Saturday, August 12, 2017

Learning from my grandfather

Today I was reading the Sunday School lesson for tomorrow.  Helpful, since I'm the teacher...

The content is deep and I needed some help from a Greek scholar, so I called my daughter, who just finished five semesters of Biblical Greek.  She qualifies.

The content was also somewhat academic, and potentially dry, and given that it is from the book of Romans, it begged for some feeling.  So I sought the help of another family member - my grandfather, Roy Sims.

Big Daddy died in 1965, at the age of 53, two years before I was born.  So how did he help me?  Well, Big Daddy was one of the Sunday School teachers of the Men's Bible Class at Vidalia Baptist Church.  He wasn't an educated man by his own admission, but he was blessed with wisdom.  He would hand write his lesson based on the curriculum while on the road as a salesman and then my mother would type it for him when he was home.  While I was cleaning out my dad's house a few weeks ago, I found the notebook full of his lessons.  There were handwritten notes, a father's day card from my aunt and her family, and newspaper clippings.  I got to see his handwriting, not much different from my own,  and read his own words.  This man, who I resemble, since I inherited his ears and his green eyes, I had never known.  But, somehow, I have always known him.

I remember, as a child, standing in my grandmother's living room, staring at his portrait.  He seemed so old to me then.  I wondered what it would have been like to know him, to have a grandfather, to hear his stories, to feel his touch.  I'm a little bit of a day dreamer...

Today, I decided to pick up that book to see if he had any wisdom to share.  I almost read every word.  There were stories of his faith.  Stories about the faith of my great-grandmother and her love for Christ. Stories of people he loved.  His thoughts about the civil rights movement - ya'll - he LOVED EVERYONE and hated violence. He was a peacemaker.

He was so passionate about Jesus Christ.  Tell everyone - tell everyone before it's too late for them.  Jesus loves everyone. I read his words with tear-filled eyes, getting to know Big Daddy.  If he had been an educated man, I know he would have been a preacher.  What a heritage he gave to us.

I also learned that the radio station in Vidalia used to broadcast the lessons from the class (not just his) so the people at the nursing home could have a Bible lesson.

I would like to close with Big Daddy's own words, written in 1965:
"I am not an educated man, but I love my Lord, who saved my soul. I thank Him that I have been spared (he had previously had a heart attack) to testify for Him.  I have been on the road over 20 years.  I have many friends who are Jewish, Japanese, Chinese, and Negro.  And if I am to be the Christian He would have me be, I will be understanding.  I will love them. Everyone of every race are children of God."

I am proud to be the granddaughter of Roy Manry Sims and to be able to learn from him fifty-two years after his death. I am a teacher and I teach students from many nations (even at a small Christian school) and I will love them.  Everyone of every race.  My grandfather set an example that I am going to follow.