Most of us who knew John (also known as Tom), knew that he loved the Lord. However, I don’t think most of us knew that he had a “secret” life in God. My brother and I spoke often, especially in the last year of his life. And many times our conversations turned to Scripture and things that we had both discovered about God in our daily walk with Him.
My brother’s religious experience was different than mine. His childhood religious upbringing didn’t “take.” He didn’t find Jesus until his 30s. His voyage of discovery was home-grown and full of his own unique interpretations of God’s working in our daily lives.
My brother had a rough childhood and a rough life. Although he was brilliant, he was self-educated. He worked for the railroad, in construction and as a trucker. He also worked in my law office for a while. There were a number of years when things were rough financially. He was applying for disability which he eventually received from the Railroad Retirement System.
I was a pastor during the mid to late 90s. While I was attending a pastor’s meeting I was inspired to take a team consisting of a “punk” band and skateboarders to New Zealand for a missions trip. The church and I didn’t have the money to sponsor such a trip. I felt the Lord whisper, “Ask your brother,” and so I did. He gave generously a tithe and offering of the amount he received in retroactive disability payments.
As a result of that trip dozens of young people gave their lives to Christ, and one of the largest churches in New Zealand was started!
About a year ago the Lord inspired my brother to begin tithing. He chose to send those offerings to the ministry at the Crossroads Ranch. He never once asked me how I was using the money (the past year has been a financial struggle to make the monthly mortgage payments). He just kept giving regularly at the beginning and in the middle of the month.
Last April that investment began to bear fruit. Crossroads has seen baptisms. We are doing outreaches in Oregon, Central Coast of California, Phoenix Metro, Las Vegas and Nashville. We have established a sober living program. We are almost ready to accept visitors to our therapeutic horse program. All of this is at least indirectly the result of my brother’s financial support.
I spoke to John on the Saturday before he died. He was peaceful and happy. Both of us have had some difficult family processing to do in our lives. He gave me some wise counsel that I am still processing. In many areas my brother was a better man than I am. He was able to suffer great loss and forgive. I am more than a little reluctant to forgive some of my past hurts.
John, I know you are heading down a highway of gold right now on a gold-plated Harley! My love goes out to John’s children and grandchildren. I know that he loved each and every one of them in a special way. My friend Riz helped me record a tribute to my brother. I have sung this song a number of times, but never with such heartfelt emotion. Thank you my brother, for everything. Rest in peace…