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Alabama fathers leave good influencecomment (0)

June 17, 2004

By Johnie Sentell

Next Sunday is Father’s Day, so let me mention a few outstanding Alabama fathers and sons.

Cecil Sewell Jr., pastor of Saks First Baptist Church (Calhoun Assoc.), has served in the ministry for 50 years. A story about him is printed on page 14.

His father is a much-loved member of West End Baptist Church in Clanton, a church he served as pastor years ago. Brother Sewell, 94, uses a wheelchair now, but when his pastor, Tony Smitherman, needed someone to fill the pulpit last Sunday, he got Bro. Sewell to do it. And every week he teaches a large Sunday School class at West End.

Gerow Hodges is a member of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham and a retired insurance company executive. He has long served Samford University as a trustee, but even as a young man he well served his fellow man.

A recent program on public television traced his steps during World War II when he negotiated a unique swap of prisoners between Nazi and Allied forces. Some of the 149 Allied soldiers and airmen would have died except for his efforts.

His son Andrew, a Christian psychiatrist, has written a very helpful book about the Son of God. “Jesus: An Interview Across Time” could be used as a helpful follow-up to Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ.” Using his knowledge of humanity and his strong faith in Jesus, the good doctor has written a book that is a pleasure to read.

In south Alabama, Father’s Day will not be the same this year for Billy Joy, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Enter-prise.

His father, Bill Joy, who had been serving as interim pastor of Atmore First Baptist Church four months and who suffered from congestive heart failure, died in January.

On the Sunday before he died, he told the congregation, “This will probably be the last sermon that I will ever preach.”

A couple of days later his son got word that he was in the hospital and went to be with him. “He had already told me he wanted me to do his funeral,” said Bro. Joy. “I read to him what I was going to say. He was 72 years old. He served the Lord all his life. He finished strong. He faced death with courage.”

Brother Joy had served as a pastor for some 40 years. His son said, “While I was growing up, my father was always the one I wanted to emulate. He was not only my father but also my mentor and best friend. He had a great impact on so many different lives. I feel very fortunate to have had him as my father.”

In Sylacauga, Todd Reaves, pastor of Mignon Baptist Church, remembered his father, Arthur Reaves, “as good a man as you would ever meet.

“He taught a Sunday School class about 60 years at Oak Ridge Baptist Church in Blue Mountain” (Calhoun Assoc.).

He served as the church’s chairman of deacons for more than 50 years and died at 81 about seven years ago.

Brother Reaves said, “I did bivocational work about six years, and my dad went everywhere I spoke. He had em-phy-sema and had to carry his oxygen with him consistently for about two years. He traveled many, many roads with me — it didn’t matter where it was. He died before I went into full-time ministry.”

Brother Reaves has a brother 23 years his senior who serves as pastor of a nearby church. Tommy Reaves, pastor of Marble City Baptist Church, will retire Sept. 30 after 42 years in the ministry.

He noted their father “didn’t have the opportunity of education we have now, but he was quite a student of the Bible.

He would be out in the field and a thought would come to him, and he would go to the house and study for a while.

“He always felt you should do right by everybody in everything, and the Lord will always make things right for you,” said Bro. Reaves.

“He worked in the cast iron foundry as a molder, and he farmed on his off time.We plowed many hours together in those old fields.

“He was a prince of a man.”

Could any father ask for a finer remembrance?
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