by J. Randal Matheny, editor

Elder Bob ChildressABILENE, Tex. (BNc) — Bob Childress went to be with the Lord last month. I was going to rework his obituary, which you can find here, and publish it on BNc. As important as those details are, however, they tell little about the gentle spirit whose whole existence revolved around serving the Lord.

Here’s a better sample, from Bob himself:

It is so interesting to watch young adults as you were when we first became acquainted to grow in maturity as they do with God’s help. I know that you, as all of us have, have had your share of “road closed-detour” signs, in life when you wondered if you were making any progress. Persistence and patience with the Lord moving at his own pace are the reward still ahead. Sometimes the biggest blessings we never see until we look back. Continue to put all your hopes, faith, and love in the one who died on the cross, and you and I will rejoice together when He is ready for us.      Bob Childress

This was one of the last emails, dated 7 Feb. 2009, I received from Bob. I’d shared an open-hearted article with some friends, and I’d sent the link to Bob. He replied in kind.

Though I’ve known Bob since 1982, many people knew him better than I and could describe him in finer detail. But Bob and Mary, his perfect match of a wife, always had time for me and my family. As an elder of the Baker Heights congregation, he was one of the group who decided on our support. He and Mary were our first American visitors during our first year on the mission field and one of the few repeat visitors.

Soft-spoken, quick to laugh, always seeing the positive side of every situation, Bob had a sympathetic ear and knew how to speak a word of correction or encouragement.

Bob was always ready for new adventures. In 1995, well into his 70s, long after others would be settled in for the remainder of their time, Bob and Mary left Baker Heights to help begin the Oldham Lane congregation across town, where a work was needed. But this experience was old hat for Bob. He and Mary had left the University church in 1961 to begin the Baker Heights congregation near the Air Force base in order to reach out to the military.

Bob was a generous man. Only the Lord knows the people he and Mary helped and the ministries they personally supported. They both were hospitable folk; we were guests in their home several times and experienced their warmth and love up close. Bob would take our boys for a motorcycle ride and set them up to play Oregon Trail on the computer.

A Texas rancher, businessman, and community servant, Bob’s interests were wide-ranging, but he was at heart a simple man who enjoyed a cattle auction or a barbeque to benefit a needy cause. We tagged along with him to both.

I never discovered his faults. As a model of meekness committed to the right paths, Bob personified for me everything a man of God should be.

After knowing Bob, I knew that giants still walked the earth. Now, another strolls the streets of heaven.

When the Lord is ready for me, Bob, yes, you and I will rejoice together.