Over the centuries, God has called many "small" women to His work. Two that immediately come to mind are Ellen Gould (Harmon) White and Mother Teresa. Both women, though frail, worked effortlessly to share God's love. As I was sitting in Sabbath school one Sabbath morning, I had no idea I was soon to learn of a more current version.
Because I had recently arrived from "Down Under," I was still experiencing jet lag and had seriously considered not going to church that day; however, I decided to attend. Upon arrival, I found that a memorial service was being conducted at the divine service. I thought it quite odd but soon was told that the remaining family member had not granted permission for this person to have a burial service in our church.
Still, I wondered, who was this lady, Peggy Hollingsworth, that she should warrant such special attention? It was only later that Sabbath morning, when Pastor Lesley Hill proceeded to reveal this woman's life, that I realized how privileged I was to be present. Her life was one of love and concern for others.
To the casual observer, she probably looked just like any of the other little old ladies taking their places at church each week. But within this small woman beat a heart of love. Having never married and with no children of her own, Peggy had a special soft spot for disadvantaged children.
Her birth had not been one of wealth, fame, or privilege. In fact, she was born to parents who were in service to a large farming estate in the county of Bedfordshire.
Her father, of whom Peggy was very fond, died while she was still a child. This caused her great sadness. After her mother's remarriage, she found herself often caring for the younger members of the family. At an early age, Peggy showed a special skill in caring for others. It was a gift she continued to use throughout her life. Before World War I, Peggy spent 15 years in Egypt as a children's nanny. Later she held several positions where her caring spirit was put to use.
In 1977, Peggy was baptized and took her place as a member of the Bournemouth Seventh-day Adventist Church. Then, in 1985, at the age of 75, when most people would be content to take life easy and "put their feet up," Peggy accepted the position of welfare leader. It soon became clear that she had a talent for making and keeping contacts with those in the local Volunteer Services. She always seemed to be aware of the needs of others.
Peggy never spoke of herself or her previous life with any sense of pity or regret. In fact, when asked to sum up her early beginnings, she admitted with typical English expression to being a "noisy little beggar."
But this "noisy little beggar" became an advocate for those in need. Pastor Lesley shared with the congregation how enlightening Peggy's conversations were. She always had a fascinating story to tell, and her dry humor was delightful. He said church business meetings would never be quite the same without Peggy's "interesting" welfare department reports.
He told of accompanying Peggy to a Volunteer Service meeting in the town hall. There he found evidence of the joy she gave to others. Everyone knew her and loved her.
No activity in the church, be it the Harvest Festival or Christmas Toy Services, passed without highlighting Peggy's concern for the needs of the local community. She always had some special project going. Her loving encouragement kept "her" ladies busy knitting items from baby jackets to knee blankets. Peggy didn't know what the word “discouragement” meant. She was constant in word and action which sprang from her genuine interest in others.
When speaking of their meetings with Peggy, people used such phrases as "like a mother to me," "her observations were a gift to us,” and "she was a warm presence." She gave the word "kindness" its full meaning and held nothing back. The Lord's love was reflected in her being. And when, at the age of 90, she was being escorted to an ambulance to go to the hospital, she gave the pastor a pile of beautifully washed and ironed clothing to give to another person in need.
At the end of the service, I felt blessed by learning of this joyful and kind woman who spent her life doing God's work. God bless the many "small" women who make a difference in the lives of others.