Shortly after we returned from Liberia in 2009, I received a call from a church my family served for nearly 10 years during my upper elementary through high school years. It was the last church my dad had served in full time ministry. They asked if I could come in February 2010 to be one of the main speakers for their mission month. I accepted the request quickly for 3 reasons. First, I had rarely been asked to be a guest speaker for adults. Second, the church was planning a year in advance so I had plenty of time to prepare. Finally, this was an amazing opportunity to stand behind the same pulpit my father had.
As the time grew closer for me to speak, I remember thinking about what this really meant for me personally. My dad was like a superhero to me. He always preached with great encouragement and energy. He was funny and engaging. He was very personable, and not too flashy. He was the same person off the stage as he was on. His messages were simple, yet challenging. My entire life I had watched my father preach from behind the pulpit. I had seen people come to Christ through the messages God had given him to share. When I was much younger and we didn’t have a kids’ church area, I would sit with a tiny notebook to take diligent notes. Each time I had nearly 3 pages in my little notebook. After church and lunch my sister and I would go home and reenact the entire service. She had a tiny little piano, so she plunked out the hymns. Then, she sat down at a little wooden pew my dad had made for her and I stood behind a matching pulpit that he had made for me. (These two items have been in every ministry office I have served as a reminder of the legacy.) When people asked me what I was going to be when I grew up, the answer was simple… I would be a preacher!
A year after the call, I stood behind that same pulpit. I was nervous and scared, but most importantly, I was humbled. Humbled to serve and share the truth of the Gospel to all who would listen. In the audience that day was my hero, Doug Lee. No matter what I said, he sat smiling from ear to ear. He had been given a glimpse into the fruit of his legacy.
Since that day I have had other opportunities to teach in an adult service. Nearly every time my dad has been present. Most recently, I traveled back to Indiana to share about the orphanage in Liberia. This time though I was close enough to other family that my dad made sure the church was filled with familiar faces. In the audience were my grandmother, aunt, cousins, both my parents, my sister and her kids, but most importantly… my two sons.