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Dr. Falwell (1933-2007)


Dr. Falwell passed away today at the age of 73. I believe history will reflect a man who made even a greater impact than we can see today. I loved that man and his ministry.
It was not until I arrived at Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church did I believe the local church could actually change the world. My view of church was very small and honestly my view of God was just as small. To this day I go over to Lynchburg, VA to get inspired. When you look around at all God has done through that man's ministry you can see the power of God. Throughout my entire time at Liberty and even working at Thomas Road and LCA (school) I couldn't believe the constant vision that came from this man. He never stopped moving the vision God had given him forward. He was truly larger than life.

People who only knew the Doc from his television appearances missed out on understanding the man. He was a pitbull when it came to fighting for what he believed but he was a gentle giant when it came to being around him in person.

He loved Jesus.
He always said that the smartest man in the world was the man who knew the bible best. He was thirsty for God's word. He taught all of the students at LU to rise early and be in God's word. He would tell us that he has read "My Utmost for His Highest" nearly every day of his life since his conversion.

He loved the church.
My sister-in-law passed away several years ago and it was Dr. Falwell who performed a Memorial service. He was extremely compassionate and loving to the family. His memory was as sharp as I'd ever seen. He wouldn't forget your name. During all of his years of national prominence he remained the Senior Pastor of T.R.B.C.

He loved Liberty University and it's students.
He's said over and over again that LU is his legacy. One of the biggest things I noticed as a student was that he sincerely loved us. He thought of us as grandchildren. You'd often see him interacting with students around campus or 4-wheeling in his Suburban across lawns or up the side of a hill from the baseball field to the Mansion where his office was. He loved Liberty University. Dr. Falwell had a few select lessons he preached every year. While to some it became a joke that he kept telling us about the founding of the church, how he met his wife or the founding of the University... he did it for days like today and tomorrow. When he wasn't there to tell us anymore.

He loved to laugh.
He had a handshake that would break down giants and during convocation he was known for bear hugging and picking up men larger than himself. More than once did he roll up behind me in his big S.U.V. with a huge smile on his face as he made you wish you had a diaper on. He was a jokester.

He loved his grand kids.
Many times around Thomas Road I would see him interact with his grand children. I remember seeing him come in for a fall harvest event where his grandchildren were jumping on the inflatable games we had brought in. He was so proud to sit next to the inflatables and play with his grandkids who were jumping around inside. They'd run out and jump up to grandpa's lap.

He loved his wife. He always said that Macel was his strength and that she kept him in line. His marriage is an amazing testimony. With all of the traveling and work she remained by his side and he to her. Dr. Falwell demonstrated a man who loved, respected and honored his wife. He gave guys like me an example of what could be if a man did it God's way.

He loved his children.
Dr. Falwell has three accomplished children. Jonathan and Jerry Jr. will take over TRBC and LU respectively while his third child, his daughter Jeannie is a Doctor. He often bragged about them and let them know publicly they were loved.

He loved humanity.
Dr. Falwell was a man who did something about injustices. While he may be known for controversial remarks on hot-button topics like homosexuality or abortion, Dr. Falwell is lesser known for being a man who started an inner-city ministry to the poor, a home for Alcoholics and drug addicts, a crisis pregnancy center for unwed (mostly teenage) mothers, an adoption agency, on and on. He came up in a time when conservatives needed a big time voice. Conservative Christians had lost their voice and allowed others to push forward an agenda contrary to scripture as Dr. Falwell saw it. He became a voice (a booming one at that) for those issues that were underrepresented in the public square.

He didn't run for office. He didn't go around naming buildings after himself. He leveraged his entire being to fighting injustices and spreading the cause of Christ. He leaves behind him a legacy that will not be fully known in the next 20 years. With the fastest growing Christian University (now over 10k on campus and 20k in distance learning) on the rise, the impact of Dr. Falwell will be known in the later part of this generation and in the future. While society will discuss Moral Majority and Dr. Falwell's entertaining quotes, people like me are impacted by how he loved his family and how he taught me that God can still use one man to change the world. Presidents were elected with the help of this man but I promise you janitors at Thomas Road have had their lives changed by him as well.

If I can be half the man that Dr. Falwell was, I would have been a great and God-honoring man.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Tuesday, May 15, 2007

2 Comments:

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Mitch Corn said...

Great post!!! We've lost a great leader. His leagacy should now shine on through those of us who had the opportunity to work for and study under Dr. Falwell. We have a responsibility to carry on the leadership of the church and the pursuit of a Godly soceity. It's a large task but Dr. Falwell prepared us well.

 
At 4:45 PM, Blogger Olivia said...

Boy Tally you really hit the nail on the head! Being a citizen of Lynchburg you can only imagine the pain and loss we are feeling here! I have never seen so many people come together to morn the loss of a Pastor as I am witnessing now. It is such a loss for not only Lynchburg VA and LU but for the whole country, we are lacking in pastors willing to stand up for true convictions and moral decline. Dr Falwell was never ever afraid to stand up for the gospel. It is a very sad time here in Lynchburg, oh but the good he has brought to this town... The best town in America in my oppinion

 

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