My wife and I used to be part of a small congregation in a little village north of Saskatoon. The biggest event of the year for this congregation was the Vacation Bible School that took place in our village and in a much larger nearby town (a suburb of Saskatoon). This program had been going for years and was far beyond the means of our little group. We put out a call for volunteer teachers and each year a different group of youth sisters, the majority from the USA, came to teach. Expenses were covered by Missions Canada of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.
Twenty years ago I was chairman of the group organizing the VBS, we had a list of teachers but still needed a superintendent. Someone gave us the name of a brother in Georgia who owned a hardware store and had a heart for children. I’m not sure if I had even obtained his phone number when my phone rang and a voice on the other end introduced himself in a pronounced southern accent. “My name is Jay Bullock. I heard that you folks up there are planning to hold Summer Vacation Bible School for the children of your community and I wondered if there was any way that I could help.”
Oh boy, were we ready to accept an offer like that! So Jay and his wife Mary flew into Saskatoon on the appointed date, rented a car and showed up ready to lead. It soon became evident that Jay was that special kind of leader that is called a rassembleur in French. I suppose the closest word in English is uniter, but that doesn’t really catch the sense of the way rassembleur is used in French, nor is uniter commonly used in English to describe a leader or manager. The best way that I can define rassembleur is to describe how Jay operated.
Jay came to a place he had never been before, to work with people he had never met before, and fit himself into circumstances as he found them. His uppermost thought always was that our goal was to tell children about the love of God. He gave suggestions, not orders. His compassion and enthusiasm moved us all – committee members, teachers and children – to work together smoothly and happily. He came back year after year for ten years. The two weeks spent here in Saskatchewan helping teach children about God were his idea of a vacation.
Last week Wednesday Jay suffered a stroke while on his way to a hardware convention and passed from this life the following Tuesday. He is survived by his wife, two married sons and their children, and by multitudes of people whose lives he touched.
Jay has written two books: Grandpa Tell Us a Story, published in April, 2022 and Say it While You Can: Tomorrow May be Too Late, which just came out yesterday. I have ordered copies from Amazon.ca, no doubt they can be obtained at other booksellers.