Find Us Faithful: Tribute to Elfriede Schaeffer

Welcome to Real Life. It's our turn.

A song popped into my head while I was out walking the other day. It surprised me. Because it had been decades since I heard it. Then, the very next day, I received a congregational email from my pastor saying his mother, Elfriede Schaeffer, was dying of complications due to COVID pneumonia. And again, the song, “Find Us Faithful,” came to mind.

O may all who come behind us
Find us faithful,
May the fire of our devotion
Light their way.
May the footprints that we leave,
Lead them to believe,
And the lives we live
Inspire them to obey.[1]

Elfriede embodied faithfulness. Her late husband Donald was Senior Pastor when we started attending Grace CMA Church. The two of them laid a firm foundation for our faith community for over five decades.

Death is a part of life. No one, not even someone as wonderful as Elfriede, walks this earth forever. Why, then, does her death shake the ground beneath my feet? Perhaps, in part, it’s the accumulated grief of all we’ve lost through the pandemic. I sense something deeper however. For Elfriede belonged to the generation of my elders, parents, and teachers. The fire of their devotion lit my way. And I feel the loss.

Elfriede was wholly devoted to Jesus Christ. “I love Jesus with all my heart. He’s my best friend,” she told her doctor in her final days. In this season of insecurity, swiftly shifting mores, and contentious divisions both in and outside the church, I leaned on Elfriede’s solid-oak faith. I trusted her. I sought protection under her branches. I relied on her prayers. She bore and raised nine children; nothing moved her. Her death reminds me that the oaks of my thousand-acre-wood, elder generation are disappearing one by one. 

A spiritual oak, Elfriede was deeply rooted as:
  • A lifegiver physically. She loved her husband, nine children, forty grandchildren, and thirty-eight great grandchildren. All her children are serving the Lord.
  • A lifegiver spiritually. She had a thorough knowledge of God’s Word and passionately taught it. “I don’t think there is a verse Mom couldn’t find in the Bible,” her daughter Julie said at her Memorial Service. Elfriede and Pastor Donald’s ministry influenced thousands for Jesus Christ.
  • A prayer warrior who experienced both its power and its intimacy with God.
  • A humble, imperfect woman who perfectly modeled a woman of faith.
Schaeffer Family Reunion 2021

Elfriede’s death signals a passing of the baton. It’s our turn. Will future generations find us faithful? Will the fire of our devotion light their way? “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). This is our charge. By God’s grace, may we be found faithful.

Dear Father God,
Thank you for the blessing and honor of knowing Elfriede Schaeffer.
Please comfort her family as they walk through this season of grief.
And please comfort us, her church family and friends, as we dearly miss her.
May her example inspire us to a deeper level of holiness, devotion, humility, and love.
We pray in the name of our beautiful Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Take it further:

[1] Excerpts from “Find Us Faithful” by Keith Green (1988)


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