A Living Legacy

25 Aug


Legacy.  A piece of our lives that lives on beyond us.  For some, the legacy left will be very good.  For others, not so much.  How is yours developing?

Today I drove to the SC Baptist Convention Building in Columbia for a meeting of the Baptist Foundation of South Carolina, for which I am an ambassador (albeit, not a very good one).  It was a chance to meet a couple of new friends and fellow pastors, to reconnect with some old ones, and to jump back into my role of support for this very vital ministry in our state.  Later today, Diana and I have a meeting here in Columbia with a local attorney who is handling our estate documents (but that is another story for another day).  We were connected with him through the Baptist Foundation and their partnership with Philanthrocorp.  Another neat story.

But imagine my surprise when I realized the highlight of this meeting was the annual awarding of the Dr. Lonnie H. Shull, Jr, Legacy Award, given to a South Carolina Baptist who has exemplified generosity and service to our Lord and our state.  And I can think of NO ONE ELSE for whom this award should be named …

I first met Lonnie Shull soon after I surrendered to ministry, left my job in IT and moved to North Greenville College to finish my BA in preparation for seminary.  I was recommended to Fairview Baptist Church (in Greer) as a youth ministry intern, a job I accepted and fumbled through for 9 months.  Lonnie Shull was then the pastor of Fairview and a tremendous influence on my life.  There are so many stories I could tell … And I would probably goof the details.  When I was called to Fairview, a long-time youth pastor had just left and I was tasked with helping the staff hold the Youth Ministry together.  Honestly, if not for a really great team of adult youth workers and their minister of education, Tommy Comer, Fairview would’ve been in SO MUCH TROUBLE.  But God was at work and things worked out well …

Since I didn’t have a youth pastor with whom to work, Tommy and Lonnie took me under their wings.  They both taught me so much about ministry, about people, about serving on a church staff.  It was the kind of eduction you cannot buy, and it is priceless anyway …  Lonnie would take me to the hospital, on crisis calls.  I remember one time riding with him to the house of a member who had just died.  Seeing him in action was indeed priceless.

Lonnie stayed active in my academic plans and routed me down to New Orleans Seminary when NGU could only accept 22 of my 90 transferable hours from Greenville Tech.  (New Orleans took it all!!  So, in that, he helped me save 2 1/2 years of school time).

So, as you can see, I owe that man so much.  But that is NOT where his investment in my ministry ended.  Even though I only served Fairview for 9 months, Lonnie Shull made sure that I applied for their church vocation scholarship.  And, every semester, Fairview paid my tuition.  The folks at Fairview will never know the difference that made to me, to Diana, and to Krissy.  But the legacy didn’t stop there, either!!

Through the years, Lonnie kept up with me.  He encouraged me.  He would always tell me how proud he was of me.  He was a generous man … Yes, generous with money, but generous with so much more.  He continued to pour into me until he could do that no longer.  You see, several years ago, dementia began to take a toll on Lonnie.  The same kind of toll it took on my dad.  In a strange twist of fate, now dementia has taken not only my natural father, but is taking a man who was somewhat of a “father in ministry” to me.  Man, I HATE DEMENITIA.

Today, I got to see his lovely wife, Hazel.  Lonnie was not able to attend the meeting.  She is such a sweet lady and so strong.  My heart breaks for her.  But, I even tell you now like I told her that Lonnie’s legacy IS STILL ACTIVE AND ALIVE.

BECAUSE … I have made it one of my life’s goals to do what Lonnie did to the best of my ability.  I asked God for that a long time ago.  And He has provided.  He has provided men and women over the years who were growing in ministry and God has allowed me to pour in to them.  To stop and have a cup of coffee with them.  To give them chances to share in the pulpit.  To invest in them and their families just as Lonnie invested in me.  I cannot stop this terrible disease from doing what it does.  But I can carry the ball.  It is my turn.  I can live the legacy forward.

My friend Tom Capps (who was also at this meeting) said it best when he said “Lonnie Shull was one of the statesmen of the ministry in SC.  We just don’t have statesmen like him anymore.”  I will probably never live up to it, but I am going to do my best to make sure this legacy continues.

One Response to “A Living Legacy”

  1. Betty Mears August 25, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

    David ,Ted and I had some indirect contact with Lon and Hazel. She was in Nurses training at Baptist Hospital in Cola. when we were in college at USC . She attended FBC where I grew up. The housemother at the nursing school where Hazel lived was Nanny Eidson my mother’s closest friend. She used to talk to us about “her girls” and she dearly loved Hazel. When we heard that she and Lonnie had married we were so thrilled because he already had the reputation of being one of the states best. So glad to hear how they touched the lives of you two. (Barbara Bush as I am known)

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