International Youth for Christ
The Way of the Cross Church of Christ, Intl.
"Education + Salvation = Success 4 Eternity"
Honoring the Founder of the National Youth for Christ
Mother Isabell Lucille Brooks Ford
On October 12, 1920, Isabell Lucille Brooks was born in Franklinton, North Carolina, the first child of the late Henry Chauncey and Willie Shaw Brooks. About a year later, the family moved to the District of Columbia where the family grew to a total of four boys and eight girls. Isabell received her education in the public school of the District of Columbia, graduating from Cardoza High School. She studied voice and music at the Howard University School of Fine Arts and Music. Circumstances dictated that she forego her desire for an education in music, so she decided to become a hairdresser, and studied at the Apex School of Cosmetology.
When she was eight years of age, Isabell’s parents along with four others started The Way of the Cross Church of Christ. After being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and receiving the precious gift of the Holy Ghost, she began what became many years of service
in the House of the Lord. Her mother arranged for her to have piano lessons, and she began to play and sing for services. The church grew rapidly, and when there were enough children, a Sunshine Band was formed with Isabell as pianist. Every Sunday, for a while, the group sang the only songs she knew how to play – “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam.”
As a teenager she became the first director and pianist for the Junior Choir, a group that soon became a mainstay in worship services. Later she organized a choir for toddlers (the Cherubims), the 10-14 Choir, and the Youth Choir. During the early 1950’s, she organized the Christian Lites, a singing ensemble that performed in the Washington metropolitan area; and when the Senior Choir lost its director, she took on the responsibility. She eventually gave directing choirs to others, but continued to be a member of the choir. Upon inception of the Pastor’s Choir, she directed this choir until a director could be found; and in the early 1980’s, organized the Consoling Choir to furnish music for funerals.
In October 1945, at the age of 25, she was wed to Richard J. Ford, Jr. They had four children – Deborah, Richard III, Bernadette, and Reginald, and later became the foster parents of four more. During World War II, Isabell worked at the Treasury Department, but upon completion of her studies in Cosmetology, worked in several noted Washington area beauty salons. She stopped work to raise her children but returned years later as a volunteer for the D.C. Board of Elections. She eventually became a permanent employee and worked until she retired in 1989.
When the Junior Ushers were organized, Isabell was one of the first members. She also worked in the Church Nursery and taught Sunday School. Early in the 1950’s Sis. Ford became overseer of the Young People’s Union. In February 1954, Sis. Isabell reorganized the youth department and renamed it the Youth for Christ. Later that year, she requested and received permission to make the Youth for Christ a national auxiliary. After serving as founder and first president for many years, Isabell retired from active service and became the National Advisor to the National Youth for Christ.
Sis. Isabell was affiliated with For the Love of Children, the Toastmaster’s Club, and the Business and Professional Women’s Club. For a time, she was Director of Music at the Florida Avenue Baptist Church. She was a PTA member at the various schools attended
by her children and foster children.
The 1950’s also found Sis. Isabell providing help to clean the church, for she organized the Busy Bees. To teach young women church etiquette and social graces, she became overseer of the Single Girls Club, later named the “Pollyannas.” Seeing the need for a forum in which to address women’s issues, she organized the Women’s Council and was elected the first president. She was re-elected continuously until her death. She was a missionary for 37 years, having travelled internationally to Canada, Ghana, and Liberia. Sis. Isabell was a member of the Floral Club, the Pastor’s Aid Club, the Willing Worker’s Club, the New Members’ Committee,
the Drug and Alcohol Outreach Ministry, and co-chairman of the Building Fund.
Sis. Isabell served as a Washington representative to the Convention Planning Committee, chairing the committee for two years. She was co-chair of the subcommittee to prepare the magazine to commemorate the 50th Convocation Anniversary. A Honoring the Founder of the NYFC Mother Isabell Lucille Brooks Ford Sunday school scholar all her life, she was a faithful member of the First Bible Class. After her 70th birthday, in October 1990, her brother and pastor, Bishop Alphonzo D. Brooks, appointed her Mother of the church, for among those who were there at its inception, only she remained alive. The national organization subsequently honored her in like manner.
On Sunday, May 29, 1994, Mother Isabell slipped away to be at rest. Known for her zest for living, Mother Isabell loved the arts and traveled to many places. She was a dedicated wife and mother. She loved her family, but most of all, she loved the Lord! Oftentimes you could hear her proclaim the motto of the National Youth for Christ: “Put Christ first and foremost in your life.” She was an “idea” person, continually thinking of ways to do things and to help others as well as direct the talents of others.