“Take My Will And Make It Thine”
One of the most beloved hymns of Christendom was penned by Frances Ridley Havergal. In 1874, the young English hymnist wrote the familiar words, “Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee.” The fourth and final stanza of this hymn of devotion proclaims, “Take my will and make it Thine; It shall be no longer mine.”
Raised in neighboring Halifax County, Jesse Garland Owen was a salesman in the appliance department of Tucker-Bevell Motors in Chase City. Irma Nell Thompson was a bookkeeper at the Chase City Department Store. They met, fell in love and were married on May 22, 1950, in Radford, Virginia. It was a love affair that would last over fifty-three years. Though they travelled to Southwest Virginia to be married by a pastor friend, they built their lives together in Chase City and Emporia. Jesse, the consummate “people person” received a job offer with the American Family Life Assurance Company (Aflac) of Columbus, Georgia. Jesse and Irma relocated to Emporia where they would reside for the next thirty years.
Long-time supporters of various charitable causes, Jesse and Irma became familiar with the ministries of the Virginia Baptist Foundation through their friendship with their former pastor and president of the foundation, Bob Mobley. Under the guidance of former foundation President Tim Norman, Jesse and Irma chose to utilize the foundation’s “Give It Twice” concept of giving. In other words, they chose to give their cumulative estate via their Last Will and Testaments first to five loved ones and ultimately to a number of charitable organizations including The Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (Atlanta), The Eastern Star Home of Virginia, HopeTree Family Services, Main Street Baptist Church (Emporia), The Masonic Home of Virginia, Mount Olivet Christian Church (Victoria), Petersburg Baptist Association, The Shriners Children Hospital (Greenville, South Carolina), and the ministries of the Virginia Baptist Foundation.
While they contributed mightily in life including several terms on the foundation’s board of trustees, in death Jesse and Irma Owen seized upon a timeless truth: the blessedness of total and complete consecration. “Take my will and make it Thine; It shall be no longer mine.”