Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Faithful Man

1996 was a critical juncture for me.  I found myself torn between my pursuit of a career in Physical Therapy and a growing passion for investing in Jr. High and High School students.  Until that point, I thought my life would be include both.  I had many great people who invested in me during my teenage years who loved students and also worked in the real world.  They probably didn't realize how closely I was watching and taking notes for who I wanted to be.  They set a great example, and I was following that example post- high school.  

After working that plan for 18 months or so, I found myself with a greater role in the student ministry at my home church after our Youth Pastor left. As time went on I felt like this was becoming something more than a way to spend my free time.  I was pretty sure it was turning into a calling.  As soon as I allowed that possibility to become my reality, everything changed. 

I moved from the church I spent the last 8 years at to a new church plant where my dad had been playing the piano.  It was a place where I was welcomed and invited to be a part of both working with students and helping out with music. At the same time I was moving to be a part of this church, a new Worship Pastor had come.  I didn't know then that this man would be my father-in-law within two years.  What I did know was that this man had been a Youth & Music Pastor for 21 years at the same church, and he had now followed God's call to build the Kingdom in a new place.  He immediately welcomed me, a mediocre guitar player into his band.  He also invited me to choir practice, and the first time I went mutual friends set Holly and I up for what became our first date. 

The next several months were defining in my life.  Not only did Holly and I begin our relationship, but I was transitioning from something I had been planning to do for years into something unknown.  After volunteering with the students at the new church and working with some great Youth Pastors, I felt like this was something I wanted to give my life to.  I remember applying for a summer intern job for for a church in the Woodlands, and they asked my questions about my philosophy of ministry.  I asked Rick what my philosophy of ministry is.  His said "2 Timothy 2:2." I had no idea what that verse said, so I looked it up...

and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2, ESV)

I didn't have any better ideas, so I put it down.  

This week, one of those faithful men that my father-in-law poured himself into was tragically killed at 41 years old.  From the first time I started hanging out with Holly's family, I would always hear them talk about BJ.  He was part of the family.  As I've read testimonies of those who were close to BJ, I see the fruit of 2 Timothy 2:2 at work. 

My father-in-law Rick is one of a kind.  He has a gift for taking the mediocre things of this world (like me) and making them feel meaningful. I've never met a more patient person.  I've never met another person willing to risk more to make one person feel accepted.  I'm a closet perfectionist, and I would always struggle with how Rick would pull together musicals, worship services, or projects.  I would always feel like they weren't ready, but he'd go for it anyway.  It never bothered him, because for him it's always more about the people than the product.  And, to my great surprise, every single time, the product was good...really good. 

I didn't know BJ well, so I can't speak with any authority about him, but I do know that because Rick made room for him, he came to be a faithful follower of Jesus.  Not only that, he became a minister of the Gospel who continued to pour himself into others who needed someone to make room for them.  I saw the words his son spoke about the power of forgiveness, and all I can think about is 2 Tim 2:2.  

I grieve the loss of such a close friend and minister of so many of our friends and family.  However, I can't stop thinking about what it would've been like if the Crestmont folks hadn't made room for BJ.  What if Rick and many others hadn't invested Gospel into BJ?  The memorial service today would have a completely different feel.  By the grace of God and faithfulness of His people, today's celebration will be focused on the fact that BJ is with His heavenly father.

I am praying for BJ's family, and for my family and friends in this.  I am also reminded that this Gospel of the Kingdom saves souls, changes lives and reproduces faithful men.  I'm grateful that somewhere along the way faithful men poured into Rick and Rick poured (and is still pouring) into the next generation and that generation is pouring into the next. May we all be reminded of our opportunity to make room, love, teach, and entrust.  Faithful men (and women) will be the result.  

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