Wednesday, June 20, 2012

An Entrance Richly Provided

One of my heroes' faith became sight last night after a long, fruitful life that had a huge impact for the Kingdom.

Ralph Davis graduated from the college that is now known as William Carey University (where I am a professor) in 1949.  His beloved bride Cora Joyce is also an alumna of our school.  They answered an ancient call, and moved away from south MS.  FAR away.  Nigeria & Ghana as missionaries with the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  (Now the International Mission Board)  They stayed there for 35 years before retiring back in Hattiesburg a couple of years before we moved here.

Mr. Ralph taught Sunday School, served as a deacon, and was a great encourager of many--including this new young college professor who joined their church.  He & Ms. Cora Joyce were so very friendly & warm & encouraging.  They never lost their passion for the Gospel nor for mission work nor for the Church.

One of the great experiences of my life was taking a group of college students over to their home one Sunday night when Lisa & I served in college Sunday School.  The Davises broke out the slides & pictures & artifacts from their time in Africa & started talking.  I watched some 20-year-old college students be totally captivated by some 60-something-year-old missionaries telling stories.  Of course, I was captivated too.

Peter wrote of the qualities the Christian life should entail.  (Peter didn't know Mr. Ralph, though he does now.)
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV)

I can't think of a better summary of Ralph Davis as I knew him. 

Peter goes on to say this:
...if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:10-11 ESV)

I am absolutely confident that this is what happened Monday night.  Lisa said that if we'd been paying attention, we might have heard the heavenly rejoicing.  It's going to be so very much fun to meet people from Nigeria & Ghana in glory whose story starts "This couple from Mississippi came to our village..."

Please join me in praying for Cora Joyce, and their children & grandchildren as they say "see you later" to their husband, father, & grandfather.  And rejoice with me and with them that because of the truth of the Gospel Ralph & Cora Joyce lived & proclaimed that it really is "see you later" instead of "goodbye."

slightly paraphrased from A Parable of Immortaliy, by Henry Van Dyke 1852-1933
And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
'There he goes! ' ,
there are other eyes watching his coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout :
'Here he comes!'

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