Monday I read more than a few blogs concerning preachers whose influence is ongoing:
Chris writes about Dowel Flatt.
While Brian writes about Mike Tanaro.
Paul writes about her Dad.
Lisa writes about her Dad too.
And John writes about Richard Travis and others.
Today, I join the effort in Passing the Torch.
There are a lot of preachers in my life. Many of them from my childhood and the congregations we attended. Some of those who impacted my life were: John Bird, Jim Wisdom, and Ron Missildine. These three were preachers where I attended. Brother John Bird was the preacher when I obeyed the gospel at Leonard Street in Pensacola, FL. He was one of the most kind hearted and tender men I had the privilege of knowing. From him I learned the importance of prayer and saw in him a man who often knelt before the throne of God. Jim Wisdom is the man who "tricked" me into preaching my first sermon and (other than my mom) most influenced my love for singing. He was the first preacher I knew as a friend and not just "the Preacher." If Jim had not been a part of our congregation when I was a pre-teen and young teen, I do not know if I would be a preacher. Ron Missildine preached across town. I attended where he preached while a teenager since that congregation (Warrington Church of Christ) had an earlier service I could attend allowing me to worship and then go to work at a restaurant on Sunday afternoon. Ron was much like Jim Wisdom in that he was a friend, and like John Bird he was a man who you knew had a relationship with God. Ron's lessons were Biblical, practical, and easy to understand. I hope in some way I am like the three of them.
Again, there have been a lot of preachers, but the one that stands out most, was a "retired" preacher who taught Bible Class when I was a teenager - Dale McCaleb. I only heard him preach on a few occasions. Most of his influence was in class and in fellowship before and after worship. Bro. McCaleb grew up not far from where I now live. He is part of the "Greatest Generation" who had a hard life and worked to make ends meet. He worked with Navy and preached where ever he lived. His life finally brought him to NAS Pensacola, where he decided to stay. Dale and Ruby began worshiping with the Leonard Street Church of Christ when I was about 14 years old. Soon Dale was teaching the teens, talking about a life of preaching, and going to school at Montgomery Bible School and meeting the love of life (Ruby). His knowledge of scripture, his relationship with the Savior, his love for God, his example of a life spent in service inspired me. When he spoke of his education, of his wife, of his God and Savior, I could hang on every word. He was my grandfather's friend, but he was and is in many ways my hero. Bro McCaleb's health is not what it used to be, the years are catching up to him, (he is about 90 years old). This past year, I had the honor to preach a series of sermons at the congregation were I grew up and where he still attends. He was there, sitting in the third row, smiling, nodding approval, and saying, "Amen." After 20 or more years of preaching, having his approval meant so much to me. Brother Dale McCaleb -- "Thank you." I pray I can be a similar influence as I strive to follow Christ.