My father left a wonderful legacy of ministering in his local church. He was active in serving and this part of his life bled over into the lives of his children. He not only encouraged us to be involved in serving, but he led the way for us.
Someone wrote, “A good example has twice the value of good advice”. It was the things that I saw in his life that stirred me to want to do the same as him. I can say the same thing of my Mom as she exhibited a servant’s heart at church, but I will limit my comments to my father as I will write about Mom in other posts.
Dad expected his children to serve the Lord. Anything that we could get involved in, we did so. We were in church Sunday morning, Sunday and Wednesday evenings and during the special meetings we had (revivals, Bible conferences, and training times). Melanie, Hoss, and I all sang in the youth choir, went to youth activities, camps and retreats. It wasn’t optional.
However, it wasn’t something we rebelled against either. The first time our church had hired a full-time Youth Pastor, I was in the middle of my Jr. year in high school. Up until that time the lay people of our church led the youth ministry. So, in my early years, even before I was a teenager, Mom and Dad hosted a lot of youth activities and events at church and our home. They always had a special heart for young people.
Also, my parents went to youth camps and retreats with us! They were chaperones and, of course, Dad drove the bus to get us there. I remember thinking how special it was to have all of our family at these great times. I’m so grateful they did this. I treasure those memories.
My father didn’t serve the Lord only when it was convenient, but also when it cost him to do so. In the early 70’s a new way to reach children for Christ was sweeping the country through the bus ministry. Each week a dedicated group of workers would visit and canvass areas on Saturday and then come and pick them up on a bus for church on Sunday and bring them home after the morning service. It was one of the most effective ministries our church ever had for seeing people saved.
Dad had just started in the bus business and it was very natural for our pastor to ask him to help begin the bus ministry at our church. So, Dad, the pastor, and a small group of men from the church went to a conference in Virginia to learn how to start and sustain a bus ministry. My father was on the ground floor of starting the bus ministry in our church.
He not only helped to begin it, but he was very active in it. He helped to maintain the buses and saw that they were filled with gasoline every Saturday (this involved eight to ten buses). Then, early on Sunday mornings he left before the rest of the family to drive one of the buses to pick up the children.
I remember during the warmer months that Dad took an extra shirt on a coat hanger to church with him. One day I asked him about it – “Dad, why do you take another shirt to church with you?” He said, “When I drive the bus it’s hot and I sweat so much that I have to change my shirt before I can go to church”. I think it was the first time I began to put together the many things he was doing to help reach precious children for Christ and that it wasn’t easy. (That’s not to speak of the winter months when the old bus was freezing cold).
After church we went home for lunch, but Dad wasn’t with us. He was driving his bus route and returning the kids back to their homes. We had finished lunch already when he finally arrived home around 1:30 p.m. – with his second shirt soaked with sweat.
A few years later I took a bus route at our church and had a similar weekend schedule to my Dad, except I wasn’t driving the bus, but helping to oversee the children. It was a lot of work, but well worth it. His commitment to serve the Lord influenced me.
As I write this I have been in ministry for over thirty-five years. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been fulfilling. My motivation for serving is the love of Christ for me. But one of my greatest examples of serving was my Dad. And for this, I am very thankful. May my children say the same thing of me one day and may they serve the Lord Jesus, too.