my true son in the faith

Read 1 Timothy 1:1-2.

“To Timothy my true son in the faith …” 

I was green-as-grass to ministry; it was my first year as a preacher. Hardly twenty-one years of age, I was overwhelmed with life – going to college, attending a preaching school, dating the girl who would soon become my wife and, “in my spare time,” working at my father’s service station. Whew! Sundays were spent driving 70+ miles one way to a little berg in rural Oklahoma (population: 300), teaching class and preaching the sermons that morning and evening. Late Sunday afternoons was the only time in the week that I could count on to have about an hour, maybe two, to myself. Not a few Sundays I spent an hour sacked out sound asleep from exhaustion on a pew in that little country church building. Looking back, it was some of the best of times in my life.

He was a a little guy; he was half my age. His Mom was a Christian and his Dad wasn’t; Mom came to church often, but Dad was busy running a service station. He was the youngest in the family; he had three older sisters. We had few kids his age in our church of about sixty members, and most of them were girls, meaning he was nearly alone. It didn’t help matters much that he was a pretty shy and really quiet, but he was sharp for his age and if you challenged him with something to learn or do, he’d get ‘er done. And his faithfulness, why, how many boys his age do you know would go to church by themselves? Granted, he only lived a couple of blocks from the church building, but still, if he could get there and the doors were open, he was there. Naturally, I nicknamed “Ol’ Faithful.”

We formed a close friendship; I was the big brother he never had; he was the little brother I never had. We got to where we’d spend lots of late Sunday afternoons together, just talking with lots of Bible study and a bit of prayer mixed in. We did that for over three years. He fed me with his interest in the Bible; like a dry sponge soaking up water. I like to think I fed him with a bit of a model of what a Christian a few years older than him might look like; perhaps a bit of a glimpse into his future. When he decided to be baptized into Christ, I was privileged to be the one he asked to do the deed. He became, as it were, “my true son in the faith.” 

We lost contact with each other long ago, but the last I heard he was still very much an involved Christian, about the only one, really, of his remaining family. He remains in my thoughts and prayers to this day, though it’s been twenty years since I saw him last.

Heavenly Father, I come thanking you in the name of Jesus for all the young people in this world like Brent, young folks who hunger and thirst for you. Thank you for the encouragement they are to those of us a little bit older years and faith. Smile on Brent, wherever he is these days, and bless my “son in the faith.” Ever draw his heart closer to you, I pray. Amen.