Thursday, February 18, 2016
My Hero, My Partner
This is Mr. Darnel Robinson. Darnel was saved on March the 5th of the year 2000 while a guest at the Camden County Jail in Woodbine Georgia. He is in his mid 60's, and blind due to complications from diabetes, and as you can see , he is easily the handsomest guy I know.
Time would fail me to tell you of the adventures we've had. For the last 13 years or so, it has been my privilege and my honor to labor in the ministry with this man. Together we have knocked on every door in his town at least once. We have preached on so many corners together and under so many circumstances. We have literally talked to thousands of people about their souls. Despite his handicaps he is faithful and as true as any man can be. Out of everyone I have ever labored with, he has the best excuses not to labor, and yet he fights on.
Since he is blind, he has to learn his Bible by listening to it on tape or CD. He listens all the way through the Bible 3 or 4 times a year, and has vast passages memorized. In fact, it is absolutely embarrassing how much Bible he knows compared to me, and how his mind can jump from reference to reference. He has a voice that can be heard for blocks, that I affectionately refer to as The Big Beautiful Black Man Voice. He preaches without notes and can expound on scriptures like nobody I have ever seen, his thick black voice rolling out seemingly effortlessly with a "Da Bible do say..." Though technically I helped train him, he has surpassed me in everything I ever taught him. Darnel Robinson is the preacher I want to be when I grow up.
Darnel and I know each other inside and out. It turns out, as you walk from house to house together, you find out a lot about a man. We have bore our hearts one to another. He knows things about me my wife doesn't know. He has seen me at my best, and at my worst. We have both labored when neither one of us wanted to. We have preached in the hot, and preached in the cold. We have preached in the rain. We have preached to the hopeful and to the hostile. He has always been kind, and always tolerant of my foolishness. He has never rejoiced in my flaws. He has always given me way too much credit for what we do.
Because of his various health issues, he has to live a very regimented life. He can't just get up and go, he has to plan. He has to think about what he is eating, and when. Spontaneity or pushing himself too far could throw him into a coma. I know, not because he's told me, that some of our late night expeditions in the ministry take a toll on him. I suspect it takes him days to recover. Yet he fights on.
Recently he caught a cold, and it took him out of commission for a week or so. His blindness is almost complete now. Door knocking is nearly impossible for him. He is experiencing some heart palpitations, and is getting winded easily. I know the man inside and out. I know how he moves, and how he talks and how he thinks, and I know that my partner is slowing down. This is the way of things, the way of life. We have discussed this, and the truth is we are all dying, just at different speeds. Neither one of us is getting any younger, and I know that, eventually, one of us will leave the other behind.
Truth be told, I don't entirely know what my ministry will look like without my partner. I labored alone for a few years and God sent me a help, and his presence has helped shape the man I have become. It has shaped my ministry more than I may even realize. Time will eventually separate us, and however much longer we have, I know that for me, it won't be long enough.
I suppose at this point I should come up with a moral to this story. I should probably say something about how you ought to do all you can for God while you can, and that's certainly true. I should probably exhort you to die with your boots on, and don't believe your own excuses. That's sound advice. I should remind you that Jesus Christ deserves your all, and he certainly does.
Instead I will leave you with this; it's one thing to say 'let's all just work and labor and burn out for Jesus!'. It's another thing to watch it happen.