Rescue Mission Ministries

New Home on 4th Street

The Tazewell Methodist Church and adjoining property were purchased as a future site of the Mission. The condemnation suit with the City had been settled to the satisfaction of the board. TA Carter was asked to design the new mission building to be located on 4th Street in SE.

The Rescue Mission moved into their new building in 1973 (enough funds were raised to finish paying for the building by the end of the year).

In December of that year, Lois suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized. On the day she went home, Gus Johnson suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized. Their daughter Joy was completing her first semester at Southern Seminary in Louisville and their son Wayne was graduating from Perdue University in Indiana and preparing for a wedding December 29 in Ft. Wayne to his fiancé Jenny.

Gus died the next day and was buried on a snowy Christmas Eve 1973. Joy led the Mission in the traditional children’s “Happybag Program” and Christmas Feast. She then drove Lois (who was too sick to fly) to the wedding in Ft. Wayne.

Due to Lois’s health, Joy did not return to seminary the next semester, but remained in Roanoke to help direct the Mission until Lois was well enough to continue.

Lois was named the Executive Director of the Rescue Mission in January of 1974. During that year she was called to the men’s shelter division when a man refused to come out of the shower area and the staff was too afraid to go in after him. She told the man that he had better come out or she would be coming in. The man responded “…Come on in, the water’s fine.” It was at that moment Lois decided there were some things that required a “man” in the running of the Mission.

A year later (1974), Lois married George Bettis. George became the Associate Director of the Mission and took on the responsibility of the physical plant.

In 1985 Joy was asked to come to Roanoke from her home in NY to accompany Lois (who had suffered another heart attack) to the IUGM Convention in Seattle WA. While at the convention, Joy and Lois had a very significant meeting with two other women, Mrs. Leonard Hunt and Mrs. Herbert Eberhardt.

In this meeting, Mrs. Hunt (who had been present at Gus’ conversion at the United Rescue Mission in Chicago) told Lois and Joy about the event half a century before when Gus had prayed for a baby and dedicated that “hoped for child” to God’s service. Mrs. Eberhardt, retired from the Washington DC Mission (who had been such an encouragement to Lois in the early days of the Roanoke Mission) also confided that she had been praying for Joy to work at the Roanoke Rescue Mission since 1968, when she was still a student at Taylor University in Indiana.

Lois confided to the women that due to her health issues she was very concerned about the future of the Rescue Mission and she had been praying that her son Wayne might come and direct the Mission, but that he did not see himself in that role. Mrs. Eberhardt gently suggested that Lois might have been praying for the wrong child.

The four women retired to Mrs. Eberhardt’s room and had a season of prayer in which they prayed for God’s discernment about Joy coming to direct the Rescue Mission in Roanoke.