By Carla Harper
Contributing writer, B&R
MOHAWK — When pastor Travis Henderson asked for those in the congregation to stand who had been or had children in Linda Wisecarver’s youth Sunday School class, three-fourths of the congregation stood and applauded for the 55-year matriarch.
Wisecarver started teaching the youth when she was in her 20s. She said it was never something she dreaded doing. In fact, Wisecarver said it was one of the greatest joys of her life.
Fairview, located in Mohawk, a small community in Greene County, honored Wisecarver with a surprise luncheon recently. The fellowship hall was filled with people whose lives Wisecarver had invested in. Her former students reflected her impact on their lives and expressed appreciation for a lady who is all of five feet tall, but has had a huge impact on the church, having taught many of the current leaders of the congregation.
Patsy Cobble said Wisecarver not only taught her in Sunday School, but also taught her children and grandchildren. Three generations of the Cobble family appreciate the great impact Wisecarver made on their lives.
“Saying she was my Sunday School teacher as well as the SS teacher of my boys and my granddaughter makes her sound old. However, she is younger at heart and in her spirit than anyone I know. I am thankful that she was able to teach the youth for five and a half decades. As both of us have grown older, I have looked at her as my friend and enjoyed that special friendship,” said Cobble, who graduated in 1967.
In addition to Cobble, there are others who have graduated in every decade since the 60s who also appreciate Wisecarver’s influence on their lives.
“Mrs. Linda was my SS teacher all throughout my youth years, and I always saw her as a great Bible teacher as well as someone who loved me and not only wanted me to grow in my walk with the Lord, but also helped and encouraged me to do that,” said Hannah Grace Lamb, who graduated in 2015. “Mrs. Linda is an amazing woman, and our church is better for having had her all these years,” she said.
One of the most recent students in Wisecarver’s class just became a youth last year. Olivia Henderson, an eighth grader, said Wisecarver never seemed too old to understand and relate to the youth in their class. “Mrs. Linda was an amazing teacher. She was kind, and she knows a lot about the Bible so it challenges me to do more Bible study throughout the week, and not just on Sundays.”
Even though the last class of youth continues to love and admire Wisecarver just as much as her first class and all the years in between, Wisecarver said she felt like it was time to step down when the new 2019 church year started.
The new teacher, Caleb Julian, was also one of Wisecarver’s students. “I cannot fill Mrs. Linda’s shoes because she is a great Bible teacher. … I hope to honor her as I take over the class that she excelled at for more than double the years than I’ve been alive. Her shoes cannot be filled, but I was trained by the best: Mrs. Linda,” Julian said.
Wisecarver said she in no way felt pressured by anyone at the church to step down. She even said she did not feel like she deserved a day of recognition. She said she simply did what she felt like God had asked her to do all these years. “I did it for 55 years because I didn’t feel led to give it up until this year, and God told me it was time to pass it on to someone else,” she noted, adding that she thought it would be nice for the youth to have a younger teacher.
Wisecarver said it was a great joy to love on and be loved on by the many youth she taught for those 55 years. She cherishes many good memories with them and says that Fairview has been blessed with great youth throughout all the years. She also said that even in the age of technology that exists today, she feels like the youth over the 55 years have not changed a lot.
“We did not even have phones when I was growing up, and now most every student brings a phone into class with them. There is a lot of new technology that maybe changes the habits of young people, but the youth today are like the youth 55 years ago: they crave love and attention and a place to call home where they feel accepted,” Wisecarver said.
Wisecarver’s love for young people has also led her to be the director of Vacation Bible School at Fairview for more than 39 years. “I simply have a passion for youth and I feel honored God called me to serve them,” Wisecarver said.
Wisecarver has been married 58 years to Hal Wisecarver, a deacon at Fairview. She has two children, a daughter (Pamela) and a son (Tim), plus four grandchildren and six great grandchildren with one on the way.
Her daughter Pamela said she never heard her mother complain about having to prepare for a Sunday School lesson. “She simply taught because she had a passion and a calling for doing so.” B&R