2015 Laity Address: The story of a powerful witness

June 23, 2015

Janet O'Neil was the winner of the 2015 Annual Conference Laity Address Challenge, and delivered the address on Saturday morning, June 20.

O’Neil’s husband, Paul, was an Army chaplain and has been serving Moultonboro UMC in New Hampshire since 2010. He is appointed to Rockville UMC in Connecticut as of July 1, 2015. O’Neil, a special education teacher, has visited 22 countries and all 50 states. Once they move to Connecticut, the couple will have lived in nine states as well as two countries outside the U.S.

The Laity Address focused on the scripture selected for this Annual Conference Psalm 33:32:  “Let Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us, in proportion to our waiting and hoping for You.” (AMP)

O’Neil asked members: What are you doing while you’re waiting? What kind of witness are you for the Lord?

Then she told the story about a powerful witness she knew: the owner of White’s New and Used Car dealership in Springfield, MO.

She went to White’s to purchase a car and asked White to pick it out for her; she gave him an amount and said she would pay cash for the car he chose, no questions asked.

Her trust in the car dealer, whom she did not know, was inspired by the banner on the dealership that read: Jehovah Nissi.

“I know what that means,” she told White. “That God is the standard by which you live and do your business.”

Instead of being delighted by the prospect of an easy sale, she said, White looked concerned and began to rub his chin. After some thought, he refused to sell her a car.

He advised her to take the car to an honest mechanic (his mechanic if she did not have another) and be sure it was not repairable before buying another. He said that was the advice he’d give his own wife and could give O’Neil no other advice.

O’Neil asked members: What about us? Can we say that God is the standard by which we live and do our business? Can we say that we’ll act as Mr. White did when we have nothing to gain by it?