I got a text Sunday morning from a friend of mine in Texas telling me that a man I knew in the town we lived in for many years had been killed. His name was Brian Jennings, but everyone called him BJ. He was 41, a youth pastor, with a wife and three children.
Late Saturday night, he was driving near his home when he came upon a person whose car was broken down in the road—a two-lane with no shoulder, ditches on each side. As he was helping the driver, along with two other people from a nearby home who had come out, a pickup full of high school teens, reportedly drinking and driving too fast, plowed into them all. The impact killed all four people standing beside the car.
Many years ago, when my wife and I first moved into that small Texas town and joined a church, we started hearing about “this kid” who was always there when the doors were open, but was constantly getting into some kind of mischief. BJ was “that kid.”
But as with so many of us headed down the wrong road, Jesus entered the picture and BJ’s life made a radical change. He ended up becoming a youth pastor, having a heart for “those kids” just like he was, in this same town where he grew up.
Today, BJ was well respected in the community among Christians and non-Christians. And no one—no one—was surprised to hear he had stopped to help a stranger. And, ironically, one of “those kids” caused his entry into Heaven. The very kids he lived to help and to see come to know the Jesus he himself had met.
Several years ago, BJ came to me to help him improve in a particular area—just a life skill that he wanted to get better at and felt I could help him. After a few months and major strides forward, he stopped by my office to thank me for my help and to share all that God had done for he and his family in this area. I thought to myself then, and I was reminded Sunday morning, who does that anymore? Who stops to graciously thank someone for their help and to report how God had moved in his life? Who stops to help someone in a potentially dangerous circumstance? Well, BJ did. That was the kind of man that Jesus had made Him; the kind of man who would humbly thank someone; the kind of man who would stop at midnight to assist a stranger; the kind of man who wanted to see every kid in his sight find what he had found in his teens—the God Who changes everything.
Saturday night, the world lost a good man; a warrior for Christ passed from the battleground to the palace; a pastor who loved every sheep God placed in his care entered the presence of The Good Shepherd. Whether 41 or 81, that’s quite a legacy. And, you know, in light of Scripture and I’m sure BJ would agree, we’re all one of “those kids” until we choose to become one of His kids.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. —Psalm 23:6 NLT