Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Randy Edwards

This past Saturday a memorial service was held for one of the most unusual men I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Randy Edwards.

Randy entered my life after I had been serving as pastor at Denver First Church for about 6 months. The youth pastor had resigned shortly after I arrived and we had spent several months searching for his replacement. Randy was one of the candidates, but Randy didn't fit the mold. You know what I'm talking about, I'm sure. A youth pastor is supposed to be fresh out of seminary....or at least college. A youth pastor should be "cool" and "hip." He's supposed to be up on the latest rap music and reading the latest youth magazines. Randy, it would appear, was none of the above. Like me, he was overweight. His hair was thinning before shaved heads were in vogue. He was "old." I mean, he was close to my age. There was no way I was going to hire Randy.

But time passed and other candidates didn't seem to fit and Randy was there. He had been a member of Denver First Church all his life. He had grown up in the youth group there under the leadership of Roger Clay. Roger was promoting Randy for the job. Gregg Moran was promoting Randy. Derrell and Buzz and Colleen and Lester all seemed to be on his side as well and they were the youth sponsors.

At the next meeting of the Board I presented Randy's name for the position. I was shocked when  George Turner said, "Pastor, you don't bring staff hires to us for permission. Hiring and firing is your responsibility." Well, alright then. I guess Randy is the guy. I called him after the meeting to set up breakfast the next morning.

We met at La Peep's. I told Randy about the meeting the night before and that he would want to give his current employer (he was manager at a Wal-Mart) notice. I almost choked on my French toast when he said, "I did that two weeks ago. God told me to. I'm ready to go to work as soon as breakfast is over." Wow! That was to be only the first time that I would see him make decisions based on his relationship with God.

Randy lived in a different place spiritually than most people I've met. A different place than I've lived most of my life. There was an intimacy between he and God. I'm INCREDIBLY skeptical when someone says "God told me." I call that phrase the trump card. It's too often meant to silence discussion. That was not true with Randy.

Now don't misunderstand. Don't get the wrong idea. Don't assume that Randy was some old guy who lived in some ivory tower. A guy so heavenly minded that he was no earthly good. In fact, the opposite is true. Randy was so down to earth, so caring, so giving and filled with humor. He loved to laugh and did so often. His laugh would ring through the halls of the offices. He loved a good time....and the kids LOVED him. They adored him. They would have followed him off a cliff. When he assumed the role of Senior High Youth Pastor we were running about 40 kids in that department. Within months we were seeing 125. A fabulous youth choir was started that toured the country. While on those trips they witnessed miracles that they would never have seen apart from Randy and his faith. He taught them that nothing is impossible with God. And they believed him. His catch phrase was "Remember who you belong to." And they did. They still do.

Our youngest daugher, Jamie, was 15 when Randy became her youth pastor. We had been in Denver only months and she was struggling with the move. That first summer she accompanied the youth group on their mission trip to Tacate, Mexico and she grew homesick. Randy reminded her of her dad....at least physically. It was to Randy that she went when homesick on that trip. She cried. He held her like a father and comforted my little girl. He taught her well. He imparted the truth of the gospel to her.

My mind runs deep with memories of a guy who lived life to the fullest. Enjoyed life, family, his church and especially his family. He knew joy and heartache and he died the way he lived. With incredible courage and DEEP faith.

Godspeed Randy. I owe you, brother.