Celebrate - February 2014
Tribute to Janet Pate
Kelly Stamps 2014-01-21 23:10:43
A BELOVED MOTHER AND FRIEND WHO INSPIRED THOUSANDS DURING HER TWO YEAR BATTLE WITH CANCER. Intentional, faithful, brave, hilarious, strong, positive, selfless — these are just a few words that you could use to describe Janet Pate. Janet, 51, lost her almost two-year battle with ovarian cancer the day after Christmas and her birthday. Janet has worked on staff at First Baptist Church of Bentonville for the last 12 years, where she was the heart and “mother hen” of the youth department. She went on countless youth trips and counseled many teenagers when they needed a trusting adult to listen. She shared her wisdom, as well as her wit, and it was evident that God had a plan for her life. Janet was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in February 2012, and from the beginning until right before her death, she blogged about her journey and shared an honest but extremely uplifting and positive outlook on her circumstances. Janet had a faith in God that can only be described as supernatural; she had a desire to give Him glory no matter the outcome, and at the end, she was so ready to go and meet Jesus. She filmed a video just a few days before she died that was played at her funeral. During the film she shared with the approximately 1,000 loved ones at her “celebration service” that she knew they were sad, but she was in Heaven and would not want to come back. She shared how God had a purpose and if just one person had come to know Him through her battle with cancer, it was worth it. Her funeral was indeed a celebration of a life that was lived with intention and purpose. A worship band led her friends and family in singing songs that Janet had chosen herself. Her pastor, Phillip Smith, described her as a “jewel.” Hutch Kufahl, the youth pastor who worked side-by-side with her for 12 years gave her eulogy, and he had to choke back many tears as he lovingly shared just how amazing Janet was. Her brother gave the message and shared a timeline of important dates in Janet’s life — the most important being the day she gave her life to Jesus as a teenager. That day led up to Dec. 26, 2013, when she got to meet Him in person. Janet was the kind of woman who had about 35 best friends, and each one felt they were the most important person in her life. Some of them share just why Janet was so special: Susan Goss shares, “Janet Pate was a passionate lover of God, His people and life, and in every encounter I had with her, I felt His presence. She gave without being asked to give, she cared first about others before herself, she loved deeply, laughed until she cried and in every relationship she represented Jesus well. I love my friend Janet Pate — she always drew me to the Savior. We shared a favorite verse that I gave Janet two years ago with the onset of her cancer. It is Psalm 118:24, and it says, ‘This is the day The Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.’ I called Janet everyday for months, and we would recite this verse together. The first day Janet started her blog she wrote this verse and continued to write it everyday. It will forever be an extremely special verse to me.” Susan Byrum says, “Janet was a dear friend who saw life as a gift and lived each day with purpose, wanting to make the most of every opportunity to glorify Jesus Christ. Her friendship and Christ-like example were a wonderful blessing to myself and my family, and we are forever changed because of her influence on our lives.” “Janet, a very special friend, definitely lived out Matthew 5:16. She never met a stranger. She always let her light shine by loving others and always had a good time, giving God the glory for all things,” says Linda Cameron. Hutch Kufahl, her partner in ministry, shares, “I wish words could encompass Janet Pate, but they simply cannot. Bentonville is a better place because of her life, and I am a better man because of her influence. We are a better church because of her ministry.” His wife Maegan shares, “ Loving and being loved by Janet was one of the greatest gifts the Lord has given Hutch and me. We know the Lord has shown his favor on us by letting us be a small part of such a mighty person’s life.” “Janet made everyone around her feel special. One word that has been put on my heart to describe her is ‘intentional.’ She was intentional in her relationships with her family, her friends and every student she knew. Most of all, she was intentional in her faith, which was evident in the way she lived her life. She has inspired me to do just that: to live my life more intentionally. God truly blessed me with her friendship,” says Beth Whitlow. Lorrel Lyles shares, “When I think of Janet Pate, some of the things I think of are the words tenacity, fun, thoughtfulness, friendship, grace, love and a life lived intentionally. It was impossible to be with Janet and not see Jesus. In good times and in bad times, she never wavered in her faith. She always gave all glory and honor to God.” Additionally, Lisa Frank spoke of her compassion for others, Julie Gabardi talked about her confidence and courage, and Shonda Painter shared how she made her want to be a better person. I think Lyn Helsley summed it up best when she said, “Janet was a woman of deep faith. Her faith came from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When most people would have quit, that faith carried Janet through.” It’s hard to imagine staring death in the face and to know with full confidence that this life is not your home. Janet knew this was not the end, but just the beginning. She left behind a sweet, loving husband, Tony Pate, and a son and daughter, Bryan and Jordan, who are so much like their mother. Janet’s legacy will continue for years to come because she lived her life to the fullest and left with no regrets. She was full of faith and full of grace until the very end. It was a life we all hope to live.
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