis to the IGRC family. Joyce had a heart of gold. Her faith in Jesus was sturdy, strong and secure. Her work here has ended, and we must carry on the unfinished task of assisting others through the transforming power of relational love rooted and grounded in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
One day each of us will come to the end of our assigned time and will face our appointment with death. I hope and pray that we will be spiritually prepared and that each of us will hear the words of Jesus saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Bishop Frank J. Beard