Hundreds gathered on Monday to remember the life and legacy of Lois Evans, wife of pastor Tony Evans and co-founder of the Urban Alternative, at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas.
The “Celebration of Life” service for Lois Evans was held one week after she died of biliary cancer at age 70. The four-hour event was filled with music, celebration, and touching tributes to the late founder of the Pastors’ Wives Ministry.
The service opened with a music tribute from CCM artist Kirk Franklin, who described Tony Evans as his “spiritual father” and said the Evans were like “parents” to him for over 22 years.
Pastor Bobby Gibson, associate pastor of the Fellowship Ministry at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, officiated the service. He said Lois Evans didn’t want a “dull service” — “so we come to celebrate,” he said.
The Rev. Martin E. Hawkins, founding member of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, said the church was celebrating a “life well-lived” and would hear “chapter after chapter” of “how good it was.” He described Lois Evans as an exemplary wife and mother who “lived the life” rather than just “talking it.” Her influence had a “national and international” impact, he said.
Attendees also heard from Evans’ grandchildren, who fondly reflected on their “Nonny” and her dedication to her husband, family and ministry, and vowed to carry on her legacy.
Jackson Shirer, son of the Evans’ daughter, Priscilla Shirer, read from Psalm 91, while Jesse Hurst III, son Evans’ daughter Chrystal Evans Hurst, read from 1st Thessalonians.
Chrystal Evans Hurst remembered her mother as someone who would stay until the last person who wanted to talk to her was finished talking.
“When she was talking to you, she saw you. Well, the gift that she gave to so many of you was a gift she gave to us too,” Hurst said, sharing how each of the Evans children felt “seen” by their mother.
“She saw us and made sure we knew we were seen by her,” she said. “She loved her life.”
Hurst closed her message by singing a rendition of one of her mother’s favorite hymns, “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.”
Evangelist Priscilla Shirer shared how, shortly before her death, her mother said, “They’re trying to give me an award, but they can’t find the right song.’”
“She said that over the course of two or three days, intermittently,” Shirer recalled. “About a week later, Dad and I were in the room and we started playing worship songs. I picked a random worship song off my playlist, and as it started to play, she opened her eyes and said, ‘That’s the song.’”
Jonathan Evans then played the song their mother identified, titled “The Victory Belongs to Jesus.”
“We have victory in Jesus Christ. She is justified and called and glorified,” he declared. “We have victory in Him because He has already overcome the world. I am afflicted but I am not crushed ... we have victory in Jesus Christ. I am strengthened in Him.”
“My mom was a great player on His team,” he continued. “My mom's life summary was, ‘Lois served the purposes of God. She was an imprint to her generation and then she fell asleep.’”
Jonathan Evans also addressed the issue of the seemingly unanswered prayers that so many prayed for his mother.
Jonathan said God spoke to him about the prayers, saying, “Just because I didn’t answer your prayer your way doesn’t mean I didn’t answer the prayer anyway.” He concluded that either way, God did answer their prayers. “Either she was going to be healed or she was going to be healed. Either she was going to live or she was going to live,” he said.
“My mom would want me to let you know that if you’re writing your summary and you don’t like what it says and you’re sitting here breathing right now, you need to walk out these doors and live in such a way that you rewrite it,” Jonathan Evans concluded. “Because every man and woman ... wants to hear what my mom has already heard: ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Well done.’ My mom served the purposes of God. How do you know that you’re serving God? Simple. Somebody’s impacted.”
Shirer added that her mother’s primary interest was that her children develop a personal relationship with the Lord and grow a legacy of faith.
“If there is one thing you can do in honor of my mother, it's do not let your hearts be troubled,” Shirer said. “It’s to believe that the God of Ephesians 3:20 and 21 is still who He said He is. ‘Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond anything you can ask or think, to Him be the glory both now and forevermore in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Anthony Evans, who sang “Fighting For Us,” shared that his mother functioned like a “shock absorber in their family.” He said the way she handled the stress of their father’s ministry made it so the rest of the family was minimally impacted.
In addition to family, various friends of Lois Evans reflected on her life and impact throughout the service.
Sonny and Christie Acho of Living Hope Bible Fellowship Church reflected on Evans’ “grace in handling ministry difficulties,” in her marriage, and in raising “powerful kids.”
“She did everything she did with grace,” he said.
Pastor Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle reflected on Lois Evans’ “humility.”
“I never saw her draw attention to herself,” he said. “She wasn’t pushing herself forward ever, but always encouraging other people. ... She was such a person filled with love … thank God for the love and kindness Lois had.”
“Everyone who knew Lois knew that the Word was her first love. Her husband was her second. Her family was her priority and her church was her assignment,” Devi Titus, a friend of Lois, said in tribute.
Paul Cannings spoke on behalf of Lois’ siblings and attributed her character to their parents: “We have to stop saying that people die. We have to say that He lives,” he stressed.
The Evans family is still grieving the death of Tony Evans’ father in November, the unexpected loss of Evans' sister, Beverly Johnson, who died last January, along with his niece, Wynter Pitts, who also died last year, and his brother who died six months before that.
On Dec. 30, Tony Evans revealed that Lois was with him and their four children when she died.
"Just before the sun came up this morning, the love of my life, Lois Irene Evans, transitioned from earth and watched her first sunrise from Heaven,” he wrote at the time.
"I had the privilege of holding her hand as she was lulled into eternity. Our four children surrounded her as well. As she slipped away, we told her how much we love her, how proud we are of her, and how thankful we are for the life she has lived."
On his Instagram account, he asked that in lieu of flowers, those wishing to support the family and honor Lois could send flowers to their own pastor's wife.
“Lois loved receiving flowers but she also loved giving them,” Evans said in the post. “Because her passion was ministering to pastors’ wives and making sure they felt loved and cared for, your gift of flowers in her memory would be a gift to us as well.”