Naomi Rowe Francisco: A legacy of faith and love

April 28, 2020
by Lesley Francisco McClendon
Associate Pastor, C3 Hampton

Naomi Rowe Francisco wore many hats and went by many names: Sister Naomi, Neme, Aunt Neme, momma, sister, cousin, friend, grandma. She was known by hundreds of Calvary Christian Academy students and C3 members as Mother Francisco. I had the distinct privilege to call her Grams, and the privilege of being with my grandmother for most of my life. She moved into our home in 1994 and served almost like a third parent.

In delivering her eulogy in February, I summed up her life using Scriptures from Jude 20-23. The book of Jude details the key ingredients that I believe made up the very fabric of Naomi’s being: faith, hope, love, and prayer. These ingredients shaped her into the special person she was.

Build herself up in the faith

She first learned to build herself up in the faith, the first ingredient. What does that mean? It means that she had a desire to grow in the Word…however, she did not stop at desire, but she had follow-through. This type of faith is most holy because it’s set apart from other beliefs. Her confession was that the words of God flowed from her lips, creating an atmosphere of God’s presence where she went. The only way she could do that is if she knew the Word of God. So she made it a point to feast on the Word of God and speak life-giving words that would lift her up, and also others. She wouldn’t let you complain or speak negatively.

Pray in the Spirit

The second ingredient of Naomi’s “secret sauce” is that she would often pray in the Spirit. When she first got saved and I’m sure on other occasions, too, she was struggling to live the Christian life. She believed that in order to walk this life, you must be filled with the Holy Spirit. Now many people have different views on this, but the infilling of the Holy Spirit is what got her through most days. She also believed, as I do, that if you want the gift of the Holy Spirit all you have to do is ask, and then thank God that you’ve already received it. She believed in Ephesians 6:18 – Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints.

She committed Thursday of each week as a day of thanksgiving to God. That was her day not to ask God for anything but to thank God for everything. She said all her trials came on that day. That’s where she got the ability to declare in everything, not just for everything, give thanks!

She told me that worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere, and that’s why you have to cast all your cares on Him cause he cares for you. She taught me that a problem not worth praying about is not worth worrying about. Even as many of us were facing challenging times or obstacles, she would often say, “May joy go with you, peace follow behind you.”

Naomi Francisco (center) with her husband, Bishop Leslie II, along with their sons (from left) Myron, Leslie III, and Steven. VMC Archives

Remain in God’s Love

The third ingredient for Naomi was cultivating a love relationship with Christ by abiding in the love of Christ. If you don’t love God, it’s very difficult to love other people. She would challenge you to keep yourself in God’s love. It is God’s part to keep man; but it is man’s part to keep himself in the love of God.

Because she was so full of the love of God, she went easy on those who hesitated in the faith or didn’t understand it one hundred percent. She went after those who went the wrong way. She was tender with those who didn’t always get it right, but not soft on sin.

She allowed people to be who they are without judgment, even before the popular saying of “Only God can judge me.” Because she loved God rightly, my grandmother had the biggest heart! She had a certain sensitivity about her that it didn’t matter what age or stage you were in life, she saw you as Jesus would see you.

She was the epitome of grace and truth. Salvation meant something to her. She realized here on earth that she didn’t accept Christ just to secure a better life after this one, she got saved to serve. She would snatch people from dangers seen and unseen.

She had a gift of discernment. She knew if she needed to give you some encouragement over coffee and also when it was time to give a more direct approach. She had this gift about her, where she could offend you in love and you’d walk around feeling honored. It reminds me of someone being on fire and in need of rescuing. You don’t reach out your hand gently and say, “Can you come here please?” You get them out by any means necessary! She had this kind of by-any-means-necessary love, often coupled by a hearty slap on the back with a loud laugh.

The three ingredients that made up Mother Naomi’s life of faith and who she was has the power to transform all of us into who we are called to be:
1. Build yourself up in the faith
2. Pray in the Spirit
3. Remain in God’s love

In addition to being a woman of strong faith, Naomi had a deep abiding love for all of her children, both natural and spiritual. I leave you with a personal prayer she hand wrote in her journal that I found as I was going through some of her things….

My goal is to please God. All I want to do is to please and do the will of God.

Our children are our investment. We invested our love, time and whatever God told us to invest in them to raise them up to be men of God. Now we are reaping the investment we put in them. Whatever you put in your children when they are growing up, you will reap in the end. We are reaping an abundance of love, joy, peace, and financial blessing as I see my sons living for the Lord. I lack for nothing.

Love you, my sons and daughters, grand, great grand, great-great grand—which I probably will never see some of you in this life, and we dare not forget all of our spiritual sons and daughters. Keep up the good thing God has put in you.

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