As I recall, it was that first Sunday morning (Easter Sunday 2001) that, on the recommendation of a friend, we attended a service at Oasis Worship Center. It was also on that day that we met a man named Jacky Allen. My first impression of him was that he was a caring person who knew how to make people feel welcome as well as take care of business. As I watched him tend to the needs of the pastor, as well as so many others during the service, I was impressed by what appeared to be a genuine love of people. But I couldn’t be sure how far outside the church that love and concern actually reached until he entered our lives.
My husband, Elliott, our two children and I were living in a small apartment when we first arrived in Nashville, October 2000. God had used Elliott’s business to bring us here from our home state of Texas, but over the next several months we would experience financial struggles that would challenge our faith to stay. Enter, Jacky Allen.
Jacky Allen (whom I could never just call Jacky) made it his job to get to know Elliott and me, and to find out more about our business and family life. He listened, and he freely offered his time. I began to see Jacky Allen as a true Bishop in the Body of Christ because I’d heard the stories and the testimonies of others he’d helped during times of difficulty. For us, he not only made sure our rent was paid and that we had the groceries we needed, but he also helped us look for a house, and encouraged and reminded us that God was still in control.
Making our move from Texas to Tennessee was a giant leap, and before moving our pastor and church elders in San Antonio had prayed over us. Part of what they saw in prayer was that God was going to use an angel to guide us when we arrived in Nashville, and that we would meet this angel. I’ll never forget riding in Jacky Allen’s car to go see an open house one day. Sitting there looking at him, and thinking of all the wonderful ways he’d helped us during times of financial and emotional uncertainty, I asked him, “Jacky Allen, are you an angel?” He laughed at me and said, “No, I don’t think so.” I said, “Well, you’re an angel to me.” My memory of Jacky Allen brings tears of joy to my eyes because I think of what a wonderful man of God he truly was. My life was made so much richer for having known him.
*Jacky Allen died two years ago today. He was a husband, father, brother, friend, real estate agent and true Bishop over God’s people, though he never wore a collar or a robe. He wasn’t a perfect man, but he was without a doubt a real man of God.