Friday, September 22, 2006

Remembering an Earth War Veteran

When the Good Lord calls me home, there are lots of folks I am looking forward to seeing, and lot of folks I am looking forward to seeing again. One of the groups I am looking forward to rubbing wings with the most is God's Veterans. I am looking forward to battlefield leadership discussions with Joshua and Gideon and Marse Robert. But there's also a group of warriors in heaven not necessarily known for armed combat--they are the spiritual battlefield leaders. That group, composed of lions of the Faith like Stephen and Paul and Timothy, just added another member to their Veterans of Earthly Wars club.

Edmund Stallworth was an amazing "old" man when I first met him 35 years ago. He pastored Coccoli Baptist Church in the Panama Canal Zone and was one of the most tireless Christian workers I have ever known. I don't remember any of the hundreds of his sermons for which I was present (probably because I was more focused on Miss Brenda), but I remember his actions away from the pulpit. He had a heart for Missions and traveled to out of the way villages in the mountains of Panama to preach the Gospel and bring hope and help to the poor. He involved our church's youth group in that effort, and visits to the humble shack that housed Chica Mission's services remain one of my most indelible memories.

I also remember Saturday workdays at the church (actually converted from an old Army hospital) led by the preacher and my future father-in-law. Lots of embarrassing stories from those days that still manage to find their way into family remembrances--one in particular involving my inability to stay seated on a toilet. Long story for another post. And, anytime we talk about Brother Stallworth, we always recall his leading us up a jungle trail to a mountain top on which a large cross had been placed. We marveled then, and now, at his stamina.

Brother Stallworth, though hobbled by a stroke suffered a few years ago, stayed active in service for his Lord to the very end. When my wife and her sister organized a reception to honor their parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary back in December, Brother Stallworth, pushing 90, made the trip over from Gulf Shores and made the day complete. He couldn't stay for the entire reception, because he had a class to teach back at his church that evening! Brother Stallworth passed on to Glory this week and I'm confident Jesus was smiling broadly to see him walk through the pearly gates.

Preacher, I would ask you to save me a seat in Heaven's den, but I don't think you will ever slow down long enough to go in there for a rest.
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