Our newest family member, Dan F. was called home to be with the Lord suddenly Sunday morning in his home. There are as yet no details. Dan was a recent addition to our fellowship, bringing a joy of the Gospel of Jesus and a real outgoing personality, I will miss his voice saying, “Go on now,Tell it!” , as I preached.
Friday night we spoke for an hour on the phone. Dan told me that he was ready to tell his story of sixty years in hope I would right a book about his life. I will need to wait till I meet him in glory to hear it all, but let me share what I do know from his testimony.
Dan grew up in a large Italian family in New Jersey as the only white kid in the neighborhood. It must not be easy to be a white minority member, but what was harder still is when the family finally moved to a white neighborhood, Dan did not fit in at all, as he was socialized in a African -American community and was never able to adjust to his new setting. Once again he was an outcast. He said he tried prison on the East Coast and the West Coast, and preferred neither.
Dan struggled with addiction and anger management. He married a beautiful black woman he called the love of his life, and served as a deacon, the only white member of a black church, and felt quite at home there. Addiction has no respect for title. Deacon, pastor, husband, the monster that is addiction can never be ignored or it will strike even after it has been pronounced dead.
I met Dan after he left a Salvation Army six month program. Sixty years old and starting over once again. The church gave him a grub stake to get proper clothes, and he began a menial job, truly starting from the bottom again. What courage it must take to get up in the morning in a strange town, alone, fight the good fight of life, working , battling addiction, trying to make amends with loved ones damaged by the selfishness that comes from the addicts life. Great faith is needed to gather strength to go on.
We were at a homeless shelter feeding those gathered, when Dan gave his testimony. People stood up as he walked from the podium and got in line to hug him. I never saw that before. His message of his own frailty and God’s power reached across racial and social lines with the power of a lumberjack’s ax. His dependence on God’s mercy for a victory gave hope to us all.
When we last spoke there was a weariness in Dan’s voice. It was the sound of a man who had packed three lifetimes of pain and struggle into one non-stop dramatic episode. The world will not understand, but most of you will, a loving God gave Dan what he desired most, peace and rest. Death to the world is the end of life, to us it is the beginning. Imagine Dan with an incorruptible body that has no destructive desires, no damaged parts, no scars and war wounds. Imagine him with a heart, not broken with failure and short coming, but filled with the awe of God. Imagine him in a place where his speech patterns and color will be irrelevant. That is Dan’s future, that is Dan’s eternity.
I feel privileged to have met Dan, to be a small part of his life, to have heard a small part of his story, and to have been his friend and pastor at the end of his earthly run. It is a joy to know that Dayspring was a pleasure to him, and provided a church home for a short but important time.
Dan died struggling with life, I am sure he was in a period of victory , but even if he had slipped into defeat, but I am sure it would not affect his Salvation. Our future of being in His Presence does not depend on our victories in life, but in Christ’s Victories on the Cross! Dan knew who His Savior was, why he needed Him, and fought the battle with all his might. Can any of us do better?
Dayspring will have a memorial service for Dan F. Sunday night May 17th. We will be sad, yet we will celebrate. We will invite Dan’s associates from the S.A. and the rooms he visited in meetings, and celebrate the Victory that gives us the Great Hope. There will be music and funny stories, and definitely, cake. We will sing our songs of the faith, and also Against the Wind, a Seeger song that Dan said described much of his life. Pray that flint hearts will be softened and the Word received.
When I get before the Throne and start to praise my God for all Eternity, I just know there will be a voice in the background saying, “Yes!, go on now, Tell it!” Thanks Dan, you were an encouragement.
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