Faith doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It is sown, fertilized, and harvested in community. Every single one of us owe much of our faith development to faithful men and women who have walked alongside us at various points in our lives. Some of those people are well known and others are people you have never heard of. There are many unsung heroes who are doing the difficult work of discipling and we are going to make room in this issue to express our appreciation to the mentors (past and present) in our lives.
There are two reasons this is a vitally important theme. First, this issue is about expressing our appreciation and gratitude toward those who took time to mentor us and make an eternal difference in our lives. Second, it is important to hear how and why these people made such a difference. What did they do? What did they say? What was it about them that shaped our faith? Last, just as important, what can we do to imitate their example?
As we listen to the stories of those who have done it we are listening and learning how to more effectively develop those God has placed in our lives.
In closing I want to tell you about a man named Charlie Britnell. When we moved to North Alabama when I was 11 years old he took a real interest in my brother Andrew and I. He would take us with him to do VBS in small country churches around Colbert and Lauderdale counties. Charlie took us out to lunch and always had something to teach us.
He not only taught us scripture but he showed us how to do what he did. Honestly, I had no idea what he was doing until reflecting on it over the last few years. He was being a role-model for us…teaching us to live more like Jesus through his example. I will always remember Charlie’s example. When I think of him it encourages me to do for others what he did for me.
What did I learn from Charlie? Charlie reminds me that even at 11 years old, people aren’t too young to be mentored in meaningful and powerful ways. He planted seeds in my life that didn’t come to fruition for well over a decade but the impact he made on my life was profound. Charlie taught me that it doesn’t make you any less of a man to be real and show your emotions (something I have had to do a lot of recently). That man couldn’t make it through a sermon without crying…not because he was trying to pull on your heart strings but because thinking about Jesus genuinely pulled on his.
I love you Charlie Britnell and I love how you submitted yourself to the Lordship of Christ in order to be the kind of example to us that you always were…never a complaint, never a cross word, always positive and always Christ-like. I still have much to learn but I have examples to draw from. Praise God for providing people like Charlie.
As we open up this issue we are going to discuss those who have shaped our faith. As you think about those people in your life…who are they and what did they do that was meaningful to you?