By Becky Walters Reigel
Whenever people speak of Wilma Wallace, they almost always use
the words mother or grandmother with good reason.
Wallace, 68, a lifetime resident of Chicago and longtime member
of Southside Tabernacle (Assemblies of God), is the mother of 10
children and two stepchildren, grandmother of nearly 50, and great-grandmother
shes "mothered" so many others in her neighborhood
and in the church over the years, that even she has lost count.
"I have always loved kids. I was baby-sitting when I was 10,"
"All the kids call me grandmother every child in the
and the ones that are my childrens ages call
Its true, says her daughter, Laverne Davis, business administrator
at Southside Tabernacle. "Shes grandmother to everyone,
everywhere she goes. On her block, she is everybodys grandmother.
Shes the kind of person you can go to her house and eat. She
sits down and listens to you."
Demetrius Balentine, a 16-year-old Wallace taught when he was a
preschooler, agrees: "Shes like the grandmother of the
church. Shes the teacher. Shes someone you can pray
with, talk to, laugh with
someone you can count on."
Thats "Mother Wallace" for sure, her pastor, Spencer
Jones, says. "You can count on her like you can count on the
sun coming up. She is a kid fanatic. Ive never seen anyone
who loves children as much as she does. Shes just a mother
figure. The kind of person you can talk to, go to and shell
understand and pray with you. Shes greatly admired."
Wallaces mothering, hard work and faithfulness are making
a difference, Pastor Jones says. Presently, Mother Wallace teaches
a class of Southsides 2- to 4-year-olds 12 of them
in all, but shes taught children of various ages for years.
Shes also been an integral part of the southwest Chicago churchs
evangelism and bus ministry, often filling a bus herself.
"She almost packs the bus every Sunday morning," says
Pastor Jones. "Its incredible. If I had five or 10 of
her, I wouldnt have room to put people here. Shes heavily
involved in door-to-door evangelism two Saturdays a month."
And Wallace doesnt stop there. She cooks meals for those
who have lost loved ones, serves on the churchs missions board
and is a faithful prayer warrior. "Every week, we have 24 hours
of prayer from Friday night to Saturday evening," Pastor Jones
says. "She always takes the last three hours from 3 to 6 p.m."
Many prayer hours are spent for the children she teaches. "I
just pray so hard for the children," Wallace says, and she
knows God is answering. Shes seen many students make decisions
for Christ over the years. Some, including David Burson, youth pastor
at Southside, have become ministers.
A life transformed
Mother Wallace is also a testimony of how God can transform a life.
"My mother was an alcoholic for over 20 years before the Lord
saved her," Davis explains.
Mother Wallace says she was delivered from alcoholism nearly 15
years ago but the road to restoration had begun years earlier,
through a series of events.
Nearly 24 years ago, Pastor Jones wife, Kathy, knocked on
the Davises door to leave a message for a neighbor who wasnt
As a result, Davis accepted Christ and began attending Southside
Tabernacle where shes worked at various positions in the church
office for 22 years.
Though some might call the series of events "coincidental,"
Jones is sure the visit was in Gods plan for Davis and her
family. The "wrong door," he says, turned out to be the
right one and the first step toward a spiritual awakening
for the family.
"Since I came to church I had been praying God would save
my family," Davis says. "We started inviting Mom to church
on special days. She lived on the east side [of Chicago] then. The
first one He saved was my mother."
Since then, her husband, oldest daughter, father, a brother and
a sister have also accepted Christ as Savior.
The change in her mother was immediate, Davis recalls. "After
the Lord saved my mother, she stopped drinking and became busy in
"I gave myself fully to the Lord there," Mother Wallace
says. "I had backslidden."
Now she uses her testimony of Gods delivering power to encourage
"I tell them all the time," she says, explaining that
God delivered her from alcohol while she was praying in her kitchen.
"I just lost the taste for it I prayed to lose it."
much to do
In the years since Mother Wallace recommitted her life to Christ,
shes joined Davis in praying for family members salvation.
Children and grandchildren are "coming in,"
Her grandchildren have been a part of her evangelism thrust. "The
grandchildren, I raised up in church," she says. "I put
them on the church van."
Now, more than 20 are serving the Lord.
At 68, Wallace says God is still working on her and molding her
life. She refuses to let age or health problems keep
her from serving the Lord and others.
Some at the church, including her daughter and Pastor Jones, have
expressed concern that Wallace may be taking on too much with the
job teaching the 2- to 4-year-olds. "We try to get her to slow
down," Pastor Jones says.
"I say, Grandmother, after all these children, you still
want to work with kids? But she loves them," Davis says.
Theres so much the little ones need to learn, Wallace says.
"I teach them Bible verses and little songs
manners, to be quiet when someones talking, to raise your
hand, to not speak before youre spoken to."
Plus, the rewards are great, she says. "It just makes my heart
feel good. I like to have them all around me. It just lifts me up."
Poor circulation in her legs sometimes causes her to have trouble
walking, but Wallace has too much to do to slow down. "Satans
a liar," she says. "When the Lord tells me Im healed,
Im healed. Im not going to be helpless."
She has people to pray for; preschoolers to teach; hearts to comfort;
and a city to reach child by child.
"Someone asked me to teach 2- to 4-year-olds and I said, Id
be glad to take that age.
"Whenever someone asks me to do something, if I can do it,
I do it," Mother Wallace says.
She pauses, then continues with conviction: "Oh yes, Ill
be glad for Him to use me."
Becky Walters Reigel lives in Springfield,