WHO ARE THESE MEN?
This photo was taken on May 6, 1956 at the Shady Grove Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. The man on the right is Rev. Milton Baldwin, the pastor of the church. The man on the left is Robert Craig who later served as the president of East Texas Baptist University from 1986-1992. The man second from the right is Ben Dean, my father. He was 24 years old at the time. All three men are in heaven. I do not know anything about the other two men, but since the picture was taken 56 years ago, it is likely they also have died.
I knew Rev. Baldwin as Uncle Milton, because he was my mom’s uncle. I have been blessed to grow up in a genuinely Christian family. Not only were my parents faithful followers of Jesus Christ, but both my grandfathers were Baptist preachers. The spiritual heritage of these two patriarchs of our family has been influential through the generations.
Why is this photo important to me? On that Sunday evening, the Shady Grove Baptist Church led by Uncle Milton ordained these four men, including my father, to be deacons of the church. A few years ago, my mom gave to me the Deacon Ordination Certificate for my Dad. It states, “This is to Certify that Ben Dean having been chosen as a man ‘of good report, full of the Spirit and of wisdom,’ capable of using the office well and of ‘holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience’ was set apart publicly to the office and work of Deacon.” I am thankful that my Dad lived out his commitment to serve Jesus Christ all the way to the moment God called him home. Dad was a successful businessman and received many recognitions and awards. However, the most lasting things he accomplished are tied to his service for Christ. A plaque in my office states, “Only one life. It will soon be past. Only what is done for Christ will last.”
For the three men that I know in this picture, I can affirm that they accomplished much for Christ during their lifetime. I would suspect that the same is true for the other two men, and I wish I knew more about them. As Father’s Day is approaching, this picture reminds me just how quickly life is over and how important to focus each day on serving the Lord Jesus Christ.