Sybil Falconer

Pastor Walton spoke with Sybil Falconer this week. They discussed her journey from Jamaica to the United States, her salvation testimony, and ministry on Guam.

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Episode transcript:

Chris Harper: Welcome to Harvest Time. My name is Chris Harper, and our host on this program is pastor Gary Walton, the lead pastor at Harvest Baptist Church. Every week, we spend these 25 minutes together telling you the stories of our church by interviewing our members and other friends of the ministry. We’d like to invite you to join us at Harvest Baptist Church this week. We have 2 services, 1 at 8:45 AM, the other at 10:45 AM.

We have Spanish translation on offer during the 8:45 AM service and Japanese and Korean translation at 10:45, which is also when we livestream at, This week, we’re back in our series, investing in God’s kingdom. This is part 4 from 2nd Corinthians 9:11 through 15. Let’s begin today’s harvest time by welcoming pastor Gary Walton. Hi, Pastor.

Gary Walton: Hey. Hafa adai, Chris. It reminded me as you’re talking about the translation part. I don’t know that we talk about that very often but if, if it’s helpful for you for either that Spanish, Japanese or Korean, what You’ll sit right in the auditorium with everybody else.

It’s not a separate room. You’ll sit right in the auditorium with everybody else. It’s not a separate room. You’ll be able to hear the English service. But at the same time, we have a translator kind of upstairs in another room that will be, you know, given a specific translation.

And you can hear on the earpiece, you know, either Korean or, you know, the other languages. So, yeah, just checking in our welcome center. We’d love to have you be a part of that. And if that will help you, we want to make sure the word is being clearly understood by everybody that’s here. And so we’d like to welcome you to that as well.

We’re finishing up our series. It’s been a very short 4 part series studying through 2 chapters in the book of 2nd Corinthians. And 2nd Corinthians 8 and 9, we haven’t hit every verse but we really got the full picture, I think, of what, Paul was writing to the church at Corinth specifically about this area of generosity and giving for a specific project. And so we’ve tried to draw out some principles from that, some teaching that will help us in our walk. And we’ve just, reminded ourselves about this idea that faithfulness in this in this area of our finances of the stewardship of the resources that God has given us is such a critical foundation for us.

And so, let me invite you to come back on Sunday for this last session. It actually is our commitment Sunday. If you are listening and you are part of the Harvest family, you know that we have been talking about a welcome center project that God has been leading us towards and a little bit of a steward ship capital campaign for that project. This Sunday night, excuse me, this Sunday morning is the final push towards that. We are going to ask people for, to pray about an offering that they would be willing to give towards that project and then an opportunity to make a commitment over this next year, some ways that they can participate together.

And so we’re praying together that God would clarify, you know, direction for us and that there just be a generous outpouring of giving as a result of that. If you have any questions about that, you could reach out to our office. We can give you some more information as well on that. Well, we’re really glad to have with us a special guest on harvest time. It’s good to welcome Sybil Falconer, to Harvest Time.

Thank you for being with us, Sybil.

Sybil Falconer: You’re welcome. I’m happy to be here.

Gary Walton: Cybil’s been a part of our harvest family, and we really do mean family. And she’s been coming to harvest for a little bit more than 2 years. I think you just told me that your first time coming to the campus was for a ladies Christmas event.

Sybil Falconer: Yes.

Gary Walton: You were invited to that. And then a few months later, started coming to church. And then since, last year, mid year, started coming. I think you said every Sunday is what you said.

Sybil Falconer: Tried not to miss any Sunday. It was too good to miss.

Gary Walton: Sybil has such a great heart for the Lord and, cheerful demeanor and personality. Such a great part of our church family. She became a member, I think, in November of last year, and we’re so thankful for God leading her to harvest. From your accent, it sounds like you’re not from Guam.

Sybil Falconer: No. I’m not. I’m from Jamaica.

Gary Walton: Tell us a little bit about your background, where you grew up. And

Sybil Falconer: I grew up in Saint Andrew, which is outside of Kingston. My family was pretty small. It’s my dad, my mom, my brother, and I. And then we had lots of cousins on it, peripheral. But, family for us was you have to go to church every single Sunday.

Gary Walton: Mhmm.

Sybil Falconer: You must go to Sunday school and after Sunday school, you go to morning worship service. And then sometimes in the evenings, they would go back to church and then on Fridays, you go to youth fellowship. But church was really important, but it was only the church was important. I don’t think the teaching was there.

Gary Walton: Yeah. Yeah.

Sybil Falconer: So, I mean, you learn Bible verses and all of that in Sunday school, but there wasn’t any more land, you know. And it was, I don’t know what what stream you would call that, but it it was a a congregational church.

Gary Walton: Mhmm.

Sybil Falconer: So it wasn’t Baptist or anything. You know? Yeah.

Gary Walton: So I think you have such an interesting story, Sybil, both, you know, your background in spiritually. I’m I’m eager to ask you some questions about your spiritual story because of how God brought you along. But just personally, how long did you stay in in, Jamaica? And then what was the transition? I think you moved to the states.

Sybil Falconer: I left Jamaica when I was about 35. My daughter was 10 at the time and, she was interested in becoming a doctor. Mhmm. And I realized that living in Jamaica, I didn’t think I would be able to afford to give her that type of education. So I’d have to move to the states where there’d be more opportunities.

So I made that massive decision.

Gary Walton: Yeah. Really big decision.

Sybil Falconer: I moved with her to the states and interestingly, I moved with 42 US dollars and 2 suitcases of clothes. Wow. That was it. Yeah. Because at the time, you couldn’t take any money out of Jamaica.

Right? They were not loaning you $42.

Gary Walton: Wow. So So you’re trying to think about how to get your daughter, medical education and you have no money leaving Jamaica and you just figured it out. Right?

Sybil Falconer: Mhmm.

Gary Walton: Wow. Wow.

Sybil Falconer: I came to America, came and I stayed with friends and, she stayed with a friend and eventually, you know, the Lord worked things out. I was able to get that job, an apartment, and it was history from there. I mean, she went to school. She got into school. She was she realized that she needed to do the best she could in order to get the best that she needed.

Gary Walton: Yeah.

Sybil Falconer: Which she did. And, she worked hard and eventually she went through. She went into higher classes. She’s got to skip a couple classes because of her work that she did. And eventually, she did well.

Mhmm. And, she got a scholarship and she was able to go off to do our 1st degree.

Gary Walton: Yeah.

Sybil Falconer: And she went to RPI, Resignior Politic NIC NIC. And then after that, she went to the University of Buffalo for medical school and then she went to Duke to do her residency. Mhmm. And she also did a program at the the medical institute in Maryland. So she did well.

Thank God.

Gary Walton: Yeah.

Sybil Falconer: But you know what? It’s the goodness of God Yeah. That did all of that. Amen. Nothing that I did.

God was has been so good to me through my life.

Gary Walton: Amen. And

Sybil Falconer: I’m so thankful to him. I was telling somebody this morning, you know, the only thing I have forgot is thanks. Nothing else.

Gary Walton: Mhmm.

Sybil Falconer: I don’t complain because, you know, he provides over and above what I could ever ask or think.

Gary Walton: Yeah. Yeah. Yes. Well, you moved to a couple places. I think New York City originally.

Right? That’s where your friends were.

Sybil Falconer: To New York’s New York City and I stayed in New York for about 28 years.

Gary Walton: Okay.

Sybil Falconer: And then my daughter got married and she started having kids and she said, you know, you should come and and help me with the children. But I was so established in the church where I was at. I said to her, you know, I’m gonna have to pray about this and if the Lord wants me to come, he will release me. Yeah. So it took 3 years of praying and then when she was pregnant with a third child, she said, are you going to come?

And I said, yes. I’m going to come.

Gary Walton: Yeah.

Sybil Falconer: But I said, I have to figure out a couple of things. So I went and I spoke to my pastor and I told him because I was nervous that he was gonna say, why are you gonna do that? I need you here and so forth. But he said to me, you know, Sybil, you’re doing a very honorable thing. You’re going to help your daughter and your grandchildren.

You’ll be able to grow them and tell them about the Lord.

Gary Walton: Amen.

Sybil Falconer: That’s what he said to me. And I said, oh, wonderful. Yeah. And then when I went to tell my boss, he came with the same story. And I said, oh, thank you, Lord.

You’ve really made the way. Yeah. So, in December 2011, I retired from my job. I used to work for AT and T. So I retired and I moved to Michigan to move.

Gary Walton: To Ann Arbor, Michigan? Yes.

Sybil Falconer: Yeah? Yeah.

Gary Walton: And you were there for

Sybil Falconer: 10 years.

Gary Walton: 10 years. And then what brought you to Guam?

Sybil Falconer: My daughter wanted to leave the states. She wanted to find a job elsewhere off of the mainland. Right. And eventually, she found one in Guam. Yes.

So that was what brought us here.

Gary Walton: And we’re thankful for that. Well, for your daughter and her, you know, her medical experiences, it’s such a big need for us on Guam. We’re really thankful for her willingness to come along, with her husband and your family. And then it brought you here to us at Harvest, which is such a beautiful thing.

Sybil Falconer: Yes. I’m so excited to be at harvest. I really like it here. I really do.

Gary Walton: Let’s back up a little bit, Sybil, and talk about the spiritual story. You were telling us you grew up in, Jamaica. Church was a big part of your life, but maybe not necessarily your own personal relationship.

Sybil Falconer: Right. I mean, church was good. You will go to your fellowship and you do all these bible quizzes and it was all about, you know, who could get the highest score and Yeah. All of that. But it was not about having the word soak into you and living out the word.

Yeah. That was not really a part of it. It does more academic than anything else. So after, you know, after a while, sometimes I didn’t go to church and all of that. But when I came to the states now, then I realized that, you know, I need to start going back to church.

So there was a church that had a number of people who I had known from Jamaica. So I had gone there. And my daughter had gone there. And 1 week I did not go to church. But she went to their aunt and she came back and she said, mom, you know what?

There’s this pastor who started a series this morning and I know you would love him because he preaches like how you talk. So I said, okay. So the following week, I went. And you know it was really true. His sermon really touched my heart that day because you know he talked about we’re having a wonderful time living what we think is a wonderful life.

But he said, if you should get struck down today, where will you be? Mhmm. You know, and that really hit me. Mhmm. Where am I gonna be?

Am I gonna be in heaven? Am I gonna be in hell? What? You know?

Gary Walton: Yeah.

Sybil Falconer: And I I just had this feeling come over me. And I just got up from my seat and went up front. I don’t know how I did it, but I just did it. And, you know, they spoke. They prayed.

And then he said, you have to get into the believers class. The program then they have for people who come to know the Lord. And that I never had before. Right. You know, kinda I’ve made a decision way back in Jamaica.

Gary Walton: Well, let me ask you about that too. So you I think you told me that before. You had made kinda as an adult. Right? A decision in Jamaica.

And I think you told me something. It was the first time you really understood heard the gospel in the way that you understood. Right? Tell me about that. But then what happened with it?

Sybil Falconer: But the thing about that is there was no follow-up. There was nobody to say to you. Okay. This is what has happened, and this is how you know go forward to live this spiritual life. That was not there and I think the reason for that is because it was an evangelistic meeting.

Gary Walton: Okay.

Sybil Falconer: There were so many people that the church that sponsored it couldn’t manage the crowd.

Chris Harper: Yeah.

Sybil Falconer: So your people just fell by the way aside, and I was one of them.

Gary Walton: It’s really an interesting thing. You and I have talked about this before. In fact, even just before we got on air, That story is not that unusual. The evangelistic meeting was fantastic. You did understand the gospel.

There was a plea to come to Jesus and you did. You understood your need. It was more than just church attendance, all the things that you’ve done growing up. But, but there was nothing yeah. You just said that.

There was no follow-up. There was nothing after that. And we find that is so true. In fact, I’m guessing there’s people listening to your story, your testimony right now and they would say that, hey, I can look back in my past and I can find I remember very specifically a time when I met Jesus. I understood God’s call in my life, but I didn’t know what to do after that.

And so without somebody walking beside me and teaching and the, you know, the scriptures really becoming alive and somebody helping me to know what the next steps are. I I just sort of floated along and sometimes fell away after that. Mhmm. Yeah? Mhmm.

Sybil Falconer: And that’s it. So now for the first time, I’m able to get into a class and have structured instruction Yeah. And all of that. And then it led to baptism. And I said to myself, I want to teach this class.

So I told my pastor, I know I want to teach this class one day. Mhmm. One day. I want to teach this class because I realized that this is what was missing. The missing link from me Yeah.

The first time. So I lost all those years of not serving the Lord the way I should.

Gary Walton: How many years? Possible.

Sybil Falconer: I think it might have been let me see. About 8 8 years. Yeah. Yeah. You know?

And I could have you I could have been beneficial to the kingdom.

Gary Walton: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.

Sybil Falconer: I didn’t wanna talk to anybody else. So so I I was at this church with and, I was got very involved in doing stuff. I worked with the youth. I did Sunday school. Teach Sunday school elementary.

I worked in the women’s group. I love ushering. So I ushered. Mhmm. And the thing that I love about ushering is you get to know the people who are in the church and you get to pour love on them.

Gary Walton: You do. Yeah.

Sybil Falconer: You know? Yeah. You get to pour love on them. So I I did that and eventually I became the head usher. So I was teaching all the other ushers how to pour love on the congregation.

Gary Walton: That’s beautiful to know.

Sybil Falconer: It’s just good. Yeah. Right. So I, I did that for a number of years. Different aspects of ministry.

And then I taught my pastor said, you all let’s say you want to teach the believers class, so I’m going to give you instruction into which he did. And then eventually, I was teaching the believers class.

Gary Walton: Mhmm.

Sybil Falconer: So I would prepare all these people for baptism. Let me tell you, it was such I can’t express it in words how you feel when you go through and you explain the gospel to people. They understand, they learn, and then eventually they come and be baptized.

Gary Walton: Mhmm.

Sybil Falconer: It is truly amazing. I mean, I have left New York about 10, 13 years now.

Gary Walton: Mhmm.

Sybil Falconer: And I still have people who are in my baptism class who I’m in touch with.

Gary Walton: That’s amazing. Yeah. Sybil, at that time, you said, you know, everything kinda changed for you as far as your commitments. You had people that walked beside you just individually helping to teach you the word. Right?

And several people you’ve talked about your pastor. I think you’ve told me before, like, another

Sybil Falconer: There are a couple of deacons too. Yeah. Yeah. They they sort of took me under their wing. Yeah.

I think they realized that I had something to offer. And not only that, but I’m always willing to learn more so I can use what I learned to help people. Because I also love to help people.

Gary Walton: Yeah. Yeah.

Sybil Falconer: So they realized that. So they honed in on that and helped me.

Gary Walton: What things changed for you that, you know, that really gave you a hunger for that?

Sybil Falconer: Well, I saw a lot of people in the church, especially younger people who came to know the Lord, but they just didn’t seem to have that desire to want more of Jesus. More of Jesus. You know? So if I think if they had somebody who was exerting this enthusiasm, then it would be contagious.

Gary Walton: Yes.

Sybil Falconer: And, you know, they would get to meet that point. And there are a lot of them who always flocked around me because, you know, oh, you’re so you’re so wonderful. You’re so busy. So that it’s just the Lord. It’s not me.

You just have to give God a glory. Amen. I don’t take any glory because I don’t do anything. Every time I sit and I think about it, I said, God, you’ve been so good to me.

Gary Walton: Mhmm.

Sybil Falconer: So good.

Gary Walton: You’ve kind of been talking about this, but maybe I’ll make it a little bit more pointed. What does spiritual growth mean to you?

Sybil Falconer: Okay. For me, it means that I can never ever know everything about God and the bible. So I have this hunger to learn more and more and more and more because I want to finish well.

Gary Walton: Yeah.

Sybil Falconer: As Jackie would say, I want to finish well. And if I the more I get of God, then it better will be for me to finish well.

Gary Walton: 1st John tells us that somebody that is a truly a child of God, one of the marks of that person will be a hunger for the word. There’s several things that come up in first John that are sort of indications that we’re genuine believers. But one of them is, yeah, we really do want to know the teaching of the scriptures. We wanna be around believers, but we really wanna know what the word says.

Sybil Falconer: Yes. And you want to know the truth of it and you want to know it for yourself. You you have to be like the very end sometime, you know. You hear something and you go check it out and make sure it’s correct. And if you don’t understand, then you ask for an explanation from somebody who would know.

Gary Walton: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. So if you were to describe, this season of your life right now, what would you say is the big focus or the mission of, this season of your life?

Sybil Falconer: Well, I have been very concerned about wanting to be able to tell people more people about Jesus. And when I heard about that program that you are having I said God you’re so good you answered my prayers. Yeah. I really I really want to be able to tell them, but tell them in a way they can understand. I mean, I I know I can tell, but I want to be more proficient at telling.

Gary Walton: Sybil is talking about a class we just started called sharing my faith. It’s a, you know, 8 week class that we’ve been working together on. I think we have about 30 people in there. It’s really fantastic that just discovering what the Bible says, about how God created us specifically with our personalities and our gifting in order that we would be able to to, you know, reach others, that we’d be able to tell what Jesus has done for us in a way that other people would understand specifically because of the way that God made me. So we’ve been, having a great time in that class.

We finished week 2 and we’re on our way.

Sybil Falconer: Yes. We are. So that is really the highlight of it for me right now. I can’t wait to complete that so I’ll have more confidence to go out there and talk to people about the Lord.

Gary Walton: Well, Sybil, we’re so glad that God brought you to harvest. That was in his plan. First Corinthians 12 says, God is the one who puts the members in the body. And, when he does that, it means that the body needs that person and their gifting. And I know that we’ve needed you, and I’m excited to see the ways that God’s gonna use you to welcome.

I think that part that you’re so passionate about, God’s gonna use you to welcome a lot of people to harvest, but even more importantly, a lot of people to his family. And I’m so excited for that. So thank you for being willing to join us, today, praying for God’s blessing on you and your family and as you serve together with us here.

Sybil Falconer: Thank you so much.

Chris Harper: And thank you for listening to Harvest Time. Of course, at this point in the program, we always wanna personally invite you again to services at Harvest Baptist Church. Pastor mentioned how you would receive that, device for Spanish translation during the 8:45 AM service. You could do the same thing for Japanese and Korean translation during the 10:45 AM service. And you can listen to the 10:45 AM service live here on 88.1 FM and

We do hope to see you this Sunday. Thanks again for listening to Harvest Time.

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