I have a rare heritage.
In a society where at least 1/2 of marriages end in divorce and fathers are no where to be found, I come from a long line of godly men (& women).
My great-great-grandfather on my dad’s side (Granddaddy Burns) was just a regular guy. He wasn’t a pastor or a missionary or a seminary graduate. But he loved Jesus and he felt compelled that he should pray for his family down to the 6th generation. I’m not exactly sure why he chose the 6th generation or what those prayers sounded like, but those prayers included me, my kids, and my grandkids. Who does that?!
One of his daughters married a man by the last name Bynum. My great-grandfather (Granddaddy Bynum) studied law and was making a fine living as a lawyer. He was actually about to be appointed as the youngest judge in the history of the state of Alabama when he felt God’s call on his life to preach. So he left his career to begin a new one as a Methodist pastor.
Great-granddaddy Bynum, now grafted into the Burn family prayers and legacy, had five children. One of them was a daughter name Corinne. The blessings and prayers and mercy that Granddaddy Burns had faithfully stored up were being passed down to her. Granddaddy Burns could have never foreseen than Corinne’s husband would not be blessed with the same heritage from which she came. Corinne’s husband, Steve, came from a fatherless home. He had to drop out of school in the 4th grade to help provide for his family when his father left them for another woman. But it seems, in the providence of God, that Granddaddy Burns’ prayers covered Steve too.
Steve (my Granddaddy Cloud) taught himself to read, put himself through Bible College during the Great Depression, and met a beautiful young lady named Corinne who became his partner in life and ministry. Together they served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and South Carolina. Steve preached while Corinne prayed and took baked goods to every family on their street and loved people with the love of Jesus. Never did a plumber or delivery man or hospice nurse come into their home that my grandparents didn’t share with them about the love of Jesus.
Steve & Corinne had a son, who they also named Steve. Steve was born with a fiercely independent and adventurous personality. Growing through his teenage years, Steve was determined that he would be a big, bad sinner despite the countless hours his parents spent on their knees on his behalf. But what Steve didn’t realize at the time is that he had a great grandfather that had also been praying for him, and God doesn’t forget things like that. Try as he may, Steve would always be a “failure” at running from God. The sin would leave him with such emptiness that he finally reached out for God. He couldn’t escape the mercy that was stored up on his behalf.
When Steve (my dad) gave his life to Jesus at the age of 18, he jumped in with both feet. He became a youth pastor and then a senior pastor and has served God everyday of his life since he was 18 years old. Granddaddy Burns’ prayers that God would raise up preachers to the 6th generation were now being fulfilled to the 3rd generation.
I am apart of the 4th generation.
My husband has been grafted in to the prayers of blessing that Granddaddy Burns prayed on our behalf.
South Bay Church is here today, in part, because of the prayers of Granddaddy Burns. He played a role in the 297 salvations that we’ve seen at South Bay thus far. Those 297 people will be in heaven one day and I think that perhaps they will each receive a handshake from Granddaddy Burns, who prayed for their pastor and his wife.
I cannot tell you the comfort it brings me to know that my children and grandchildren are apart of this legacy as well. While I can’t claim with 100% assurance that none of them will be wayward or turn their backs on God, I am confident that God won’t allow them to go down that path without throwing every roadblock in their way. They’ve been marked. They’ve got mercy stored up for them. And they will be absolutely miserable living a life of spiritual poverty when they’ve got so much blessing available to them.
One man who loved Jesus and was committed to prayer shaped the lineage of his family. On this Father’s Day, I think it’s quite appropriate to honor a man like that.