Mind of the Missionary
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints.” (Psalm 116.15)
Last week was one of those tough weeks of ministry. They don’t happen often, but they do come when you least expect it. Four men that I knew passed from this life into eternity. A couple of them were unexpected which made the news harder to handle.
Mr. George Kyles of New Salem Baptist Church was a faithful Christian husband, father, patriarch, and friend to everyone. He led worship at New Salem for over 25 years and others churches for a few more years in addition to his singing with “The Singing Men of Pickens County”. Each time I was around him, he made me feel part of the Pickens County family. I will be miss his smile and special greeting.
The next loss was my wife’s, Uncle Sonny, or Davis Henson. He was an engineer that helped build almost all the paved roads and bridges in Washington County, Alabama. He was a quiet man who could hide his humor to the point that you didn’t know if he was serious or joking. Of course, Uncle Sonny would not let you know which one it was. He, too, was a faithful follower of Jesus who loved his wife, family, friends, and local church-Chatom Baptist Church.
The third loss was Lamar Duke, the church planter strategist for the Alabama State Convention. I met Lamar during our time in the Pennsylvania/South Jersey convention in the 1980s while serving as a church planter. He was planting near Atlantic City, NJ, and we were in Central PA. Both of us being from Alabama hit it off immediately. When Claren and I returned from international missions, I found out that Lamar was the Alabama church planter strategist. I contacted him, and he began to put me to work training other church planters. He always had a heart for evangelism and church planting. Lamar continued to share his faith and lead others to Christ even while in the hospital.
Finally, Dr. Gary Farley, our former Associational Missionary, passed away on Valentine’s Day. Honestly, it was a shock because I understood he might be going home by the end of February. His influence within Pickens Baptist Association and the state of Alabama is unprecedented. Dr. Farley wrote numerous articles and books on the importance of rural and small town churches and associations. He was re-energized with the coming of FCI-Aliceville to Pickens County. He poured out his life leading the PBA to become involved with these ladies through the “Rubies for Life” and “Kairos” ministries and the Samford Ministerial Training Institute classes. Of course, I can’t forget Dr. Farley’s red socks and harmonica. I’ve been asked several times if I wear red socks or play the harmonica. Unfortunately, I don’t, but I may for a day just to honor him.
Like I said earlier, last week was a tough week with four friends dying. The hope that I take with me is that each of these men are precious in the sight of the Lord today.
Until next month,