Last Saturday, two amazing men of God were laid to rest on the same day. One was my dear cousin, Bishop Preston Raper, who lived in Chicago, and the other was my dear friend, Minister Alvin Spearman, who grew up in Shannon.
Both of these men were instrumental in my life and in the lives of others. When my oldest son, Tyler, learned that Minister Spearman had died, he immediately said, “What a wonderful man I got to meet in my lifetime. No matter what phase of life he was in, he would come to me as a man, father, brother, and as an uncle and give me all of his knowledge that he had acquired over his lifespan. Trying his best to prevent me from making some of the same mistakes he had made. I’ve always respected and loved him. Rest in Heaven.” What an impact Minister Spearman made on the lives of young people.
Minister Spearman was an encourager, very smart and gifted in the Word. He was a praise dancer and believer. During a down time in my life, Minister Spearman came by my office and asked me several questions. “Has God ever failed you?” I replied, “No.” He continued by paraphrasing, “His word says, ‘I have never seen the righteous forsaken – nor His seed begging bread.’ Are you and the children eating? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have a car? Do you have a job?” I replied, “Yes.” “Do you realize so many people would love to be in your shoes right now? I have been on the streets and seen the desperation in the eyes of many. You need to give God a praise and a shout for knowing that He will take care of you.”
Bishop Raper was also an encourager and very gifted in the Word. As a teenager, I spent a summer in Chicago with my Aunt Octavia. Preston would talk to me about life and about my purpose. This continued throughout the years. About eight weeks before he passed, we had a long conversation on the phone. I was distraught about some things happening in my life. His voice was weak, but he still encouraged me. He told me to believe God and to always fight my problems with the Word of God. He told me he was happy even in his state. He actually began to sing, “On, On, On to Glory to meet my dear Lord and Savior. On, On, On to glory land rejoicing in His Word. On to glory singing the story as happy as I can be.”
So thankful my sister Valerie, cousin Phyllis, and I had a chance to visit Preston before he passed. Valerie told him that he was her hero. He had imparted wisdom and knowledge of the Word in her life down through the years. She quoted to him, “Did you ever know that you’re my hero ... You’re everything I wish I could be ... for you are the wind beneath my wings ...” What an impact Bishop Raper made on our lives.
An unknown author said, “In life, you will realize there is a role for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you, some will love you, and some will teach you. But the ones who are truly important are the ones who bring out the best in you. They are the rare and amazing people who remind you why it’s worth it.”
These two rare and amazing men made a tremendous difference in our lives. During this season of Thanksgiving, I was reminded of the blessings of the Lord, even in the midst of my sadness and sorrow. Another unknown author said, “If someone comes into your life and has a positive impact on you, but for some reason they can’t stay, be thankful that your paths crossed and that they somehow made you happy, even if it was just for a short while.”
Are you thankful for the people in your life who have crossed your path? Are you making a difference in the lives of people – like Bishop Raper and Minister Spearman? You be the judge.