He signed my Bible with Philippians 1:12:
But I would you should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
As a little girl I wondered at that verse. Surely there was a more poetic one? Or at least one that could bring you comfort? But no, his life verse was this? Through the years as I got saved, and he signed multiple Bibles as I got new ones, this verse remained the same. And it began to make more sense. He cared about the furtherance of the gospel. It was his mission in life.
Bro. A.C. Durham was my pastor since I was a baby in the womb. And for 21 precious years, He taught me from God’s word. Convicting me, encouraging me, guiding me through life’s decisions and most importantly, being one of the best examples of faithfulness this world has ever seen. I know his prayers went up for me and my family.
“Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.” Many times he sat in the altar, praying for me. Trying to help me through my doubts.
I’d ask him about songs and if the words were scriptural. He’d take the time to listen and advise me. I remember asking him about the last verse of “My Jesus I Love Thee”, where it says we’ll sing while wearing a glittering crown. He said, “Well Faith, I just don’t know, but I think if we get any crowns, we’re gonna be laying them all at His feet.”
My mama, sister, and I would sing during church. We’d get done and Bro. AC, with his eyes closed, would say “Sing that one where He’s still in the boat.” It was one of his favorites. “In Control”. “… But Christ the Lord, He’s still on board, for He lives inside me. He has the answers and everything is in control…” You’d hear him in a broken voice, saying “Oh yes!” as we were singing. I can still hear him now. I loved him so much. And, I wanted to please the Lord, truly, but hearing him praise the Lord while we were singing as a young person, made me happy. I wanted to make him proud.
I have a message he preached written in my Bible from 2006. And I was able to hear him preach it again not long ago.
“How to have a Powerful Life”
The problem is with the servant
The power is with the Savior
My favorite story he ever told, and he’d tell it all the time, was of his first house with Mrs. Betty. It was small and so he made the little bathroom his prayer closet. He’d get teary eyed and emotional as he’d tell us how God met with him there. How he felt that sweet Spirit. And when they sold that house, he had to just go meet God in that little bathroom one more time.
He pastored our church for over 40 years. How many sermons can you preach to the same people for that long? But he did. Many times a holy hush would settle over that small building. And we’d be afraid to leave, afraid to even move. Sometimes there were shouts of amen, and sometimes there were silent tears. But God was there.
He was steady. He held to his convictions; his standards consistent, unwavering. He preached with anointing. With power. He wasn’t just a great man, he was surrendered to a great God.
The Sunday after this dear saint passed away my husband looked at me and said, “What I wouldn’t give to just go back one Sunday to that old Pleasant Grove building. Hear Bro. A.C. preach one more time. To be in service with the Kellys, the Ryans, the Pattons… So many others who have gone on before us.” Oh….me too!
What will we do when they are ALL gone?
My heart is left with a void. But that void goes much deeper than just the loss of a pastor, a hero, a friend. There is a void left that no one is filling. And beyond that, I don’t even think most of us care about filling it.
How have we gotten so far away from the examples that were set before us?
We have too much. And we’ve taken too much for granted. We have too many other things vying for our time and our talents. We are selfish. We don’t want to sacrifice our sleep, our money, our time to get on our knees and spend it with or for a holy God. We no longer care about furthering the gospel.
Why doesn’t God mean more to us than He does?
I’m scared for my children. To grow up in a world with no Bro. A.C. Durhams. But I’m more ashamed and scared for myself. It’s my fault. If we think it is someone else’s responsibility to carry on the torch, then we are wrong. Where are the young people who have given all for Christ? Well, they’ve seen their parents only give a little.
Will people mourn the loss of a great servant of Christ when we are gone? Will they wonder who will take our place or will we even have a place?
This Man of God touched so many lives. Lives that entered Heaven’s Gates before him, and lives that are still here. Lives that can still be used of God. The greatest thing, I believe, that could come from Bro. A.C. going home is that it wakes us up. It convicts our hearts. It gives us the strength to keep carrying on. It drives us to our knees to ask God for help. Help to stand strong. Help to fight hard. Help to keep the faith and finish this race that has been ran so faithfully by those before us.
Another soldier of the cross has made it home, but who will keep the faith, when they’re all gone?
I was curious, if some 25 years later, his life verse still remained the same. I told one of my boys to go get their Bible that Bro. A.C. had signed. To my surprise, it was different. But the impact of what it changed to, makes me want to give my last breath for the cause of Christ. And to know in the end I did everything I could for my Savior.
He signed it with Philippians 2:16:
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.
The handwriting is a little more feeble, a little harder to read. But the testimony of who this man was still reads loud and clear.
Bro. A.C. is rejoicing this very moment, knowing it wasn’t in vain.
I had a song in my heart to write with those words: Another soldier of the cross has made it home. But who will keep the faith when they’re all gone?
It may come later, but for now if Bro. A.C. could be heard from Heaven, if it would even be possible to get him to take a break from worshipping at the feet of Jesus, I think he’d be shouting down to all of us:
“Stand tall, church!
Give it all you’ve got, church!!
It’s worth it all, to heed the call, and stand tall!!”
Our family loves you Bro. A.C. There aren’t enough words to tell of the impact you have made on us. I pray that we continue in the faith and further the gospel as you have. That maybe one day, OUR impact for Christ might resound through eternity. Because of the ones gone on before us…. Thank you.
Words & Music ©Faith York 2018
(James suggested that we try re-recording this today. I told him it’d be even more emotional if we tried. So no, it’s not perfect. But it’s heartfelt.)