Who would have thought that a girl from east Mississippi and a descendant of an east European family could have joined together and made such a great combination and created such a great impact upon the Lord’s church in Baldwin County, Alabama? Such is exactly what happened when Helen Curtis met John Chupek. Today the Eastern Shore church of Christ honors these two fine Christians for their years of labor in the Kingdom of God.
John’s background was typical of many immigrants to this country. His parents spoke almost no English and John grew up speaking Czech. At that time, atheism was the faith of many from east Europe and so John had little in the way of a church upbringing. Helen however, enjoyed a deep faith in God which she displayed to Johnny. Over time, John would come to see the reality of her faith in the practice of her daily life. It was this demonstration of the Lord’s love that eventually caused him to consider and finally submit to Jesus Christ.
John was a hard working man, having labored long in the farming fields of Baldwin County as a youngster. He discovered a talent in auto body repair and before long found himself with his own auto body shop in Fairhope. By his side was his trusted wife Helen who handled the books. Through much hard work and a solid reputation for honest, reliable work, John and Helen prospered. Two children would bless the marriage with the auto body business eventually passing to Son, Sid. Sid would also work hard and would see the business to grow to three shops throughout the county. Today, a third generation continues the body shop work through Grandson Chad, the President, and granddaughter Kandi. More importantly, their entire offspring have been raised in the body of Christ.
While growing his business, John and Helen were also growing their faith. Faithful in attendance at the Fairhope congregation John eventually became an elder. It’s not exactly clear when John first served but it was at least as far back as the 1970’s. As time passed and the area grew, John and Helen played a central role in planting what is today the Eastern Shore church of Christ in Daphne. John has served this congregation as an elder and finally, on October 5, 2008, resigned from the eldership.
As fellow-elder Scott Kelly observed when reading John’s resignation to the congregation, “no man serves as an elder alone.” Certainly he was right. John has enjoyed Helen’s steadfast support throughout his years of service. She has served alongside John as a frequent ladies Bible class teacher, a oft counselor to young ladies, an organizer of various church events and even took responsibility for the cleanup of the church kitchen. John likewise has served as a teacher, a leader in worship and for a very long while undertook the job of cutting the grass at the church. He has often given his abilities in various areas of repair and maintenance at the building. No job has been too small or too insignificant.
I recall with joy my earliest days at Eastern Shore. John and I would meet on Thursday mornings to go and visit. John and Helen kept a small notebook with the names of those they visited so that no one would be left out. Truly, these two fine Christians served out of a sense of love for every member. While we are saddened that Johnny will no longer serve as an elder, we know that his and Helen’s love for the Lord is not lessened. They will still be among the first to arrive and will always have a special place in our hearts. God will grant unto them the eternal reward but we will make do here with a sincere “Thank You” for all their work. We are where we are because of people like John and Helen Chupek.
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