“Grandpa Joe” Dillsaver Keeps His Promise to the Church

“Grandpa Joe” Dillsaver Keeps His Promise to the Church

Elizabeth DeVore, Congregational Life Chair
Jesus loves the little children

Do you promise to support and assist, to nurture them while they come to know, love, and serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? ... “With God’s help we will.” This is the response from the congregation each time a child is brought to the baptismal font. These promises extend to congregants of all ages as we lean into what it truly means to be a family together in God’s kingdom.

Faithful Children’s Ministry volunteer Joe Dillsaver has taken the baptismal promise to heart. He and his wife, Jackie, joined First Church in 1985 and began serving with first- and second-grade students. After being involved in other ministries they returned several years ago to work with the children.

“One Sunday in the two-year-old class,” Joe said, “a particularly ‘blessed’ youngster commanded our attention. As he left with his dad, he stopped at the door, turned, looked at me and said, 'Bye, Grandpa.’ My heart melted on the spot. Thus, I evolved into my name, Grandpa Joe.”

Joe has countless stories of how he has also been blessed as he blesses the Children's Ministry with his presence. Here are a few of his memories:

A sleep whisperer

“Many older siblings and parents also call me Grandpa Joe. One Sunday morning, a nine-year-old big sister came up to me and said, ‘How do you get my baby brother to go to sleep?’ That took me by surprise! I popped a few pride buttons off my shirt that day.”

From fussing to smiling

“A mother brought her young daughter to class, handed her to me and said, ‘Go to Grandpa Joe.’ On first day of VBS, the same mother brought her fussy three-year-old daughter to me. I received her in my arms and she immediately stopped fussing. To this day, when she sees me I get a smile.”

Sam's sweet act of love

“One of my favorite memories was from VBS. I skinned a place on my leg and it oozed blood. Sam Barnhart saw it. The next day he proudly placed an animal band-aid (I think either a llama or unicorn) on the ‘owie.’ What a great example of God’s love to Grandpa Joe.”

In Matthew, Jesus made clear the importance of children. The disciples rebuked those who brought children to Christ for him to lay hands on them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

First Church Children’s Ministry serves around 75 children infant-PreK and 45 elementary students each Sunday morning with the help of roughly 35 volunteers. In addition, there is AWANA programming on Wednesday nights and more than 100 children at Vacation Bible School each summer, all of which rely on the support of volunteers.

“At one time within the last year, we had 16 mothers waiting to add to our blessings,” Joe said. "Additional help is still desperately needed in the Children’s Ministry. There is a place for you whether for an hour, once in a while, or regularly. Come find your place with us!”

How to get involved

If you have been thinking about helping in the children’s area now or in the future, contact Sarah Savage, Director of Children’s Ministries at 918-584-4701 or email her at ssavage@ firstchurchtulsa.org. Your call will change the life of a child and add pure joy to yours!

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