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October 10, 2012 / Pastor George Fike

The Power of a Legacy, Part Two


Pt. 2

Fike Memorial StoneIt is difficult for me to think of my father, Bobbie Ray Fike,  without recalling the dull odor of chlorine in my nostrils and the rough, cold touch of a steel tub beneath my feet.  Some of the finest hours of our father/son togetherness were spent in an empty church baptistry; for in that special tank, my father taught me lasting lessons in servanthood.

One of my earliest memories is that of holding my father’s calloused, work-ravaged hands during church.  For me those hands have always visually represented the kind of man my father was: gentle enough to allow a squirmy preschooler to play with his fingers for an hour, yet tough enough to roll up his sleeves to do whatever work needed to be done.

I shared this man with my mother and five brothers and sisters.  If there were not enough of him to go around, I wouldn’t have known it.  Daddy made himself exclusively mine on many occasions.  Despite his workload and our active church schedule, he took time to teach me such things as riding a bike,  playing basketball, and playing the guitar.  My father demonstrated his special love for me with an economy of words.  I knew he did not play favorites among his six children: no doubt each of my siblings experienced the same focused attention that I did.  How amazing that one man could father and develop six children, fine-tuning each of us with our own distinctive temperaments and skills!

Daddy had served as chairman of the deacons several times over the past many years in the two churches our family had attended.  He was a model of consistency for his church as well as for his family.  I can recall many a tempestuous church business meeting which settled into peace through his timely intervention – his thoughtful and gentle words, though sparse.  Each church workday found him with a paintbrush or hammer in hand.  An empty offering envelope was foreign to him.  Whenever he was called upon to pray in the worship service, my heart would stir within me as I thought: “That’s my daddy!”

If I had it to do over again, I would not have shrugged and pulled the covers tightly when he nudged me to see if I wanted to go to the men’s breakfast at church when I was a teenager.  As they say, “Youth is wasted on the young.”  I wonder what I could have learned had I appreciated the opportunities he offered me (and I turned down) during my lazy days of adolescence.

One opportunity I did take him up on was helping to ready the baptistry at Kirby Baptist Church for baptisms.  At one time or another I think all four of us Fike boys helped scrub the tub at one time or another, but by the time I was in high school I became my dad’s main assistant.  In fact, from that time on when the church elected committees, the baptism committee consisted of “the deacons and George Fike.”

We would dress in our worst jeans and t-shirts and drive up to the church on Saturday around 9 pm.  My dad would enter the baptistry first and kill any scorpions unfortunate enough to have tried to make their home there.  Then with buckets of bleach water and scraps of cloth we would get down on our knees and start scrub bing away the dirt and rust, each of us starting at one end until slowly we met in the middle.  Daddy would run enough water for us to rinse away any remaining bleach, and then my part was done.  I would lie on the carpet of the stage and listen as my dad began filling the baptistry with water.  I loved the soothing sound of running water.  It felt good to provide this behind-the-scenes service.  It was an act that would never be recognized; the significance of what we had done would be the baptisms that took place the next morning, never to be forgotten by the new believers.

When I came to serve on staff at Bandera Road Community Church in San Antonio, one of my first responsibilities was to oversee the baptisms in our new outdoor baptistry.  My dad had passed away just a few months prior.  I remember stepping into the pool for the first time and looking up at the sky, thinking to myself, “Everything significant in my ministry I learned in that baptistry with you, Daddy!  Thank you!”

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5 Comments

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  1. Pablo Jackson / Oct 10 2012 4:59 PM

    George, powerful and tender heartfelt words, my brother!

  2. Lori Curd / Oct 10 2012 5:15 PM

    If only I could have known him myself. What a legacy he left behind. We all hope that we could influence our children as he did . For many generations to come he has set the foundation for his family to walk with our Lord and set an example of servanthood. I’m so glad to hear a son praise his father as you have!

  3. Melanie Palumbo / Oct 10 2012 8:22 PM

    Once again, I am blessed through your sharing. His is a legacy that I see is being passed on through you.

  4. Aleece Root / Oct 10 2012 10:09 PM

    Like father, like son!!!

  5. malcolm cook / Oct 11 2012 5:53 AM

    Wow! Amazing story about you and your father! Thank you for sharing, God obviously knew needed to read a story like this.

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