by Royce Bell
I'm so deeply saddened, yet rejoice in the victory, in mentioning the passing of Bernice Boyes, of Lake Elsinore CA, at 105 years. She was the single best evangelist with whom I've been associated in my near 50 years of preaching. Berry Kercheville worked with sister Boyes as a young preacher, and she told me of riding with him on his BMW R-90 (?) for teaching opportunities. She was old enough to be his mother, but I believe it. She was that spunky.
On one 3-weeks trip with me to Jamaica, sister Boyes taught and was responsible for baptizing more Jamaican women than all the others taught by me and the three other preachers we met for that trip. For several years, she remained in contact with many of those ladies.
Sister Boyes would meet every morning with a dozen or more Jamaican women in the village of Catadupa (in the mountains of the Cockpit Country, South of Montego Bay). Those precious ladies hung on every word coming from the mouth of sister Boyes. She taught feminine strength and dignity and pressed upon them the truth about marriage. They were very open in asking her about sexual matters which matter to Christian women, but she never flinched.
I personally know of three marriages that took place because of "Miss Bernice" telling ladies, "Your baby-daddy was supposed to be your baby mama's husband, first." Here's one example:
After studying with sister Boyes, a lady told her baby-daddy she would not be sleeping with him anymore unless he married her. The baby-daddy went to Jerry Angelo complaining about sister Boyes. Jerry told him, "Bernice is right," showing him the Bible to prove it. On a phone call to my mother one night (as a preacher's wife, my mother was very interested in my preaching travels), I told her the story, saying the baby-daddy had agreed to marry his baby-mama, as soon as he could afford a ring. In an amazing coincidence (and genuine offer typical of her generosity), mother told me, "Son, I was planting flowers today and in the soil, I found a wedding ring with a diamond in it. I'd be happy to send it to him if he will accept it." Rare is the Jamaican wife who has a gold diamond ring. We told the Jamaican couple, whom we also baptized, of mother's offer. But, I told baby-daddy, "You don't need a ring to make this relationship right." He insisted he did need a ring, and the next day appeared with a simple band of aluminum on which were scored joined hearts. He asked, "Is this okay?" Arrangements were made and the wedding was held, with Jerry officiating. Somebody kept the couple's two children, and that night, they were together for the first time as married Christians in an honorable marriage bed. Mother's ring arrived in a few days, and Jerry took it to the couple. A few weeks later, my mother got a lovely letter and hand-drawn thank you card from the husband and wife, thanking her for the ring (for which Jerry A. paid a Montego Bay jeweler to resize for proper fit).
Stories abound of this dear, dear sister in Christ. It was my blessing to know her for about 45 years. I recently visited her. She tried to speak but could do no more than a whisper. I don't think I've ever had a more tender hand on my cheek.
Tears fill my eyes, but my spirit rejoices in the Lord, today.