A Tribute to "My Friend", Rev. James Lawrence Green

By Siahyonkron Nyanseor

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 14, 2002

Sometimes it is not how long we live on this earth that matters, but how we live and what we did during our sojourn on earth that sets us apart from our friends and relatives. And it is always no telling how much we have impacted the lives of others such that in death we are still greatly missed. But of all our good or bad deeds on this earth, it is the care, compassion, goodwill, understanding and concern we show toward our fellow human beings that count the most. My friend and father, Rev. James Lawrence Green, was such a person, and this is why I have undertaken on these pages to remember him, honor him, and share with you his good deeds.

Rev. Green
I first got to know Rev. James Lawrence Green and his wife, Nancy, in 1986 through my cousin, who was their daughter-in-law, Mabel Jaryeneh Dargbe Green, a few years after I relocated from Philadelphia to Atlanta, the City that is “too busy to hate”. Rev. Green and Mother Green - as his wife is affectionately called-showed great love, respect, and admiration for Mabel as if she was their own daughter. And not long after Mabel introduced me to the Greens, I was always welcomed in their home and always treated as if I was a member of the family. The doors to the home of Rev. Green and Sister Nancy were not only opened to me, but to other fellow Africans in Atlanta, especially fellow Liberians since their son, Larry had lived in Liberia (1967 - 1990) where he met and married Mabel. In fact, Greens’ home became a place of refuge for many African students in Atlanta.

Rev. Green was a source of great knowledge and encouragement to me in many ways, and it was not difficult to cherish his love and concern for his fellowman once you got to know him personally as I did. I can remember on many occasions whenever I visited him, we would sit in his living room to discuss everything from the status of the then ongoing civil war in Liberia to topics on religion, politics, philosophy, ethics and the like. “My friend, what is happing in Liberia?” he would asked to kick-off our conversation, then joked that had it not been for the Liberian civil war, it would have taken a fleet of gunboats to bring his son, Larry Green, back to the US - Larry spent about 30 years in Liberia.

Rev. Green was such an unassuming and quiet man, but talk about religion, ethics, and current events and you would soon get to appreciate his wealth of knowledge and farsight as his face would gloat and an omen of puzzlement takes over you. But don’t take only my word for it. There was no doubt in my mind that a great friend, father, and counselor has left us to join the heavenly hosts of angels if you heard the many tributes paid to him at his wake-keeping and funeral by those who knew Reverend Green more than I did.

When we started our church, the International Christian Fellowship (ICF) here in Atlanta, Rev. Green was one of the key pillars we, the members, and our founder/pastor, Rev. William B. Harris, ran to for his wisdom and advice. He was a dependable friend who assisted us in whatever way he could to make establishment of our church fellowship a reality. Today, as we celebrate Jesus Christ in our church edifice, we thank him that He was able to bring a good man as Rev Green our way. But isn’t it amazing how God works in our lives! TRUE FRIENDSHIP "NEVER" ENDS. Friends are FOREVER. For good friends are like stars.... You don't always see them, but you know they are always there. Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget.

In this regard, someone once said: A Good Friend is “the siblings God forgot to give us.” And another said: "I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly." But as for those of us who were considered Rev. Green’s friends - we saw him as “a four leaf clover, HARD TO FIND and LUCKY TO HAVE,” because he made the world SPECIAL just by being in it. Most people walk in and out of our lives, but only friends leave footprints in our hearts.

In a family tribute, Reverend James Lawrence Green was remembered as the fourth of five children, who was born on Wednesday, May 8, 1918 in Malvern, Arkansas to Yancy William and Oddie Merriweathers Green. The influence of his father, a deacon, and a cousin, the pastor of the family church, resulted in his exposure to strong Christian values during his formative years.

As a mentor and a friend to many, Rev. Green was actively involved in religious, social and political activities. He was a founding member of the Concerned Black Clergy and served as an active member of the Atlanta Ministers Union.

He leaves to celebrate his life and mourn his transition, his wife, Nancy Mae; one son, Lawrence “Larry” Schaffner; four grandchildren, Lawrence Schaffner, Precious Jetawn, James Frederick, and Neiger Nanella; three great-grandchildren; two sisters, Melissa and Cleopatra; three nephews, Thomas Jr., Thurman Jr., and Emprey, Jr., six nieces, Oddie Mae, Betty Ann, Peggy, Susan, Sharon, and Melissa; and a host of other relatives and friends.

Rev. Green knows that his Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after his (Rev. Green) skin worms destroy his body, yet in his flesh, he shall see God. For “there shall be no more death, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.” So fare thee well, my friend, may your soul rest in perpetual peace! And I trust that the Great Lord will richly reward him for his great works on earth, and protect him until such time that we shall meet again. May his soul rest in perfect peace!

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