In the past and in different venues, I have written about the people who have helped shape my faith.
In that regard, I have been extraordinarily blessed.
College and grad school offered amazing opportunities to learn from folks who were intellectual giants. Even today, all these years later I remain humbled by the ability and knowledge of many of these people.
Some of them I knew simply from a classroom setting… or in the worst case, sitting in their office being redirected, chastised, or encouraged.
My grad school professors at Johnson University were some of the most caring and compassionate people I have ever known. In the middle of my distance learning program, Hurricane Katrina destroyed our way of life in Coastal Mississippi. In the blink of an eye, there was no time or room for school. The patience and concern those instructors and staff exhibited towards me during this difficult time was both refreshing and challenging.
My paternal grandmother, Lillie Ferguson, were she alive today, would claim all the credit for my becoming a preacher. She was a mighty woman of faith. I suspect in heaven, she is still reminding the Father of the influence she had on me.
And as I have written before, so much of my faith was molded and shaped by the lives and teaching of two special men. One of those men is my father, Les Ferguson, Sr. At the age of 72, he just retired from the pulpit to give himself more time for his beloved mission work in Mexico.
Dad was an amazing preacher and father. I am blessed to have had him in my life. I always knew he was a rock and fortress of strength. In the aftermath of the murders that changed our lives forever, he was bent and bowed. But through it all, he still evidenced a strength of character and faith that we needed so desperately. And still do.
I know he was rocked by the same questions he heard me speak over and over again. In return, his comfort was never cliched or made to be anything other than the quiet strength and dignity of his faith.
I owe him much.
By virtue of Dad being Dad, I was also introduced at an early age to the May family. Several of the May siblings have remained friends for the vast majority of my life. Their father, Cecil May, Jr., had an incredible academic and spiritual impact—even my manner of preaching was for years this weird little combined imitation of my Dad and Cecil.
I am blessed.
But spiritually speaking, my greatest influence was a young man who could not read or write. He couldn’t with any consistency differentiate between a quarter and a nickel and his speech was very hard to follow. His capacity for big topics would not be given much consideration in any kind of an academic world.
Although he was given a certificate, he never graduated High School in the traditional sense. His school days were spent in special education classes and trying to learn rudimentary life skills. Based on quarters and nickels, he didn’t do that very well.
But spiritually speaking? His theology of love was as Christ-like as any could be. When faced with a father who was not nearly as patient and kind as he should have been, he was all love and compassion. When dealing with those at school who were hurtful and mean, he shrugged it off and said in his broken way of speaking, they don’t understand.
And they didn’t. In fact, not many of us realized as quickly as we should that being in his presence was pretty close to being on holy ground.
I have no way of proving it—no way of testing my hypothesis, but I believe this young man was in daily communication with the God who loved him. I believe it was a two way communication. I believe he was here to show people the nature and character of God.
And he was my son.
Trevor Cole Ferguson.
Evil took him from us far too quickly, but while he was here, he taught me more about God than I could have ever learned from a book or class. His trust of God was astounding. My faith has been irrevocably shaped by him.
Trevor Cole Ferguson.
My son, my son.
Les Ferguson, Jr.