I have enjoyed reading the other “torch” posts and appreciate friend John Dobbs for starting this idea. I now offer my contribution.
Larry Roberts was the preacher for the South Main Church of Christ in Greenville, MS when I became a Christian. Larry was a dynamic individual who preached with enthusiasm and compassion. He was the first to ever recognize preaching potential in me and encouraged me to consider pursuing full-time ministry- pointing me to Magnolia Bible College. Even though I was not around Larry for a long period of time, his initial encouragement and support was vital to my life-choice of preaching. Larry later went into higher Christian education serving as President of both Northeastern Christian College and York College.
Bill Lambert was known by us preacher-boys at MBC as “brother grace.” His calm demeanor and gentle, but firm approach to ministry proved a wonderful example to me. Bill’s main legacy to me was his emphasis on “balance” in ministry. His warning against extremes is still a guiding force in my personal ministry. Bill spent many years training preachers with his grace-centered approach at both MBC and Harding University before retiring.
John Pigg was to me the quintessential local preacher. His zeal for evangelism and practical approach to ministry served as a great model for me in my formative preaching years. John also introduced me to Christian youth camps leading to years of involvement at Sardis Lake Christian Camp near Oxford, MS and now in the youth camp in Lithuania. John still is preaching locally at the Lake Harbor Drive Church of Christ in Madison, Mississippi and working just as diligently as ever to grow God’s kingdom.
Cecil May, Jr. is a name that has shown up on several “torch” posts- and for good reason. Cecil has dedicated his life to encourage, support and train preachers. I met Cecil when he became president of MBC in 1981. Cecil is a man of integrity and kindness. From Cecil I learned to just “be myself” while preaching. His approach to contextual study and preaching also helped me begin to appreciate this approach. Cecil remains active as ever in preaching, teaching and training preachers as Dean of the Bible department at Faulkner University.
Ronney Wheeler was a ball of energy directed at everyone who did not know the Lord. I got acquainted with Ronney while we were both students at MBC. He was not the typical student. He came from Phoenix, Arizona to Koscuisko, Mississippi with family in tow (all five kids) to better prepare himself for ministry. Ronney remains an influential force in my life even though he has now gone to be with our Lord. Ronney never knew the word “no.” All he saw were the possibilities of what God could do. I still hear his voice encouraging me when the obstacles seem too large.
Dr. Charles “Bud” Myer, Jr.- Bud and his wife, Eva, has taught me so much over the years. I met them when Bud retired as Dean of Northeastern Christian College and moved to Jackson, MS. He is the definition of the Christmas gentleman. He encouraged my interest in mission work and introduced me to Lithuania. Over the years he has been my mentor, surrogate father, counselor, friend and now elder. His calm and steady approach to the storms of life has been a wonderful example to me. Both he and Eva are among God’s wonderful gifts to me. Bud now serves as elder at Gateway.
Beyond these brothers- there are more- many of whom influenced me from a distance. I really could not possibly name them all. It has been and continues to be an iron-sharpening experience for me and I am thankful God for all the men who have influenced, taught and guided me through the years.
The voices of these men all still remain with me. I owe them all a great debt. Thank you for your life and ministry, brothers.