Pastor Claude Williams was wrong.
He was a loving husband, caring father, faithful pastor, and my friend, but he was very wrong.
Many years ago, before Hurricane Katrina, before Pastor Claude became Pastor Claude, we were in life group together. One night, our group gathered around a picnic table outside a local hamburger restaurant. Claudes sons, yet to be born, were mere dreams, but his love for Twila was quite real. At the time, she was serving in children’s ministry and Claude had accompanied her on several children’s ministry projects. I had seen him enjoying himself as he interacted with the kids, and I mentioned to him at the outing that he seemed to be good with kids. Claude had always been very precise and eloquent with his speech, so his humorous response took me by surprise.
He said, “I don’t know nothing about no children.”
But Claude Williams was wrong.
When I shared the news of his passing with a friend and co-worker, she said, “I ran out of gas in the middle of the road three months ago. It was Claude who showed up and pushed my car out of the street and then on to the gas station.”
Pastor Claude was always giving of himself to others, but as I think back on his response to me 15 years ago, I realize that he was still wrong.
I watched him love his wife, raise three sons, give himself to children’s ministry, youth ministry, and then care for and lead a congregation filled with the children of God.
But he was wrong. You see, Claude knew all he needed to know about children, both young and old.
If he were here today, if he could read these words and hear me speak to him, I’d congratulate him on being a great man, thank him for being my friend, remind him of our conversation, and tell him how wrong he was.