What is EDGE-X?

Evangelize the Lost, Disciple the Found, Give back to the Community, Edify the Church, all to eXalt the Savior.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Hey everyone!

Two years ago, on this day (it was Sunday, March 8), I was heading back home for Spring Break when I got a phone call from my roommate. He asked what the name of the church I went to as a child. After telling him "First Baptist of Maryville, Illinois," he told me that the pastor had been shot at the pulpit that morning. I didn't believe it, but I thanked him and hung up. I thought it was some mixed up story; that someone got it wrong. As tears welled up in my eyes, I called my mother to confirm it. When my mother answered the phone in a shaky voice, I knew she didn't have to say anything. I asked anyway, hoping that I was wrong. She confirmed the story and said that her sisters had called her to let her know. My dad was also watching the news and confirmed everything.

As I hung up the phone, I lost it. I broke down. I had only cried this hard a few times in my life. I almost pulled over on the side of the road, but my only thought was to get home. Looking back on the situation, I should have pulled over, because I was in no condition to drive. Thank God that I made it home in one piece. I cried for the next half hour in the car as I remembered everything about Fred: his smile, his laugh, his charm, his joy, his overly happy personality, his passion, his go-getter attitude, his sermons, his prayers, his jokes--everything. When I finally composed myself, I called one of my ministry leaders at my campus ministry (because I was supposed to go on a mission trip with them) to tell them I couldn't go on the trip. For the next few hours on the drive back, I just sat in silence, letting my memories overtake my mind.

The first few days of break, I didn't really talk to anyone; I just sat in my room and played video games for hours (something I rarely do at all). The whole time I kept in prayer, and thought of all the great things that Fred had done.

Fred was my first example of what a godly man should be. When I was seven years old, he led me to Christ and baptized me. I can still remember the day....

"Adam, have you accepted Jesus Christ into your heart as your personal Savior and Lord?"
"Then I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Buried with Christ in Baptism; raised again to walk with the Lord."

He was my beacon, my icon. Fred was my man to look to when I was confused, didn't know what to do, or was lost and needed help. Fred was always there for me. He always took time out of his day to pray for me, help me out, answer my questions. The man was a saint. He was a true warrior for God.

When I moved to Waynesville and was called to the ministry, I had the opportunity to deliver my first sermon. We called Fred to let Him know, and although we hadn't spoken to him in years, he still remembered everything about us. He prayed for me over the phone and wished me well. He even remembered my dad (who was not saved when we left Maryville) and said he had been praying for my dad's salvation for some time now. He rejoiced with us when we told him my dad had come to Christ.

Years later I went back to Maryville to visit FBC and see how things were doing. The next year, I was going up to Truman and I wanted to say good bye before I left. I went to talk with Fred, and he still remembered everything about my family and me. He started naming some of my extended family as well (some of whom even I don't know very well). Fred then offered me a summer internship job at the church. I was blown away. Afterwards, we prayed, and I went on my way. That was the last conversation I had with him. I did, however, continued listening to his podcasts online and his sermon series.

I have experienced death before. Both of my mother's parents and her only surviving grandmother have passed on in my lifetime. When I heard the news about Fred, it was different. I felt like part of me was gone; like a section of me was ripped out. I lost part of myself when my grandparents passed, but this was different. This part went down into my spirit. Fred was my spiritual guide. It was tough to have him suddenly taken from me.

Another reason it was different was because of the methods of their departure. My grandfather had been battling cancer for years before it finally took him. My grandmother suffered with Alzheimer's Disease for five years before she too departed. For both of my grandparents, I had advance warning of their departure. I had prepared myself for it. So when the moment came, it came as more of a relief than intense sadness. I knew where both of my grandparents were going, so when they passed on, I felt relieved knowing that they were no longer in pain; no longer suffering from the illnesses that tormented them.

Fred's death was different: he was murdered. Fred's life was brutally cut short by one man's inconsiderate act. Fred was a loving husband, an excellent father, a powerful leader, a courageous pastor, a good friend, a helpful colleague, a true servant, and a minister to everyone. He was taken from his wife Cindy, two daughters Alysa and Cassidy, his mother, grandfather, five brothers, one sister, and his entire congregation. To me, it felt like Fred still had work to do. He was still pressing on, fighting the good fight, running the race, and for the kingdom, until his life was brutally cut short.

Every fiber of my being wanted to get revenge. Every part of me wanted the man to come to justice. But I can't keep thinking that way. As I start to think that way, the power of God just overwhelms me, and after I feel His love so strongly I just can't stay angry anymore. I forgive the man. I have moved on. Now, I don't really care what happens to him. All I am concerned about is what we do from here. To this day, I still don't know what happened to him.

I think Alysa and Cassidy described what happened to Fred the best right after he died: (this is paraphrased) "Our daddy is our hero and we hope to be like him one day. We know that today is not Daddy's death day, but his celebration day. We pray that everyone will be comforted and that the man who killed Daddy would come to know Christ as Daddy does." What faith and power coming from little children whose father was
murdered just a few days before! When Cindy told us what they said at the funeral, I cried all over again.

The whole funeral service was so beautiful. There was singing and worshiping, a message, and memories shared all around. At one point, everyone sang "Shout to the Lord" at the top of their lungs, and it was the most moving song I have ever heard. Pastors from other church's came up and shared the Gospel of Christ, exactly what Fred would have wanted them to do.

As I left the funeral two years ago, I experienced some closure. I really came to grips with the fact that he is not coming back. Somehow, the information that he wasn't coming back didn't disturb me. On the contrary, I felt empowered. It is now my turn to step up, my turn to go back to Kirksville and be the shining light that Fred was to Maryville. I am determined now to pick up the slack and follow God and take up the example Fred has laid out for us.

CBS contacted Cindy after they heard about Fred's death and asked for an interview. They did an interview at the church by satellite and you can tell by watching the clip how the lady doing the interview just doesn't understand forgiveness and grace. This interview shows how much of a godly woman Cindy actually is. I have more respect for this woman than any other woman on the planet.

Fred was my first role model and showed me how godly Christian men should be. I didn't know how much I looked up to him until after he moved on. For me, his passing didn't discourage me. Well, it did at first, I'm not going to lie. It felt like one of our major Generals in the Lord's Army had fallen in battle, and one of that great standing could never be replaced. Then it hit me: no, he will never be replaced, but others will step up in his place and grow to become great leaders. He had to step down in order to let the others step up and blossom.

Fred's departure challenged me. It showed me what I am to do. I am prone to discouragement, but Satan will NOT bring me down! I am ready to take up Fred's mantle and serve my God in the field He has placed me with the same passion and fire as the great man who stood before me. I may have lost a great leader, but Fred's life is still living on in us. It is up to us now to see his vision through. I for one will not sit down and keep silent any longer. Fred has taught me to step up and step out: it's time to get our ministry rolling! Thank you Fred, and enjoy your just reward!

Following His Call,
(2 Timothy 4:7)

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