The theology and practice of evangelism
Susan Lee Denison was born May 27, 1962 in Austin, Texas. She fought a long, intense and courageous battle with cancer before being gently lifted into her Father’s arms on September 29, 2004. She left behind a beautiful daughter, Katherine Ann, a loving husband, Jeff and adoring parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, and extended family and friends. Because her passion for missions touched so many lives, her parents Mr. and Mrs. John Wilkinson, are privileged to dedicate “The Theology and Practice of Evangelism” in her memory.
Susan radiated sunshine and positive encouragement to everyone she met. She became a Christian at 12 years of age, at the same time as her younger sister Carolyn, and her childhood was filled with exhibits of Godly love toward others. Susan was the oldest sibling and took great care of her younger brother and sister, helping them with her actions and “oldest child” wisdom. She was the assured encourager that prompted them to lead Godly lives, even as they grew into adults. As a youth, Susan loved participating in her church youth group in Hickory, NC and was a fun and active part of the Friday night youth group get-togethers, the mission trips to Glorieta, New Mexico, and she sang in the youth choir.
As a young adult, Susan never faltered in her belief in a loving God. Although she lived in many places, she always found a church home. Finally, she, Jeff and Katie settled in Rapid City, South Dakota and she became an active member of Canyon Lake United Methodist Church. Susan dedicated herself to parenting Katie, supporting Jeff, to the missions program at Canyon Lake, and to her community through many volunteer activities. But it was her mission work that focused all the other endeavors. Susan truly believed that everything she did, no matter how small, reflected God’s love. This was realized through her unwavering integrity, her gracious acceptance of everyone regardless of circumstances, her willingness to serve from the most menial of jobs to the most demanding, and her support of all forms of evangelism. She served on the Missions Committee for several years, supporting any and all activities that served God’s kingdom. Sue encouraged her pastor to lead his church in a study of “The Purpose Driven Life,” and hosted a small group for this event. She ministered to her many friends in Rapid City on a personal basis, always delivering food and helping care for them when they were ill or in need. She supported foreign mission work through her church, and with financial support of her aunt and uncle in their mission work in South Africa. And for everyone, she had a smile and encouraging and gracious word. Susan truly lived to encourage others through her words and actions. This was especially true in raising her daughter Katie. Susan loved her husband and daughter and made sure they had a warm, loving, and supportive family environment. Even today, her effort shines in the wonderful young lady that Katie is becoming, reflecting her mother’s social skills, integrity, love for the Lord, and positive personality.
Susan faced her battle with cancer with stoic determination. No matter how long or how difficult the treatment became, she refused to say anything negative and indeed managed to encourage her family and even others with cancer. Susan made many trips to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for treatment, along with family members who went with her. Even then she loved to shop for small gifts for family and friends, go to the movies, and could tell you where to get the best food in town. And even during treatments, she was often writing birthday cards, thank you cards, or notes to friends.
Acts 1:8 records Jesus’ words: “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Susan left a legacy of Godly love that has reached from her family (Jerusalem), to her church (Judea), her community (Samaria), and to the foreign mission field (the ends of the earth). She woke from a near coma a few hours before her death and simply said “God has a wonderful plan for me.” She then went back to sleep and died peacefully a short while later. We were blessed beyond all understanding by Susan’s presence in our lives.
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