I read Proverbs 17 this morning, and verse 27 says, "He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit." That verse reminds me of the kind of man dad was. To those of you who knew him, you knew he was a quiet man; but he had much wisdom.
Dad was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, the son of an unsaved carpenter. Grandpa was rough, but he was honest. (He got saved in 1977.) Grandma kept Dad in church (pastored by Bro. C.L. Cole), and at the age of 16, he was saved. I can still hear Dad telling his salvation testimony: "I was sitting on the back pew, and during the invitation, Bro. Cole walked back to me and put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'Tom, wouldn't you like to be saved?' I said, 'Yes, but I just can't believe it's as simple as you say it is.' Bro. Cole said, 'Well, it is.' When I got to my room that night, I knelt by my bed and asked God to save me."
Grandma once told me, "Your daddy never gave me any trouble growing up."
Dad graduated from High School and went to Oklahoma City to medical school. He began attending a Baptist Church pastored by Bro. W.N. Bond. Bro. Bond's testimony of Dad as a young man was that he was a clean, separated man.
Dad met my Popsy, Dr. L.H. Ashcraft while still in medical school, and began supporting the ministry in Monterrey, Mexico. When he went to visit the work, he met Mom; they were married in September, 1969.
Dad had finished medical school and had done his residency; he was on his way to becoming a rich Pediatrician. But God called him to missions and led him to Chiapas to work among the Indians. He walked away from what could have been a very lucrative job and never looked back.
His ministry was never well-known; he quietly plowed this hard ground. In his lifetime, his ministry apparently never grew. But because of Dad's consistency and faithfulness, there are now many good, solid works established among the Tzotzil Indians. And now the church that Dad started here in San Crisbóbal has grown and is thriving under the leadership of his son.
I was thinking about Dad...I remember having church in our livingroom, sometimes with only 10 members...Dad and Mom and their eight children. He'd lead singing and preach as if there were 100. He was faithful to take us soul-winning. We were his ministry. He concentrated on raising his children for the Lord, all the while living a life that was real.
Dad's 24-year struggle with Parkinson's Disease greatly hindered him (humanly speaking) in his mission work. But his illness brought honor and glory to his Lord. Dad never let that get in the way of doing what he could for the Lord. He once said, "As long as I can put one foot in front of the other, I'll keep on going." And literally, there were times he couldn't even do that. But he'd smile and say, "Hey, kids. Isn't it fun being a missionary?!"
There is much more I could say about this man. What a testimony he left behind! I certainly do miss him, and there are times I wish I could go back to his bedroom and see him sitting in his rocker. I'd like to just sit down with him and get his advice on different things.
But he's now with his Lord, whom he loved and served faithfully for so many years.
"And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
"...and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1
Dad and Mom in June, 2001