“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 15:58) Every time I read this verse, I can’t help but think of my Father-in-Law, Perry Mayton. He lived out this verse in his daily life before his family, and every person who knew him.
Perry Mayton was born January 3, 1919 in the small city of Harriman, Tennessee. God was preparing Perry’s heart to serve Him through two tragic events in his childhood. His dad died when he was six years old and his mom died when he was a teen. These tragic events would help give Perry a compassionate heart as he ministered to people throughout his life.
Harriman was a city filled with gospel preaching churches. As a result, Perry accepted the Lord as his Savior during his teenage years. For a few years he didn’t grow in his faith, but God was preparing him for future ministry. After leaving the army, Perry began working in one of the mills in Harriman. During that time, he met his future bride Iva Olmstead. In 1948, they married. Soon after the wedding, Perry believed that the Lord had called him into the ministry. He demonstrated this calling by his faithfulness in serving the Lord for over fifty years.
There are several things that stand out in Perry’s life and ministry. One thing that always impressed me was his tireless service for the Lord. During most of the years of his ministry, Perry also had to work a day job. This meant that he would work all day and then take on the demands of a pastor during the evening and Sunday. I never heard him complain because he found great joy and peace in serving the Lord.
I was also impressed with Perry’s knowledge of the Word of God. He never had much formal Bible training, but he knew the Word of God. He understood the doctrines of the Bible as well as any person who had formal training. He loved to study His Bible. His passion for God’s Word is expressed by the Psalmist in Psalm 119:16: “I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.”
Perry also had a compassionate heart towards others. He showed concern for any person in need. He had a special compassion for the lost. A few times, I would go with Perry when he did his weekly radio broadcast. His passion for the lost was clearly seen as he would plead for the lost to repent of their sin and turn to the Lord as their Savior. He had the unique gift of having both the heart of an evangelist and a pastor.
The fourth thing that impressed me about Perry was his great spirit of humility before God and others. I never heard him talk about any of his accomplishments. He did God’s work and didn’t think about the praise of men. He sought to please God alone. This humility was obvious to any person who had Perry as their pastor.
The greatest impact that Perry had upon my life was through his daughter, Sharon. Perry did a great job of preparing his daughter for being a wife and mother. Sharon understands to this day what it means to minister in a local church. Her father also taught her how to love the Word of God and minister to people with a heart of compassion.
Perry was quite well-known in the Harriman area because he had been the pastor of several local churches. I never heard anybody say a bad thing about “Brother Perry”. He was beloved by the people in his churches and he loved them. He would continue to minister via the radio and preaching in churches until his health kept him from doing what he always loved.
On September 1, 2003, Perry would enter into the presence of His Savior. The funeral visitation was a great testimony to his over fifty years of ministry. The line to greet Perry’s widow, Iva, went outside of the doors of the funeral home. Many people told us how God had used Perry in their lives. The outpouring of love was a testimony to Perry’s faithfulness in his service to the Lord.
Yes, Perry is missed by his family, friends and many of those to whom he ministered; however, his testimony lives on in the lives of many people. The words of Matthew 25:23 apply to the life of Perry Mayton. “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant;” Perry has finished his labors here on earth, but his legacy lives on through his family and many others who were blessed by his ministry.