Anthrocide is the official website for D.L. Hamilton, author of several Christian novels and essays.

Archive for December, 2009

Richard Yoder…

Richard Yoder was a devout Christian man. For some 45 years Richard Yoder was a gospel preacher. He was never a big-name preacher, even in the small community of churches where he was known. I doubt he ever ministered in a church of more than 50 people. Though he offered literally thousands of invitations in his ministerial life he never had Billy-Graham-like responses where an entire football field is filled with converts. In fact, in the 3+ years I regularly attended the church where he preached so tirelessly I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of conversions that resulted. But there was one that was of particular significance to me: my own.

You see, back in the spring of 1968 I became smitten, as they used to say, by a gorgeous little blue-eyed blond named Rebecca (Becki). She was two years behind me in high school and she was also a preacher’s daughter. She was Richard Yoder’s daughter. Now, sometimes preachers’ kids become notoriously rebellious, but not so with Becki. She was a devoted daughter and a devoted Christian. Me? I was an atheist. As we started “dating” (as much as her dad would allow) Becki never demanded that I convert to Christ or even attend church. However, I did attend because that’s where she was so often.

I wasn’t there to listen, I was there to pass notes and spend time with her. But eventually things started to happen. One was that I began to observe the love within her family and to realize that it was the influence of their–especially the parents’–belief in Christ that made it what every family should be. I also realized that part of what made me love Becki was Jesus in her. I also began to actually pay attention to those sermons her dad kept preaching. After some months had passed I began to realize that what this man was saying made sense. In fact, it made sense of the world, of life itself. Eventually I realized that the gospel of Jesus was true. It had to be; it was the only logical, coherent, rational explanation for what life is all about.

On Sunday, January 5, 1969, Richard Yoder called me over to his study and asked me if I was ready to act upon what I’d been hearing. That evening he baptized me into Christ. On July 7, 1973 he became my father-in-law as I married that wonderful little gal that I’m thrilled to say remains my wife after 36+ years. Richard, along with Becki’s mom, Mary, continued to be wonderful Christian influences, wonderful in-laws, and wonderful grandparents to our sons Paul and Scott.

Richard Yoder was not famous or even a gifted speaker. But he was dearly loved by a great number of people and exuded Jesus in all of his life. While he may not have legions of converts to show for his faithful service, his influence for Christ was deep and far-reaching nonetheless.

And among those he did help bring into the Kingdom of God, there’s me. Richard Yoder was more than my father-in-law, Richard Yoder was my father in the faith. For that I am literally eternally grateful. He passed the baton of salvation to me. My prayer is that I will successfully pass it on as well.

On December 18, 2009, at 90 years of age Richard Yoder went to be with the Lord he had served so faithfully. Thanks, Dad. I shudder to think where I might be had it not been for you.

– Your loving son in the faith, Don.

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