There have been several of our assemblies together at Legacy in the past year or so that have inspired me and moved me and humbled me. None so like what happened yesterday morning.
Stan Stafford first came to Legacy seeking food through the benevolence program here about four months ago. He’s 99 years old, confined to a wheelchair, and just as pleasant and sharp as anybody you’d ever meet. That very first day Kenny Smith invited Stan to worship with us the following Sunday. And, sure enough, Stan showed up. He parked his wheelchair with the big orange flag on it three-quarters of the way back, next to the sound booth. And to my knowledge, he’s not missed a Sunday yet. He’s starving for the Gospel. He’s thirsty for the knowledge of our God and his love and grace. Alvin Jennings and Kenny have been studying and praying with Stan. Over the past four months we’ve all befriended Stan. We’ve shared with Stan. We’ve listened to Stan. And we’ve come to love Stan.
And yesterday morning, during the third verse of the invitation song, that wheelchair came flying down the aisle toward me with Kenny and Alvin close behind. 16 days shy of his 100th birthday, Stan wanted to experience the new birth of a new resurrection life in God through Jesus Christ! Alvin shared a few stories about their time together over the past four months and then Stan confessed Jesus as the Son of God and the Lord of his life.
But how in the world were we going to do this?
In order to enter our baptistry at Legacy, you have to walk up four steps and then back down three into the water. And while Stan, when he has to, can go short distances by shuffling his feet, there’s no way he’s going up and down stairs. I hurriedly introduced a new family to the congregation and then hustled back to see if I could help. But I wasn’t needed. Jesse Villareal, whose physical size and strength is only surpassed by the size of his compassionate heart, was already suiting up in a set of waders that were way too small for him. He recognized from his seat what needed to be done and had jumped up to help. And when they were ready, Jesse lifted Stan and carried him up and down the steps and into the water. Jesse’s about a foot taller and a hundred pounds bigger than Alvin (that’s probably much more a statement about Alvin’s size than Jesse’s). And it was quite a sight — both of them baptizing Stan. And then Jesse carried Stan back up out of the water after we all shared in his new birth in Christ.
I don’t have the words to describe the beauty of the scene. I’ve been thinking about it and talking about it for almost 24 hours now. And I still don’t know how to write about it. If you were there, you know. If you weren’t, I’m sorry. I’m incapeable of describing it. The beauty of this tall, strong, young man and this wise older preacher lovingly carrying a 99-year old babe in the faith into and out of the waters of baptism with a cheering, weeping, admiring throng of 600-plus new brothers and sisters was overwhelming to me.
Our God is so wonderful. And his Church is so marvelous. And his people, indwelled by his Spirit, are amazing.
To all the people who still have Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” running through their heads, I’m posting a bunch of pictures from our weekend at Lake Texoma. Just click on each picture to get the full size. I don’t have any pics of Kevin Welch, the only man to ever wear cleats to a family campout. I didn’t get Tate’s tumble during the kickball game that resulted in a broken collarbone and separated shoulder, nor the wild out-of-control John Deere Mule that Shanna Byrnes drove onto the field during play that started the chain reaction that led to the broken bones. (I’m not accepting any responsibility for the accident. The only reason I missed the throw at first was because I was dodging Shanna!) I did get a pretty good shot of Jennifer Green running the bases while holding Parker, Larry Tolleson and his Jolly Roger, and all kinds of sweet, precious little kids.
HOW WONDERFUL! That story just makes me smile and gives me goosebumps all at the same time. God’s kingdom is open wide for all ages to enter and this story proves it, for sure!! And I thought that our little worship out at Texoma Youth Camp was sweet, I think the one at home with the “big group” wins!
I worship in Fresno and saw your piece about the lectureship from Jims post. First, I am saddened (but not too surprised) that the ACU panel would either agree or be silent about the issues that were brought before them on the teen subject. I am a graduate from that school, and wished I could have been also!
Second, I noticed in one of your blogs that you attended in Wichita Falls, so did I! I was there from 1999-2000.
Jason, we were at Edgemere from April ’99 to October ’99. Who do we know?
Well, probably not a lot of people because we went to the Loop 11 Church of Christ. We looked at a few churches and I think Edgemere was one of them. But we had a lot of good friends and were sad to move, but after having our first child turn out to be twins we REALLY had to move back to Cali to be closer to family! I would throw out names but I am horrible with names and would have look back at my files to look at old bulletins.