She liked to tell others her life story, friends remember, and it was one that she often would characterize as “not so pretty” but it got her “to the Lord.”
Sister Stafford was born in Wyatt, Mo., and lived in a number of states and cities principally in the north before moving to Lebanon.
In her early years she earned money picking cotton with her mother. She would say the work was hard and not very financially rewarding.
It was not long after her days in the cotton fields that she learned there was an easier way to make a living. Sister, as she was known to many, said for a number of years she earned her spending money serving in the ranks of a prostitute.
“I did it all,” she once said, adding she had used drugs, abused alcohol and “sold my body to men.”
But after these life experiences she sought “something better,” and she found it. She found God, she would proudly tell anyone from a stranger she had just met to an acquaintance of a few days earlier to a person with whom she had been praying for some period of time.
Sister Stafford didn’t try to hide her past. She knew it was not something for which to be proud but she wanted others to know the blessing she had received from finding her religion, her relationship with God.
She would say, recalling her ways of the past, that she had a single child but didn’t even know who his father was.
In 1969 Sister Stafford came to Lebanon to lead a Pentecostal church, the Church of God of Prophecy. She attributed coming to Lebanon as a calling from God.
Most recently her ministry was directed from the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name located on the Carthage Highway.
While much of her focus was on helping those locally, she was not adverse to preaching the Gospel and traveling worldwide.
Her mission trips took her to Africa, South America, Australia, China and literally to provinces and countries all over the world.
She would leave in an instant if she found there was an immediate need. A hurricane, an earthquake, or any disaster of significant magnitude would cause her to pack her bags and travel to the troubled area.
Once asked if she was afraid or intimidated to travel alone she answered, “I never go by myself. I always travel with three others, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”
Funeral services for Sister Stafford, who attended Cumberland University, will be held Thursday, May 19. Family visitation will be from noon until 1 p.m. with the funeral to follow at Heaven’s View Baptist Church, 310 Coles Ferry Pike, Lebanon. Pastor Jeffrey Huddleston is to serve as eulogist. Interment will be in Mt. Lebanon Memorial Gardens.
CEO and Publisher Sam Hatcher may be contacted at email@example.com.