News from the Tennessee Valley Religion

Rev. Charles Owens

Buried into death but called to eternal life

The two greatest losses so far in my life have been the loss of my oldest brother to cancer in 1988, and the loss of my father, whose great heart stopped beating when he was 86 years old.

The Christian faith has always been strong in my family. I am a third generation Baptist preacher. As a pastor for 29 years, I have been at the bedside of many dying saints. Having bid so many “farewell” from this life, and having watched and listened as they stepped from this life to the next, I have seen and heard too much for me to doubt that there’s “life after life.” The greatest witness to eternal life is the Word of God.

My brother was taken in the prime of his life, at age 48. He was a deacon in the church where I was pastor. I watched his faith grow stronger as his body grew weaker. I recall him saying in his last week, “It’s time for me to go and see the man who saved me from my sins.”

His passing was one of the greatest Christian testimonies I have ever witnessed. As our family stood around his bed on that final evening, there was a sense stronger than our grief that we would see him again.

As he neared the time of his death, my father called me to his side one day and told me he wanted me to preach the message for his funeral. I painfully watched as he grew old and weak. In his last months he was bedfast but had the strength to continue to give of his wisdom and spiritual depth. His funeral was attended by several hundred people whose lives he had touched.

On his business card my father had the plan of salvation written on the back side, and at the bottom were these words:

“Let it not be said that no one cared for your soul.”

More than one of those attending had come to faith in Christ through the witness of my father.

My sermon was entitled “The Call of God.”

The outline was simple: God calls us into life. God calls us into death. God calls us into eternal life.

Daddy died several years after my brother. By the time of his death there were many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

It was a larger family that stood over my father’s grave just a hundred yards or so from my brother’s grave.

But the passage of time had not changed our perspective. We knew we would see him again.

Let’s celebrate the risen Christ on Easter.

“As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

The Rev. Charles Owens, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, is one of several local ministers writing religion columns in The Daily. For more information, call Melanie Smith at 340-2468.

Rev. Charles Owens Rev. Charles Owens

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