New Castle News

June 17, 2013

Making a Difference: For Reatha Gibbs, making money comes in a distant second to serving God

Kayleen Cubbal
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — How many times have you been offered a raise, only to turn it down?

Never, maybe?

Reatha Gibbs has — on more than one occasion, in fact. And she says she will do it again if the opportunity — and the need — present themselves.

“Of course, I could have used the money, but the church needed it more,” the soft-spoken South Side resident said. “It was the right thing to do.”

The right thing for Gibbs is to give of her money, her time, her caring — to anyone crossing her path who happens to need it.

Gibbs, a secretary at Prevailing Word World Outreach Center in New Castle, was nominated as a “Person Who Makes a Difference” by Prevailing Word Apostle David Young Sr.

“Reatha gives of herself to our church and community with such energy, joy and a delightful disposition,” Young said.

Gibbs was born in Birmingham, Ala., moving to New Castle before the age of 1 with her mother, who had relatives here. She attended New Castle High School for a time and went on to receive her General Equivalency Diploma before attending New Castle Business College.

She worked various jobs over the years as her sons, Cornelius and Christopher Hood, now 44 and 40, respectively, grew into successful men. Her family now includes 13 grandchildren.

Several years ago, her secretarial skills and proficiency in graphic arts helped her land a job at Prevailing Word, where she uses her talents to help design newsletters and bulletins and is helping the church as it prepares for its 15th anniversary celebration.

“I was blessed with a bit of artistic ability and I like to put that to use when I can,” she said.

About 15 years ago, Gibbs was singing with Gordon Austin and some others, who ministered locally with their music.

The group made a stop at Golden Hills Nursing Home, where she met a 100-year-old woman named Edie Norman.

“Church was her life, but she was no longer able to get out to attend,” Gibbs said. “At first, she and I had a service, then I brought in someone to preach and I played piano and sang. We invited anyone who wanted to attend. The first service we had, the room was full. So we brought in someone to play guitar and made it a regular thing.”

Word got around quickly and before long, Gibbs and her group were ministering at Silver Oaks Nursing Home.

The group now holds services seven times a month at Golden Hills, Silver Oaks, Haven Convalescent Home and Lawrence County GeriCare, under the guidance of Elder Samuel Holmes.

“The residents love it and we love doing it,” she said. “They sing along with us and they clap and some dance.

“We go there to bless them, but they bless us so much in return.”

And then there is the salary.

“Reatha does get a small salary for her secretarial work at the church, but she refuses raises even when we offer them to her. She willingly gives up most of her paycheck and actually asked for a decrease in pay to help the church.

“She does everything for the glory of God.”

Gibbs also is a praise and worship leader at Prevailing Word and a frequent musical guest of People Concerned for the Unborn Child.

“If Reatha could help the whole world, she would,” Young said. “She has a mercy gift that is second to none. She is a true representative of what a Christian should be.”

Gibbs also is extremely humble and deflects the praise from herself. She recently wrote a children’s book, “The Very Old, Poor but Wise Man,” for which she is looking for a publisher.

“I stay pretty busy, but God helps me get it all done,” she said. “I wish I could do even more. I try very hard to lead my life in a good way and serve my God any way I can.”

(Email: kcubbal@ncnewsonline.com).