Lois Evans, wife and ministry partner of Dr. Tony Evans, was laid to rest on January 6, 2020, at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Texas where she led a large congregation with her husband.
The service, called a “celebration of life and legacy” for the late Dr. Evans, was attended by numerous family members, friends, ministry partners, and others from across the country and around the world. Others from around the world also likely viewed the homegoing service that was provided via livestream provided by the church.
During the hours-long service, family and friends spoke lovingly of Evans life, personality, and character. It was clear that she left a lasting impression on those who admired her commitment to her faith, family, and serving others.
Evans died on December 30, 2019, at the age of 70 from biliary cancer. It was her husband, Tony Evans, who shared the sad news on social media.
At her homegoing service, all four of her children spoke about their mother, with her youngest child, Jonathan Evans, giving a particularly rousing testimony about how he wrestled with God over her death.
Read Lois Evans’ obituary, as shared in the program provided to attendees of her “celebration of life and legacy” on January 6.
Dr. Lois Irene Evans – A Celebration of Life and Legacy (12/1/1949 – 12/30/2019)
Dr. Lois Irene Evans, born Lois Irene Cannings to the late James Basil and Annie Eleen Cannings on December 1, 1949, in Guyana, South America, lived her life in full expression of the Proverbs 31 woman. The third of eight children, Lois was raised in a Christian home where she was taught the Word of God and the importance of living a life of integrity, strong character and excellence.
At the age of nine, Lois accepted Christ as her mother knelt with her and her older sister and led them both to the Lord. Lois later committed her life to ministry at the age of 15, promising the Lord that she would live her life dedicated to His purposes. From that time forward, she devoted herself faithfully and wholeheartedly to serve her Savior in each season of her life.
Lois was a talented and fun-loving young woman who enjoyed life and wanted to take advantage of every opportunity to learn, grow and experience the world. As a girl, Lois attended St. Angela’s Primary School where her paternal aunt was the headmistress. She later attended Tutorial High School and was also involved with Youth for Christ, a global outreach program for high school students, volunteering her time by serving in the office and singing in the choir. Lois took her faith seriously and received a strong spiritual foundation at the Camp Street Brethren Church where her family attended. Even as she grew and availed herself to be discipled in her own relationship with Christ, Lois willingly served by teaching little ones in Sunday school.
As a teenager, Lois was known to be lively and often the center of attention. Extroverted in nature, Lois enjoyed spending time with family and friends. She loved riding her bike or riding on the handlebars of a bike her brother peddled. She spent time hanging out at the sea wall with family and later with friends, when her older siblings were available to chaperone. Lois also enjoyed spending time in the kitchen. Even as a young woman, Lois loved cooking. She was known to go to the market for food and then come home to cook for her family. While Lois’ social circle kept her busy, she also valued her close relationships with her good friends, Marianne, Brenda and Valerie.
Lois was always musically inclined. While she would grow up to record two albums, start a music ministry in her local church, and travel and sing all over the world, Lois developed and nurtured her musical abilities as she served the Lord in her local church as a teenager. Lois had a uniquely beautiful and rich contralto voice.
She sang in a trio as a teen and traveled to the United States when she was 16 to perform. Lois didn’t just sing, she also played the piano. When Lois showed an interest in music, her parents provided piano lessons. When it became clear that Lois enjoyed playing the piano, and was skilled in doing so, Lois was asked to teach piano to beginning students. Later, Lois furthered her musicianship by also learning to play the organ.
In August 1968, when Lois was 18, she was introduced to a young man by the name of Tony Evans. The Cannings family was hosting members of a team from Sam Hart and the Grand Old Gospel Fellowship Ministry, who had come to Guyana to prepare for a crusade. Tony spent a lot of time with the Cannings family, and as a result, Tony and Lois had the opportunity to meet, develop a friendship, and discover their mutual commitment to serving the Lord in ministry. During the time Tony spent with the Cannings family, Tony had the opportunity to taste Lois’ cooking, and when he left to go back to America, he was absolutely certain that Lois was the woman he wanted to marry.
Tony promised Lois he would write her every day until he returned in January of the following year. She enjoyed reading his letters and treasured them for her entire lifetime, keeping them safe under lock and key.
When Tony returned to Guyana in 1969, he submitted a written request to Lois’ father for her hand in marriage. Later that year, Lois came to America to continue her education as it was customary for many young people from Guyana to continue their studies abroad. She took up residence in Philadelphia with Sam and Joyce Hart where she went to school and worked at a dry cleaner. Lois and Tony continued to develop their relationship and on June 27, 1970, they were wed.
Lois joined Tony in Atlanta, Georgia where he was attending Carver Bible College. In addition to supporting Tony while he worked to complete his bachelor’s degree, Lois worked for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as an administrative assistant. After two years of marriage, the couple gave birth to Chrystal, their first child.
When Tony finished his degree at Carver Bible College, he and Lois moved to Dallas so that Tony could attend Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). Lois became involved with the DTS Wives Fellowship where she continued to grow in her faith, studying the Bible and enjoying community.
Lois took seriously her role as a wife and mother and invested her time growing in her knowledge and skill of caring for her home and her family. Tony and Lois were also members of Community Bible Church where Lois continued to use her musical gifting by playing the piano and singing during services.
Two years into their seminary journey, Lois and Tony gave birth to their second child, Priscilla. Lois cared for two children while assisting Tony in his education by proofreading and typing his papers. As Tony continued his education, Lois also continued to invest in her own. She completed her associate degree at Eastfield College in 1976—the same year Tony received his first degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.
In the summer of 1976, with another leg of their educational journey behind them, Tony and Lois founded Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship by inviting ten people to meet in their home. Lois exercised her strong gift of hospitality by hosting everyone and, of course, providing great food. As the church grew, Lois grew as well by supporting the ministry in a variety of ways. Lois was the first church secretary, the first choir director, and the first children’s leader. Lois typed up the church bulletins and copied them manually on a mimeograph machine to prepare for services. She could also
be counted on to provide refreshments and welcome attendees as a gracious host.
As the church grew, so did the Evans family. In 1978, Lois and Tony gave birth to their third child, Anthony Jr. In addition to Lois caring for her growing family and her responsibilities at church, Lois continued to faithfully support Tony as he worked to complete his doctorate degree.
Just a few months before Tony completed his doctoral program, and only three months after the birth of their fourth child, Jonathan, Tony and Lois co-founded The Urban Alternative—a ministry created to spread the gospel through radio delivery of Tony’s messages. Lois utilized her managerial and administrative skills to build the ministry foundation and structure. For many years before anyone volunteered or was officially employed, Lois did much of the work herself. She handled correspondence, duplicated recordings and carried messages on tape to the post office—with kids in tow when needed.
Even with all that Lois was juggling as she served the Lord and her growing family, she didn’t forget to utilize her skills and steward her gifts. She worked part time for Dallas Federal Savings and Loan so she could contribute in the marketplace while maintaining flexibility as a mother. In 1983, Lois recorded her first album, and she went on to record a second in 1989. During this same period of time, Lois honed her involvement with both the church and the ministry as others came along to carry the load and handle specific responsibilities. Lois focused on leading the women’s ministry and caring for the leaders’ wives at church and became the Executive Vice President of The Urban Alternative in 1989. She also continued her education and received her bachelor’s degree from Dallas Baptist University in 1991.
As a senior pastor’s wife, Lois began to develop a passion for ministering to other pastors’ wives and founded the Pastors’ Wives Ministry. Since The Urban Alternative already hosted a conference designed for pastors, Lois spearheaded a track for pastors’ wives to encourage them to continue growing in their faith and in their calling in the local church.
That educational track later blossomed into the First Lady Conference. Over the years, the ministry has continued to grow by way of training, online community, in-person fellowships and virtual content delivery, encouraging thousands of women around the world.
Lois’ excellent work did not go unnoticed. She was honored in 1995 with the Good Samaritan Award from Dallas Baptist University for outstanding Christian service to the community. In 1996, she received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Eastern College, and in 2000, she received the Status of Women Award from Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. She also received The Woman of the Year in Ministry Award presented by the Women of Influence, Inc. Lois also served in numerous leadership positions including the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Board, the NRB Television Board, The Urban Alternative Board of Directors, and as the 1st President of the Global Pastors’ Wives Network. In addition, she was a member of Leadership Southwest, sponsored by the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce and served on the Board of the Christian Management Association.
With ministry, family, and general life experience accruing, Lois was approached by publishers to inquire about her interest in writing a book. Lois had already written many magazine and newsletter articles, but she cemented her gifting as a writer, becoming a contributing author to Promises Promises: Understanding and Encouraging Your Husband (Vision House, 1996) and a co-author of Our Love Is Here To Stay (Multnomah Publishing, 2004). Lois went on to author Seasons of a Woman’s Life (Moody, 2000—out of print), and Stones of Remembrance: A Rock-Hard Faith for Rock-Hard Places (Moody, 2006) with Jane Rubietta. Lois was a frequently requested speaker who often used her signature contralto voice to sing and solidify her message.
Lois worked hard to consistently pursue excellence in her home, family, work and ministry, but like the Proverbs 31 woman, none of her activities or responsibilities distracted her from prioritizing her family. Lois was married for nearly 50 years to her favorite pastor, teacher and best friend.
She frequently took selfies of the two of them, referring to them as “two peas in a pod.” She loved spending time with Tony and never was tired of dating him, working alongside him or serving him.
Lois and Tony had the privilege of traveling the world together and were able to see the Caribbean, China, India, Israel, South America, Europe and Africa. However, no matter how extensive their travels, they cherished and thoroughly enjoyed their annual trips to New York City.
A dedicated mother, Lois gave her best to her children. Every gift she cultivated in her life, she availed to her children. She was their first Sunday school teacher, sharing Bible stories on a flannel board. Lois gave them the gift of music as well. Before she sent them outside of their home for piano lessons, she first taught them to play simple songs at home. Lois would also sit at the piano herself and play while inviting her children to sing along. When she recorded her first album, Lois invited her children to come along to the studio and record. And as for cooking, she invited all of her children to lend a helping hand to prepare family meals. Lois taught each of her children how to be savvy in business and selfless in ministry.
She continued to mother her children well, even in their adult years. And even in her final days, Lois willingly offered wise counsel. As the Evans children share their gifts with the world by leading, singing, writing, teaching, and preaching, they are simply the fruit from the seeds that Lois diligently planted throughout their childhood.
Affectionately known to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as “Nonny,” Lois was intentional about making every family member feel special. She understood the importance of creating memories and sacrificed time and effort to make celebration a regular part of the Evans family DNA. Lois was everready to feed her family. Everyone relished her pancakes, and she was known to often make a batch late at night on occasion just because. Always the gracious hostess, if a family member or friend stopped by, she would welcome them into her home, offer refreshments, and invite them to stay a while to relax and rest.
Amid all of the work that Lois did in ministry and for her family, she made space for her own personal pursuits, interests and enjoyment. Lois loved to study God’s Word and audited college and seminary classes to learn even if she wouldn’t earn the credit. She loved history and traveled abroad to visit locations of biblical and historical interest. Lois loved to learn about health and nutrition, and she read books and took courses to know more. She loved flowers and often made sure that a beautiful bouquet was always around to add beauty to her home. And sunsets… Lois never tired of catching a beautiful display of fire in the sky as the sun dipped below the horizon at the end.
On Monday, December 30, 2019, Tony and the four Evans children surrounded Lois as she faced the sunset of her days on earth and entered her rest joining her precious Savior in eternity.
She has left an indelible impact to be remembered by her husband of nearly 50 years, Dr. Anthony T. Evans, Sr.; four children: Chrystal Hurst (Jessie), Priscilla Shirer (Jerry), Anthony Evans Jr., and Jonathan Evans (Kanika); thirteen grandchildren: Kariss Farris (Joshua), Jessica Hurst, Jackson Shirer, Jesse Hurst III, Jerry Shirer Jr., Kanaan Hurst, Jude Shirer, Joel Hurst, Kelsey Evans, Jonathan Evans II, Kamden Evans, Kylar Evans, and Jade Evans; two great-grandchildren: Lois Farris and Joshua Farris II; three brothers: John Cannings (Mable), Dr. Paul Cannings (Everette), and Joseph Cannings (Regina); three sisters: Ruth Ann Cannings, Bernice Cannings, and Dr. Pauline Elizabeth Cannings; one brother-in-law: Maurice Evans; ten nieces and nephews: Shannon Cannings, Steven Fischer (Rebecca), Clarise Cannings, Paul Cannings Jr. (Tanisha), Pierre Cannings (Monica), Faith Cannings, Michael Cannings (Keena-deceased), Danica Cannings, Sean Evans (Andrea), and Damien Ross (Ebony); and two cousins: Joy Bevaun Dowlin and Olive Sampson and a host of other family and friends.
Lois was preceded in death by her parents, James Basil and Annie Eleen Cannings; parents in-law: Arthur Sr. and Evelyn Evans; one brother, James Cannings; one brother-in-law, Dr. Arthur Evans Jr. (Annette); one sister-in-law, Beverly Johnson (James – deceased); one nephew, Gabriel Cannings; and one niece, Wynter Pitts (Jonathan).
Dr. Lois Evans’ legacy was using her gifts and talents to plant many seeds that would bear fruit in different seasons of her life. Whether it was building a worldwide ministry or a local church, mentoring pastors’ wives or mothers at home, baking in the kitchen or being in the boardroom, Lois Evans was a woman that God could use, and the ripple effects of her presence on this earth will be felt for generations to come.
Here's a look at several Evans family photos shown during Dr Lois Evans' homegoing celebration. pic.twitter.com/NU3OhzJMMV
— FAITHFULLY MAGAZINE (@faithfullymag) January 6, 2020