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Tribute To My Big Brother

by Buford Smith

My Older Brother, Alford Smith, Jr., “A. J.”

After almost 87 years, A. J. is home.  I can only imagine the scene as A. J. was greeted by our parents and sister.  Eternity.  Our dream destination.  Our  longing.  The thought excites beyond comprehension, (I Corinthians 2:6-10).   What will eternity be like?

  1. J.’s story began with the solid Christian foundation our parents gave us. They believed in the God of the Bible and tried to obey His commands; that meant regular attendance at church services.  Our parents “talked church” to each other and to us.  Their lives revolved around church.  Their work week was ordered by church attendance.  Decisions made were prefaced with, “Lord willing” (James 4:13-15).  If within earshot of Mom, we observed, “The sun is trying to shine or It’s trying to rain” we were immediately corrected with, “If God wants it to rain or the sun to shine, it will happen.”  Their simple faith did not stumble over discussions about the how or when of creation, and of the Lord’s return for His Church.  They believed.  They trusted.  They lived their faith.

In that home environment A, J. was always my older brother; always the dreamer and always a mite bossy.  Reflecting on his completed life gave me a greater appreciation of him. He had a good grasp of Christian principles.  He was honest and forthright with everyone, insisting on obedience to the Bible.

In high school days, A. J. would wait at the end of the cafeteria line for friends and relatives who had missed church.  He reminded them to attend church.  One of those boys became a preacher.  Years later recounting his high school experience he thanked A.J. for not letting up, saying A. J. “forced him to attend church.”

  1. J. served his country his way. He registered with the draft board as a   Conscientious Objector.  When drafted he was trained as a Medic.  To everyone’s surprise he was sent to Korea, where he served 14 months, collecting three bronze stars, [three battle zones].  He was opposed to killing but was glad to help save lives.  His example led me to want to serve as a medic.                    The Lord had not called him to a specific location so A.J. assumed that the world was his mission field.  He would speak to anyone anywhere about anything with the conversation turning to church and the eternal values of knowing God and being ready for His coming.

Several years ago, a young man told me of meeting A. J. at a restaurant in Terre Haute, Indiana. A.J. began a conversation and upon learning that the man knew me, A.J. promptly began talking about church work.  The younger man seemed amused and somewhat surprised as he recounted how A.J. began by telling him that God had set up their meeting that day so that A.J. could encourage him.      I was not surprised by A.J.’s approach.  Mission work was never far from his mind.  Ever since our teenage years my big brother dreamed of doing mission work.  Wherever he worshipped he pushed the congregation to do mission work.  He attended “men’s meetings” sharing his opinion at every opportunity.  Some ignored him and others laughed but A.J. was not embarrassed.  He was always ready for the next men’s meeting.

A few years ago, our younger brother, Tooger, invited A.J. and me to drive to Louisiana with him to buy cray fish.  While we toured places where we had lived, A.J. kept a running account, pointing out places and telling who lived where and usually some incident from that time.  We learned some interesting family history that day.  And we learned that our older brother had a good memory.

Any regrets? Only one; That his body died before I began to grasp his value in the kingdom of our God.  Reflecting on his life blessed my spirit. Will I miss him?  Sure.  But he has the best part.  His race is over.  His work is done.  He used the talents God gave him.  In his particular way he served our Lord.  Now he is home.

A.J. believed the apostle, “To depart and be with the Lord is very far better.”  I’m excited.  What rewards will A. J. receive, (I Corinthians 3:10-15)?  He wasn’t an Olympian, or an inventor, or a famed theologian.  He was a simple Christian striving to live for his Lord. His faith never wavered.  I never heard him worry about having done enough to be saved.  He understood that salvation came through the blood of Jesus and that satisfied. I Praise God for A. J.’s example of faith.

Middle Brother, Buford

After 49 years and 10 months of full-time ministry, Buford Smith retired from Shiloh Church of Christ in 2011.

Since then he preaches for various churches when their minister is away.

 




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I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13