As we prepare to say our last goodbyes in this life to my dad, I have been overwhelmed by a flood of emotions and memories. The extent of his legacy is still unfolding and only the Lord can measure the impact that he had for the kingdom of God. I cannot speak directly about his influence on other people, but I can tell you that the example and inspiration that he has left for me is both challenging and daunting.
Many years ago, he stopped counting the number of countries that he had gone to for the cause of the Gospel, but we now that it was well over 100. Likewise, he stopped counting the number of times that he had traveled to Israel, but it was close to 150. He filled up passport books long before they expired and he accumulated innumerable frequent flyer miles. Although he preached and taught, he was primarily a communicator through the written word and photography. He was a builder of bridges across cultural and religious barriers. He had a special ability to focus on his ministry and mission even while sometimes working with difficult people.
He had a heart for people, but he especially loved his family. Although he traveled extensively, particularly as I was growing up, I always knew that he loved me and he told me many times how proud he was of me. That is not to say, however, that he did not administer well deserved discipline as needed. He especially loved my mom, giving my brothers and me a wonderful example of how we should love our wives. He loved his daughters and in my opinion, gave them preferential treatment. He had a wonderful, playful relationship with his grandchildren and they affectionately called him “Pops.”
In one way his life was a dichotomy. He was by nature a very competitive person and we have had many laughs over the years because he did not like to lose games or sports and many of his offspring inherited the same trait. In ministry however, he never sought the spotlight for himself. He worked diligently to support others in their ministry. He often worked behind the scenes preparing the way for others. Many people talk about “servant-leadership,” but my dad lived it every day. Even when he was appointed the President and Executive Director of the Assemblies of God International Fellowship, he offered to resign every year. He was confident in his gifts and calling and he was not dependent upon the praise or recognition of people.
In the past few days, as I have reflected upon his life I recalled the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:2:“Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.” I believe that those who were closest to dad, especially his family, are to be his letter to those we come in contact with near and far. He set the example of service and devotion, first of all to God and then to his family. It will be a legacy that lives on for many years to come.
I miss my dad and there will be times of tears as I recall the times we shared together, but I am assured that one day soon, we will be reunited with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in our eternal home. In the meanwhile, I want to strive with all that is within me to make my dad proud as I am always mindful of the words of Jesus in Luke 12:48, “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” I know that I have been given so very much and I will go forward with determination adorned with tears.