As the apostle Paul concluded the book of Colossians, he sent greetings from those who were with him in his imprisonment, adding this grateful commendation: “they have been a comfort to me” (Colossians 4:11). Some people were embarrassed to be associated with Paul and his chains (2 Timothy 1:16), but not Aristarchus, Mark, and Jesus called Justus. They worked side by side with the apostle in the difficult circumstances of his imprisonment, and Paul says that their presence was an encouragement.

Geri Boyd

This morning I learned of the passing of Geri Boyd. Geri and her husband Billy were members of the Congdon Avenue church in Elgin, where I preached from 2001-2005. Billy died during that time, but I was always grateful to see Geri when speaking opportunities took me back to Chicagoland. Last summer I preached in nearby Rochelle, and Geri made a point to come hear me preach that week.

I cannot overstate what an encouragement Billy and Geri were to me. When I first came to Elgin to discuss working with the church there, Billy and Geri picked me up at the airport, took me to The Colonial for dinner (I did not have the “Kitchen Sink”!), and then had me stay with them in their home. The next day, I met with the elders to discuss the possibility of moving there. At one point, one of the elders asked me what I was looking for in a church. I explained that I had just been through a very difficult experience, and more than anything else, I just needed to know that the leadership of the church would stand behind me.

Billy Boyd

At that point, Billy spoke up and said (as best I can recall): “Shane, if you move here, I will make it my personal responsibility to encourage you.” With that one sentence, Billy breathed new courage into me and erased my fears and insecurities. And after I moved there, Billy (along with Geri) was true to his word. The Boyds gave me far more than I ever gave them.

I have shared that story with the church here. In fact, any time Geri was in the audience where I was speaking I told that story, because I wanted her to know what a difference she and Billy made in my life. She was not a famous person – neither were Aristarchus, Mark, or Justus. But just as those disciples lifted Paul’s spirits when he needed it the most, Billy and Geri encouraged countless workers in the kingdom.

God’s grace be with you, Geri.