Written by Dr. Ted Burleson
An important reminder for those who dedicate their lives to Christian education is Paul’s admonition to Timothy. Entrust the gospel message to faithful men who will be able to share with others (cf. 2 Tim 2:2). Daily at Heritage Christian University, we endeavor to follow Paul’s instruction. Recently, I was reminded of Paul’s principle in a particularly strong way.
For over 70 years, Jack Wilhelm preached the gospel and served as a leader in Christian education. From his work with the RSVP Newsletter, hundreds of us have copies of Jack’s sermons that we have used throughout the years. His dedication to God and to the teaching of His word was evident to all who knew him.
That being true, at least one of our current HCU students looked to Jack as a spiritual mentor and best friend. Rickey Collum, a student who plans to graduate in May, was forever changed by his encounter with Jack Wilhelm. Some preachers might have been tempted to give up on Rickey because of his past experiences, however, Jack did the opposite; he encouraged him to never give up!
In turn, Rickey, the long-time preacher for the Cherokee Church of Christ in Cherokee, Alabama, now encourages the young men in the congregation to preach God’s word. Each fifth Sunday of the month, seven to eight young men speak at Rickey’s home congregation. At first, he writes their sermons, but later, he teaches the young men to write the sermons themselves.
To paraphrase Paul’s message to Timothy, Jack entrusted the gospel with Rickey, and Rickey is teaching others also. The message Rickey spoke at Jack’s funeral was heart touching and sincere. He continues the mentoring role that he learned from his mentor. Who knows if another Larimore is among the young men at Cherokee?
One of our HCU board members, David Shannon, said in his lecture at the Freed-Hardeman Lectureship on February 11, “The elder or preacher that does not duplicate himself is not worth his salt.” Jack Wilhelm, Rickey Collum and the young men of the Cherokee congregation are powerful examples of duplicating themselves. To God be the glory!