Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Dr. Jerry Falwell

Photo: Dr. Falwell and wife, Macel, children and grandchildren.

My husband and I lost a friend today. One that changed our lives in more ways than we will ever know.

The friend, of course, was Dr. Jerry Falwell, whom we have never seen as a fanatic, strait-laced, or bellicose preacher--the way the media often portrays him. To us he has always been Dr. Jerry, and we love him.

Hubby and I both arrived on the campus of Liberty University back in the fledgling days of mud and ugly green buses. In 1977, I had only seen the college on television, yet I went there on a scholarship because I was to join the musical group that went around singing and raising money for the school. So we traveled--I think one semester I was in class exactly half the time--but I was able to observe Dr. Falwell behind the scenes.

I have never met a man more unafraid to speak up for what is right. I have never met a man who believed so confidently and completely in the Word of God. I have never met a man more willing to cut up . . . if the time was right.

He was a devoted family man, a natural merry-maker, and willing to apologize when he'd made a mistake. He was committed to the Word of God, sold-out to the Lord, and willing to invest his life in the students who came to study at Liberty University.

I've seen him go down a waterslide in a suit . . . and saw his smile as students of Liberty University let him body surf over the crowd. He went to every possible game in which his children or LU students played. He was brilliant, a family man who loved his wife, children, and grandchildren, and he was forgiving.

In our dorm (an old hotel), I learned that an elderly lady, Mama Lind, lived on the second floor. And why did she live there rent free? Because she was a "widow indeed," and according to the Scripture, the church should take care of widows who had no children to support them. So Mama Lind lived with us, and "grandmothered" us, and we loved her. Jerry did that.

Perhaps it's because he was a rascal himself in his youth, but time after time, I saw Dr. Jerry forgive someone who had committed some sort of indiscretion . . . . and soon they were back in the ministry. It wasn't until I left and began to observe other organizations that I realized how rare that kind of forgiveness is. I've seen more people fall by the wayside . . . but Dr. Jerry knew we serve a God of second chances.

The last time I was in Lynchburg, Dr. Falwell came into the classroom where I was, gave me a bear hug, and told me he was proud of me . . . and it was all I could do not to burst into tears. Some part of me will always be that young college coed who was desperately seeking to train myself for whatever the Lord might ask me to do. To think that Jerry thought I'd achieved even a little something . . . meant so much.

He wasn't perfect, but he was a good man. A brave man. A man who would--and did-- stake everything on being on the Lord's side.

If Jerry Falwell hadn't stepped out in faith to build a college, I wouldn't have the education I do. I wouldn't have met my husband. I wouldn't have my children. I wouldn't have my job.

And mine is just one of thousands of lives Jerry Falwell touched through his lifetime. Please join me in praying for his family, who will miss him dreadfully. And for the students, who will doubtless begin to think about how he has changed the course of their lives, too.

I pray he enjoys his first look around heaven.

~~Angie

P.S. If this is Wednesday, I'm flying to Colorado. See you CWCC folks soon!

11 comments:

Kay said...

I think Farklempt is the word to describe how we are feeling now.

BJ said...

What a beautiful euology, Angie.

BJ

Kay said...

I just remembered one Easter when we were to have the service outside in the football stadium. It was raining. But a few minutes before church started, Dr. Falwell got up to the mike and said, with all the confidence in the world, "Don't worry. I've prayed about it and it will stop raining. The sun is going to come out before the service starts."
We all laughed a little at his bold statement as we sat shivering on wet bleachers under our umbrellas.
But sure enough. Just minutes later the clouds parted and the sun came out. The rain was gone. That made quite an impression on me. That man knew how to pray and how to believe.

Cindy said...

A beautiful, moving tribute, Angie. I linked to it on my blog. My dad attended Bible college with Jerry in the late 50's, and he was always kind and gracious to my father whenever their paths crossed.

jan said...

jerry falwell will be missed! our prayers go out to all.

Catherine said...

Angie,
I hope all the Falwells and the Liberty family get to read your tribute. When someone is depicted as one way in the media and it does not reflect the character of the man, it can make life difficult on the family. You took the time to write the truth and something that shows love and honor to our brother who has gone on to glory. Well done!
Catherine

Accidental Poet said...

So sorry for your loss, Angie.

Southern Girl said...

That was a lovely tribute. I appreciated hearing about him from your perspective. I can't say that I agreed with him on everything, but I had a great deal of respect for him as a man of God, and never once doubted his committment to the cause of Christ. I know my pastor, Adrian Rogers, loved Dr. Falwell.

Christina Berry said...

Did you sing at the State House in Trenton, NJ, on Nov. 10, 1980? There is a woman shown in a picture in the paper today singing behind Dr. Falwell that really, really looks like you.

Angie said...

Beautiful tribute. And I whole-heartedly agree that many in ministry are not so forgiving, much to the detriment of the Body. What a great example Dr. Falwell gave to those who served along side of him.

Enjoy the mountains!!

John H. said...

Well said, Angie. Too many in the Christian family tend to shoot their "survivors" rather than restore them as scripture admonishes us! I will miss him too. I remember all too well his love of a good prank.