I recently lost a friend. He wasn’t a usual friend, but he was a very special friend. He was a 71-year-old man who attended my local congregation. His name was Richard Moore and anyone who knew him would tell you he was one of the most pleasant people you could ever meet. Mr. Moore had a rough life. He battled many health problems that resulted in him losing both legs. His kidneys gave him lots of trouble and he was a diabetic. In this article I would like to share with you the story of my friend, Mr. Moore, and how you can be blessed to have the same kind of friendships in your life.
Though I had known of Mr. Moore for many years, I never actually met him until the year 2000. I became his personal wheelchair chauffeur and would wheel him everywhere he wanted to go around church. While doing this, I got to talk to him a lot and I developed a good friendship with him. We talked about things like baseball and the Bible. Mr. Moore loved to talk about God and His truth.
The unstoppable Mr. Moore
You would think a man who had no legs and all these problems would not be able to make it to church. Well, not even the absence of legs could stop Mr. Moore! For years Mr. Moore attended the Akron, Ohio, congregation of the Church of God. When his health got worse, he was forced to move to Cleveland so he could be taken care of by his family, but he was so dedicated to the Akron congregation that he would drive 45 minutes each way to be with his spiritual brothers and sisters in Akron.
Nothing stopped Mr. Moore. He would have a family member wheel him down to his car and he took off to church. He was an excellent example and truly believed in the admonishment in Hebrews 10:25 Hebrews 10:25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
American King James Version×: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Mr. Moore’s favorite scripture was Exodus 20:8 Exodus 20:8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
American King James Version×: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Mr. Moore lived this scripture.
Whenever you saw Mr. Moore, you saw his smile. He always had a smile and an encouraging word. Even when his health really got bad, Mr. Moore still made sure he attended all of God’s Holy Days. Then, as his health deteriorated, no one thought he would be able to make it to the Passover service. I was serving on the security crew during the Passover of 2001 and was I surprised to see Mr. Moore being wheeled into the hall by his daughter! He had made it!
I then had the privilege of wheeling him into the auditorium. Just as he requested, I took him down to the front row so he could be with his brothers and sisters and partake of the Passover. It was one of the most honorable tasks I have ever performed. Mr. Moore was able to make every Spring Holy Day in 2001. The last Holy Day of his life was Pentecost. I think that is fitting because Mr. Moore was a first fruit, and instead of foreshadowing what the Fall Holy Days picture, the next thing Mr. Moore will do is actually live them!
Mr. Moore had many stories to tell. He led a very interesting life, which included playing football, professional baseball (in the Negro leagues) and serving as an officer in the Korean War. The last time I went out to eat with him, he sang the Korean national anthem at the dinner table! Even after his first leg was amputated, Mr. Moore played on the Akron congregation’s softball team and, as Dave Myers said in his eulogy, “He was still better than all of us.”
Mr. Moore was a great athlete. But we will not remember him for his athletic ability. He will be remembered for his faith in God, and his dedication to the truth and the Church. Mr. Moore’s favorite activity was to read his Bible, which he did all the time. He went through so many Bibles because he would wear them out so fast. Every week at church, I would ask him what he had been reading the past week, and then he would go on to expound on a certain area of Scripture he had been reading. I will miss that.
I thank God for letting me get to know Mr. Moore in the last years of his life. He was like the grandfather I never knew and he was the kind of man I hope I can be. He relied on God in faith through many hard times and God spared his life through many health problems. God didn’t heal my friend of his last health trial, but the Bible tells us, “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 Hebrews 9:27And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:
American King James Version×).
Eventually we all will die. It is the responsibility of the younger generations to take the baton from the older generations. We can only have that baton passed to us if we learn from those who held it before us. For those of us who are part of the younger generation, it is our job to be growing in faith and in knowledge so that we can be the kind of example to future generations as Mr. Moore was an example to so many of us in the Akron area. And one day, we, too, will also pass the baton to the next generation (if God allows this present age to go on that long).
We will miss Mr. Moore’s warm smile and encouraging words greatly. I will miss his stories about baseball players like Satchell Paige, Jackie Robinson and Josh Gibson. But as Christians, we are not saddened by death in the same way that the world is. Paul instructed us not to be “ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 1 Thessalonians 4:13But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
American King James Version×). As true Christians, we have hope in a future life in an age of peace with no suffering, an age we call “the world tomorrow.” Mr. Moore lived with the hope that he would be born again into God’s family.
Don’t ignore the elderly!
In my younger days, I was always afraid of older people. They always seemed to be in a completely different world. Mr. Moore taught me that your friends don’t always have to be your peers. As King Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 Ecclesiastes 1:9The thing that has been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
American King James Version×). Older people have experienced trials and experiences similar to what we will face in our lives.
We can’t let valuable resources for wisdom and advice go wasted! They also can enlighten us on history. Sometimes school textbooks don’t convey the full magnitude of historical events. Hearing a firsthand source describe the hardships of the Great Depression or what it was like fighting in World War II can be a priceless way to learn about history and just hear a good, interesting story. When you are studying 20th century history, don’t be afraid to go up to older people and ask them to tell you a little about that time. Most likely, you will get a lot more than that from them!
From my experience with Mr. Moore, I learned many important things. Here are four that struck me as particularly important:
Get to know the older people at church. Not just for their wisdom and experience, but because a lot of them are really cool people and have a great sense of humor and interesting stories. Leviticus 19:32 Leviticus 19:32You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD.
American King James Version×instructs us to honor the elderly. We don’t honor them by bowing down to them or paying them lip service. We honor them by respecting them enough to befriend them and value the things they say!
Listen to them! You won’t just get wisdom and good advice, you will also learn from their past mistakes. It will also give them a feeling of great satisfaction and joy when they see someone is listening and enjoying their stories.
Don’t wait to do it. Many of them have failing health and won’t always be able to participate in church. Make it a point to talk with an older person every Sabbath. You never know when you won’t be able to anymore.
Go out of your way to help them. Since some of them frequently have aches and pains and are sick, help them out whenever you see a need. Offering to wheel them out the door or carry their books is a great way to break the ice.
Don’t limit your friends to those your age or you’ll miss out on a lot! YU