By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
I imagine he shared the story of how Jesus took the sins of mankind on His shoulders and died a horrific death on the cross and arose three days later on what is now known as Easter Sunday. Why? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV).
Bro. Palmer, who also is a deputy for the Loudon County Sheriff’s Department, preached that love on Sunday, April 4. He experienced it firsthand on Monday, April 5.
Other than death and unexpected illnesses such as cancer, probably one of the most devastating tragedies any person or family could experience would be the loss of a home due to fire or any natural disaster.
Palmer and his family, which includes wife, Christina, and sons, Colten and Kevin, watched everything they own go up in smoke on that Monday afternoon at their home in Lenoir City. Thankfully, Christina and Colten, who were in the house, got out safely.
Palmer acknowledges that while he was standing there, he could not help but wonder, “What do we do now?”
Yet, Palmer had something to rely on that, unfortunately, more than half of the residents of Tennessee do not have — faith in a God who can move mountains and a God who will reach down and carry His children through the dark and difficult times they sometimes face.
In Palmer’s own words, “God showed up.”
He showed up in the form of pastors and ministers from the community, church members from South Holston and other churches of all denominations, and in the form of people throughout the area. He showed up in the form of people Palmer did not even know, but who were showing the love of Jesus to a man and his family at a time they needed it the most.
It is a lesson that was not lost on the Palmer family and especially Bro. Kenny. One of the things he told me that I will never forget is this: “I can only hope that when tragedy strikes someone else, I will be the first in line to show God’s love to them.” Wow, what a testimony.
As Christians, we all have good intentions, but sometimes we wait to be asked. Instead, we should just respond as the Holy Spirit leads us. There are a lot of hurting people in our world today who need us to be ready to respond in time of need. The Palmers already knew God on an intimate basis, but all of us know people who are lost and don’t know that God loves them. We need to be the vessels that God uses to show His love to a lost and dying world.
In a guest column on page 15, Steve Pearson, evangelism specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, writes that an estimated 38,000 people in Tennessee die without knowing Christ on a yearly basis, or on a daily basis, it breaks down to 105 people who will die and spend eternity in hell.
That should make us weep, but it should also inspire us to do our part to make a difference, whether it is engaging in a conversation with a nonbeliever or being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ like those people who ministered to the Palmer family when tragedy struck their household.
May we all want to live like Bro. Kenny when we see a need. We won’t have to fight over who is first in line when tragedy strikes. There will be plenty of people who need to see God’s love in action. Just be ready and willing when needed. B&R