I am more moved by the death of Jerry than I would have expected. I didn't actually know him. I was just one of many "Jerry's Kids" to him. I was just another young "Champion for Christ".
But he had a bigger impact on me than I have really realized. I guess I have taken it for granted. We tend to do that. Until someone dies, then we think of all the ways they have influenced us.
I had my picture taken with him a couple times. Once for a Nursing Ceremony. And again at graduation, although, all you can see of me is my bushy 1991 style hair-do. And the tip of my nose.
That's the extent of our relationship.
Unless you include the time I wrote him a letter. I was desperate. My two year scholarship had run out and I was going to have to quit school. So I sent him a letter, telling him how much I wanted to stay. He provided a Chancellor's Scholarship for me for the rest of my education. It didn't cover everything, but it was enough to let me stay -- another four years, even.
Anyone who attended Liberty knows the story of how he used to drive from Virginia to Missouri to visit his beloved Macel before they were married. That was before there were speed limits, he would point out with a grin.
We also knew that he started his ministry while in college with a Sunday school class of two or three sixth grade boys.
The church he founded had it's first home in the Donald Duck Bottling Company.
The first time he saw the word Tithe on a banner at church he sorely mispronounced it and had no idea what it meant. Believe me, he figured it out. :)
Jerry was a good one for raising funds. As an alumni, I know. I am constantly receiving opportunities to contribute to something or the other there. But understand this... the money he raised has raised up men and women for God. I don't know that I agree with how every single dollar has been spent. But I do know that he puts the money where he says he will. If it's for a Library, it goes to the Library. The same is true for a football field or a dorm. He cannot be compared to other "Evangelists" who line their pockets with the donations of their viewers. I am fully confident of that.
The years I spent at Liberty made me who I am. I cannot even begin to list the things I learned there. I wanted more than anything to influence my world for Christ. It's still what I want. He taught me that. He also taught me "The measure of a man's success is not determined by what he accomplishes, but by what it takes to make him quit." I don't know how many times over the years I heard him say that. But it's a powerful truth. And Jerry lived it. He didn't quit. He kept doing what he was called to do until God told him it was time to come home.
I call that success.