June 21, 2006

This Common Man

1518 page22 capugh was born in a small town in South Carolina in 1918. Except for the time he spent in Europe serving his country during World War II, he never traveled far from his place of birth. He was raised in a strong Baptist family, and he was a positive witness to his Army comrades and local community friends by his healthy habits and mild temperament. At 82 he could still recall the many times God protected him during the war, often by inches, and brought him safely home in answer to the prayers of his parents.

Family Matters

After the war Hugh married Mary, a Seventh-day Adventist. One of Hugh’s sisters practically disowned him for this and went to her grave prejudiced against his wife and her religion. Nevertheless, Hugh and Mary remained loving Christians. Their faithfulness to God won the respect of Hugh’s oldest sister, so much so that she went to her grave closer than a sister to Mary, with a high regard for the Adventist faith.

1518 page22One day the Lord impressed Hugh to join his wife and children, who were attending an Adventist tent revival in their town. Everyone was stunned when Hugh walked down the center aisle during the altar call and became a Seventh-day Adventist. After years of Mary’s prayerful perseverance and the prompting of the Holy Spirit Hugh stepped forward in faith in opposition to his family’s traditional beliefs and his boss’s demands that he work on Saturday.
Hugh’s faithfulness eventually won him a closer friendship with his boss and greater respect for his beliefs. Until his retirement from that company, Hugh was granted every Sabbath off. Living an uncompromising life before God, family, and community, he showed the world by his example the lasting importance of God’s biblical Sabbath and the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

A Man of the People

Hugh had a way of making friends regardless of their religious affiliation or social status. He was loved and respected by all who knew him.

One day the local police chief called Hugh to come by the station and pick something up. When Hugh arrived, he discovered an identification bracelet, given to him by his mother many years before, that he had lost in Germany during the war.
During the excavation for a service station in Luxembourg, Hugh’s bracelet was found on the arm of a skeleton, believed to be a German soldier who found the bracelet, was killed in action, and was buried with Hugh’s identity.
A woman who lived near the excavation site wanted the man’s family to know that what were thought to be Hugh’s remains had been found. So she sent the bracelet to the authorities in Hugh’s hometown. You can imagine the thrill she received to learn that Hugh was still alive and well. The communication established between them gave Hugh another opportunity to witness for the Lord.
One day Hugh stopped to aid a stranded motorist who happened to be a United Way employee. The man needed someone to drive a van for the Council on Aging. Hugh’s act to help someone else turned out to be an opportunity to serve his community for the next 17 years. Many times he was publicly recognized for his service to others.
Faithful to the End
Not long after retiring “for good,” Hugh was involved in a serious auto accident. During those traumatic hours God gave him strength and endurance as he awaited rescue from his overturned vehicle. God heard Hugh’s prayers and the prayers of his wife, Mary, and granted them both a brief and final goodbye during his transfer between hospitals. News of his death shocked and saddened the community, and nearly 100 people came to pay their respects at his military funeral.

Questions for Reflection

1. Who, in your congregation, is an unsung model of Christian faith and practice? List at least five males and five females?

2. How has your life been changed by the influence of a humble, behind-the-scenes disciple?

3. What is the greatest difference your relationship with Christ has produced in your life? 

How is the life of a devout Christian different from the life of a devout Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, or other?

Six months later Mary heard the final chapter in her husband’s life book of witnessing. While she was visiting the local hospital laboratory for routine blood tests, a young phlebotomist noticed Mary’s last name and asked if she knew Hugh Alexander. Mary said, “Yes, he was my husband.”

With tears in her eyes, the phlebotomist recounted arriving on the scene shortly after Hugh’s accident, and how she felt impressed to stop and help in any way she could. She could tell that Hugh’s neck was broken, and he was bleeding badly from contact with broken glass. She could do nothing until rescue help arrived but lie down in the gravel beside him, hold his head, wipe the blood from his face, and speak words of comfort to him.
She told Mary that she was impressed to sing “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know,” as she waited for help to arrive. She said that she noticed a bumper sticker on his old pickup that read, “I belong to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
“I knew immediately that he was a good man,” the woman said. She was God’s angel of mercy sent to comfort one of His own. When words are few, our silent witness can still be heard.
Hugh and Mary are my parents, and I’m proud to be called their son. Their godly example is an inspiration to me. We should all likewise be proud to be called the sons and daughters of God, unashamed to live out His plan for our life, unashamed of the gospel message and willing to let His light shine through us, so that He alone can be glorified.
Daryll Lee Alexander writes from Fort Worth, Texas