Coping with Grief
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The Reverend Abe Mack, Jr., Pastor Emeritus
As I reflect and reminisce over the past fifty-five plus years, I tell myself that God really loves me and my family to have blessed us to have ‘Rev’ in our lives. He was my soul mate, friend, adoring husband, prophet, provider and protector. He was such a great man and there’s so much to say about him that I just can’t tell it all. Let me share with you what I can…
Train Up A Child… It all began one faithful Saturday. On that day, June 8, 1935, his parents, Abe Mack, Sr. and Emma Woodard-Mack were excited to welcome their baby boy, Abe Jr. into the world. During early school years he attended the historical Jerusalem School off County Road 317 in Brazoria, Texas. Following Jerusalem School he went to George Washington Carver in Sweeny, Texas. Following school, Abe was drafted into the United States Army and served during peace time after the Korean War. It was an honor serving our country and upon leaving service he received an honorable discharge.
The Two Shall Become One… Abe and I met, and he immediately knew that we were meant to be together. I remember talking with him and thinking about our physical differences… he was a few years older than me, and I was a few inches taller than him. He looked at me and said, ‘It don’t matter how short I am… I’M THE MAN FOR YOU!” He was so right. He treated me like a queen and on Friday, October 11, 1968, I became Mrs. Thelma Smith-Mack. Not only did he say ‘I love you’ but he showed me he loved me. He gave me the approval to be the woman that I have become. We had a great time together as we started our family and raised our kids. The Lord blessed us with four children, Michael, Abe IV, Christopher Dion, and Candace Elizabeth. The house was a good place and we enjoyed spending time together. We ate dinner around the table daily as a family. We prayed before we left home every day and the kids looked forward to their dad coming home after work. Abe was a spontaneous man. It was commonplace for him to come home after work and say ‘pack our bags’ we’re traveling tomorrow. We would head out on a family trip in that customized van (that even had a refrigerator in it) that he bought for that purpose. We also knew that we were going to take at least two vacations a year including trips to Arizona, California or nearly anywhere. Later in life he still enjoyed traveling and we would go on a couple of cruises a year.
There is Profit in Hard Work… He was an excellent provider. Abe was an excellent construction worker. He left his mark on the plants in Freeport and Wadsworth. He also helped build the Southwest Nuclear Project. After working for several construction companies, he ventured out on his own and started Mack and Sons Construction. He built residential, business and commercial projects. From homes to churches and business, he was your man. Many days we would ride around, and he would point out projects that he completed.
I Must Work the Work of Him Who Sent Me… He accepted Christ as his personal Saviour at an early age under the leadership of the late Rev. Brown, pastor of The Jerusalem Baptist Church of Brazoria, Texas. Years later he felt the tug of God on his heart and in 1988 he accepted his calling into the gospel ministry under the leadership of Rev. E. S. Fields of Jerusalem Baptist Church in Brazoria, Texas where he was licensed and ordained for evangelism and pastorship. 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV says: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” A call to ministry means a call to preparation. This calling Abe took seriously which led him to the halls of academia. It was there he received a Bachelor of Theology from Conroe Normal & Industrial College in May 1984. He continued his study and received a Bachelor of Arts in May of 1988. Abe was a praying man of faith. He loved God. There were days that he would spend one half of the day in prayer and concertation. At some point I began to affectionally refer to Abe as “Rev”. In January of 1989 he was called to Pastor New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Dickinson, Texas where he remained for six years. After the death of our son Dion we moved back home and joined St. Paul Baptist Church of Brazoria, Texas. While there he was appointed District Missionary for both the Lincoln Southern District and the Southern District Associations. Rev was later sent to Hall’s Chapel Baptist Church to serve as Interim Pastor. Hall’s Chapel desired his leadership and called him to pastor. He served as their pastor for six years. In August of 2006 the Lord lead him and I to established the New Revelation Baptist Church in Brazoria, Texas. It was there that we joined the Full Gospel International Conference under the leadership of the then Presiding Bishop Paul S. Morton, December 20, 2007. Later we joined the Body of Christ Conference with Bishop C. E. Richardson, Sr. presiding Prelate. Serving as Pastors’ Pastor and Counselor in this conference. Although we had many sons and daughters in the ministry it was Rev’s prayer to have someone of his own bloodline to be called into ministry. Rev’s prayer was answered when his son, Michael accepted his call to God’s work. When health began to fail, Rev appointed and passed the mantel of pastorship to his son Rev. Michael Mack where I, Elder Thelma Mack continues to serve as co-pastor.
Precious Memories… There are so many other precious memories and reflections of Rev. He touched so many lives. He was so affectionate. He genuinely loved people and especially children. If you need evidence, look at our grandchildren, he spoiled them rotten. He was a sharp dresser… he would dress to the 9’s sporting Stacy Adams shoes, nice suits and hats to match. He was a down-to-earth man who enjoyed soul food, pinto beans with biscuits, pound cake, buttermilk as well as sweet potato pies. He was a smooth dancer that could cut-a-rug with the best of them. He shot straight from the hip… he said what he meant and meant what he said. He lived life to the fullest and stood by his philosophy and motto: “JUST BE HAPPY”! Most of all, he was God’s man who pastored over 40 years. Even as he battled cancer and got to the point where he could no longer speak to us, he was still preaching through his life… never complaining and remaining faithful. When I think about Rev and our journey I reflect on the words to a powerful song. Allow me to make those words personal: “We've had some good days, and some hills to climb, we've had some weary days, and some sleepless nights. But when I, when I look around, and I think things over, all of our good days, outweigh our bad days, so I won't complain. For the Lord has been so good to me, He's been good to me, more than this whole world or you could ever be, He's been so good to me. You know what He did? He dried all of my tears away, turned my midnights into day, so I'll just say thank you, Lord. I won’t complain.”
On Wednesday, November 8, 2023, the Lord rewarded Rev for his labor and welcomed him home. Although we will miss him being here, there’s no way that I would want to take him from the presence of The Master to return to us. Although I hurt for us who still remain, I celebrate him who is with The Lord. I will always love and cherish Rev and the beautiful memories we made together. Your loving wife, Thelma of Bay City, Texas; your children: Michael (Rokitha) Mack of Angleton, Texas, Abe (Farah) Mack, IV of Desoto, Texas, Candace Mack (DeAndre) Batitse of Dallas, Texas: your nine grandchildren and two great grandsons; in-law’s: Doretha Mack, Sofronia Mack, Michelle Mack, Brenda (Jack) Young-Johnson of Houston, Manora James of Richwood, Sylvester Smith of Clute, Anthony (Sandy) Smith of Bay City, Clayton (Samra) Smith of Lake Jackson, and Doug (Janae) Smith of Brookshire; your special niece god-daughter Twyla Mack, and a host of nephews, nieces, great nephews and nieces and many other sons and daughters in ministry, church family and community.
It is in these times that we reflect on those who transitioned before him including his son: Christopher Dion Mack; his parents: Abe Mack, Sr. and Emma Woodard Mack; his siblings: Margarette Mack Daniels, Aretha Mack Bell, Florida Mae Mack Ward, Arlena Mack Austin, Robert D. Mack, Sr. Chester Garfield Mack, Sr., Dewilder Mack Harris, John Reddy Mack, Sr., and infant twin brothers (Esau and Jacob). In That Great Getting Up Mornin’… Fare ye well, fare ye well.
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” - II Timothy 4:7-8