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Let it be said of me...

This past week I attended the greatest funeral I may ever attend.

Dr. Falwell was a giant among men for me and his funeral only reinforced who I knew him to be. We went with our friends John and Amber. They stood in line at 7 a.m. and we arrived at 8 a.m. (for a 1 p.m. service).

[Our friend Olivia (former founding member of Focal Point) came up huge for us by watching Caleb so we could break way for the day. Caleb LOVED his time with them and I'm thankful for friends that would be so kind on such short notice.]

We got in line at 8 a.m. and stood until 11 a.m. when the main doors opened. Because John and Amber were so early we were able to stand right near the front where the VIP entrance was. It was an Evangelical convention with the biggest names in Christianity. There were VIPs and then there were "VERY-VIP's". The "very" group got slipped in the back while the rest of the VIP's got to stand outside (albeit at a separate entrance). Basically if you think of evangelical Christianity... they were on hand.

We got our seats at about 11 a.m. and we were in the center about 15 rows back. The pre-service included a great video tribute down memory lane. Even in the tribute I noticed something that is NEVER reported and even something Dr. Falwell didn't talk much about.... his missions involvement to the poorest of the world. Video footage from his entire ministry showed him talking with, hugging and feeding some of the worlds most starved children. He was shown in India where LU has a long-established presence helping the poor. It showed him in Russia around the fall of the Soviet Union where he walked away from the escorts to chat with an 'average' citizen. There were also of course the many encounters with dignitaries, church members, family and students.

The service included stories from long-time friends, Franklin Graham, Dr. Jerry Vines and a message from the President. One of the most touching parts of the service was when his daughter spoke to us with her brother's flanking either side. She spoke of her brothers in light of her dad passing and requested that we pray for them to fulfill THEIR unique calling from God and not to expect them to be Jerry Falwell.

Dr. Graham hit me hard when he talked about the Liberty Students' reputation around the country. Before sending his children to LU he asked a Pastor friend about Liberty and they said "Send your kids there. There is something about that place... those students come out with a fire in their belly! It's a different school Franklin. Send your kids to Liberty." That about summed up my feeling of LU under Dr. Falwell's leadership. Students who came away ready to take on the world. Students with a 'fire in their belly'.

Dr. Falwell was honored on so many levels. He had the ability to get along with Presidents and custodians, the politician and the poor. Dr. Falwell was a fighter for morality but a lover of one woman for 50 plus years. He was the Pastor of one church and he never sought political office. He wasn't interested in being popular, he was interested in being purposeful. He's the only man who upon death can get hate from the far left because he didn't support homosexuals while at the same-time have his funeral protested by a group on the far right saying that he loved them. He was a man who fought Larry Flint for millions of dollars but became a friend and told him publically that he wanted to see him come to Christ so he could be Flint's Pastor.

He completely disagreed with Al Sharpton on just about everything but Sharpton gave one of the best descriptions about him and said "When you get to know Jerry, you have to like him personally." Dr. Falwell did not approve of alcohol consumption but he opened homes to the alcoholics so they can recover. He spoke out against abortion but opened up homes where unwed mothers could come on his dime and the dime of his ministry to receive top-notch prenatal care. J.C. Watts said it this way:

"These young women from around the country paid not one dime for their medical care. Not one dime for housing. Not one dime for food. And not one dime for Pampers. They were, in fact, pampered. Because of Jerry Falwell's compassion, thousands of young lives were saved, and thousands of childless couples experienced the joy of adoption."

The tone of the memorial service itself was a powerful testimony of why people should accept Christ. This was certainly a Christian memorial service. This was not the end.

Dr. Falwell always wore a lapel pin that said "Jesus First" and frankly that's the way the service was conducted. Jesus was first in Dr. Falwell's life and everything about the service put Jesus First in the mind and hearts of those who were in the building.

If you would like to see the service to get a feel for what I mean it is available online.

In addition if you wish to get a copy of the service and LU's commencement service, they are being shipped out for the cost of shipping. They are making no money on these DVD's. Jonathan and Jerry Jr. just wanted people to have the opportunity to share in the memorial of their father. You can get the DVD's here.

After all of this week's emotions, the one biggest take-away I had was yet again another challenge from Dr. Falwell to be a Champion for Christ.

Let it be said of me that I walked with Jesus. Let it be said of me that all who came in contact with me knew that is where my loyalties rest. Let it be said of me that a city was changed because I stood for the cause of Christ.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Saturday, May 26, 2007


At 6:47 PM, Anonymous Loni said...

What a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing and giving us a glimpse of it. I always like Jerry Fawell - never met him personally but appreciated his ministry. Now He is forever in His Savior's glory.


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