“I cannot even describe how much my church means to me. There is so much love and compassion,” Lois McMindes expressed. “I have never had a church group where there was so much respect.”
When we last caught up with Lois, she was investing at age 100. Now, at age 102, she finds hope in the moments when she gets to serve the Lord with everything she has. There is an incredible amount that she gives—through the wisdom she imparts to others, her fierce ability to love, and most of all, her heart for lifting her congregation in prayer.
More Than Merely Existing
Although serving might look differently than it did years ago, Lois is able to be daily involved at First Christian Church of Leisure World and is known as the prayer warrior in her community.
“My daughter, Jarilyn, and I are dedicated to our prayer life. It gives us more opportunities to serve the church in other ways—different ways. We pray together three times a day for our families, our congregation—everything.”
However, life had its difficulties as time took its toll. Lois was tired of merely existing and not being as active as she once was at a younger age.
“Some time ago, when I realized how old I was and how handicapped I felt, I said to Pastor Gene, ‘I want to go home. I am so tired and I want to see my sweetheart, my mom, and grandma. I am not doing anybody any good here. I do not want to do this anymore,’” she revealed somberly.
Her pastor reassured her, “Do not ever say you cannot do anything. You have been our prayer warrior through the years. We need that. Our young people need that.”
Lois was full of emotion when expressing her gratitude for her church during her that dark period. Through her reliance on God, she is a beacon of hope for many other people around her. Prayer saved her life.
“I have a great, big, wonderful God. I do not need anything else—of course, I need all of the rest of you so I can be of better service,” she added with a laugh.
A Heart for the Church
One of the many things Lois loves about the church is how different generations can support and encourage one another. She said that it starts with mutual respect and love for Jesus and therefore of each other.
“We have about a dozen young women who are out of college and some that are still in college. I have nothing but respect and thankfulness because nothing’s too hard for them. They ask us what we need most right now and how they can help us visualize our goals. They take care of the real hard work and help us to realize our dreams.”
At an early age, Lois had always dreamt of getting a college education and working in the mission field. Although she never had a chance to fulfill the missional calling, she did get to be in charge of the missions programs at her church.
“I used to be in charge of missions at First Christian Church of Leisure World. We had missions which were all around the world that we helped support,” she said. “We have a tremendous prayer group that is in constant prayer for our missionaries. It has been my whole goal to do as much as I can to support our missions.”
Lois has a lineage of supporting the local church, dating back to her mother and her grandmother. They were 2 of the 7 people who helped start Canton Christian Church in Canton, Oklahoma.
“I always joked that I was born at church.”
It is a legacy that she is proud of today and expressed that Canton Christian Church is open to all and does not turn anyone away. However, church is not all that she found growing up in her home state.
Early Days of Love
“I grew up in Northwest Oklahoma on the Cheyenne Indian reservation. I have always been proud of my Oklahoma background,” Lois shared. “I was 12 years old when I first saw my sweetheart. I had this tremendous crush on my girlfriend’s brother, who was 18. Well, I was gah-gah over him, and he did not know I existed!”
Lois realized after a few years that her crush, Jerry McMindes, had left Oklahoma and moved to Arkansas to help his family. She moved on with life and kept to her studies. She dreamed of getting a college education and did not think about Jerry until he showed up in town unexpectedly.
“I had not even thought about him again until he showed up in my home town one day. I thought he was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen,” she remarked. “My girlfriend called me and asked if I would go on a blind date, and I said, ‘Sure.’ Well, I could not believe that my blind date was this guy named Jerry that I had this crush on from babyhood almost.”
Almost immediately they knew they wanted to get married, but times were tough. They managed to spend a small amount of time together on weekends while they saved up for marriage and Lois’s college education.
It was a long road ahead for them. When they eventually got married, Jerry had an offer from his uncle to work under him in California. They saved up what little they could so Jerry could head to California, while Lois stayed in Oklahoma to tend to her sick mother.
Lockheed Fighter Planes
When Jerry arrived in El Segundo, California, his uncle found out that his company was on a hiring freeze and they were not able to offer Jerry a job after all. Jerry took on any job he could find until he could get a more permanent position. After 3 months of being apart, Lois finally made the journey to California. The day she arrived in Los Angeles, Jerry received a phone call.
“When we first came to California in those early days, it was at the beginning of the depression. He had put his name in for Lockheed fighter planes, and the call he had received was from them. He had been hired and could start that following Monday.”
Jerry spent fulfilling years working for Lockheed Aircraft (now known as Lockheed Martin), an aerospace company that creates aircraft for the U.S. Department of Defense and NASA. Eventually the company moved Jerry and Lois from Burbank up to San Jose, California where Jerry worked in the space/satellite division.
“My husband was honored for the work he did there,” she said humbly, “Nobody knew they were making history. We lived close to the plant, and Jerry would sometimes share with me, ‘Tomorrow at 10 am we are rolling one out. Go to the fence and you can see them take off.’ I would go over there and hang on because they would zoom by. It was a real treat,” she remembered fondly.
During their years in California, they welcomed a baby girl, Jarilyn, into the world. It was a celebrated time for both, now with their little miracle baby. Lois spent her days caring for their daughter and always tried to serve the Lord in any capacity she could by taking initiatives in her church.
The years rolled by. After a full life and a fulfilling career, Jerry took early retirement and they decided to move up to Oregon. They stayed there a number of years until Lois’s parents started getting steadily more ill, bringing the two back to California, where her parents now lived. Meanwhile, Jerry developed a pain in his lungs which began to get worse and worse.
When he eventually saw a doctor about his lungs, the doctor broke the news that Jerry had developed pulmonary fibrosis while working at a company that had produced gypsum. This was deadly, and doctors predicted that Jerry had only 2 more years to live. It was then that Jerry and Lois moved to Leisure World, a retirement community in Seal Beach, California, where they lived out an amazing 2 more years together until Jerry passed away in 1988.
Although her last three decades have been defined as a widow, Lois does not let that stop her. She gives an incredible amount of credit to her church, her family, and her relationship with God for keeping her active.
An Okie Invites a Texan to Church
While Lois was in charge of missions at FCC of Leisure World, she came across a brochure from CDF Capital that piqued her interest. She reached out to CDF president, Dusty Rubeck, asking him to visit the church.
“I thought I had scored when I had asked Dusty to come and talk with us. Everyone fell in love with CDF from that time on.”
Because Lois is from Oklahoma and Dusty is a Texan, there was a connection made.
“Dusty has kept in touch through the years. He and his wife are long-time Texans, but you know, we are kinfolk.” She continued, “We got talking about different places, and of course he knew where I was born, in Northwest Oklahoma, during World War I.”
She recalled another piece of their friendship—cheese.
“A cheese factory from Oklahoma has become worldwide known. It is called the Watonga Cheese Factory, not far from Canton. Dusty mentioned to me that his wife loved their cheese, and I was so excited about that connection. The next thing I knew, there was a package at my door from the Watonga Cheese Factory. It did not last long!”
After seeing the ways that CDF Capital could help churches grow, Lois decided to be a part of that transformation.
“As you see, I cannot do a lot for any one mission, but I felt if I could use my small savings to help the Kingdom by helping CDF finance new churches—it was something I could do and be very, very proud and happy to be able to do it.”
Lois reflected on what CDF has meant to her and to the many people who get the opportunity to build their God-sized dreams because of CDF investments.
“Is it not amazing when people who love the Lord get together to put their heads and their resources to work?”
Transforming the Kingdom Together
As Lois said, it is amazing what God can do when we work together. Our mission to help churches grow and share the transformational love of Jesus Christ only happens when people like Lois partner with us.