Thursday, September 4, 2008

Good And Faithful Servants - Gospel Messengers

1 Peter 1:3-12

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time...

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look."

I am thankful for godly messengers of the Good News. They do not serve themselves. They serve God and the ones to whom they speak. Godly messengers are those who preach the Good News by the Holy Spirit. If Christ is your Lord and Savior it is, in part, because of godly messengers of the Gospel who have been faithful in presenting the Word. Acts 26:17-18 records the Lord's words to Paul; but I believe they apply to all godly messengers:

"...I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me."

I am thankful that God calls and sends His messengers. It made an eternal difference to me that Sunday morning in August 1946 at First Baptist Church of Velasco Texas, when God used one of His messengers, J. R. Graves Darby, "to open my eyes so that I might turn from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God to receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ." My memory of that day and the part Bro. Darby had is limited to just a few moments. I wish I could remember more about that day. I wish I knew more about the man, Graves Darby. I have recently learned some things. I contacted the Conference of Texas Baptist Evangelist and received a reply from Bill Sky-Eagle, another faithful messenger of God. I first met him in the summer of 1970. He was part of a youth evangelism team at the time. I appreciate him taking time to do some research on Graves Darby and giving me permission to share that information. He describe his research with these words. "I was happy to do the research and have enjoyed learning about this man of God who was one of our faithful predecessors in vocational evangelism." I also have enjoyed learning about Graves Darby.

"J. R. Graves Darby, a blind Texas Baptist minster and evangelist, was born in Florence, Williamson County, Texas on November 29, 1890. He was the seventh of eight children born to John Oscar Darby and Emma Lee Gilliland. His younger brother, Ozelle Bennett Darby, was also blind. In 1910 the two brothers were students at the Texas State School for the Blind in Austin, Texas.

Graves Darby was a ministerial student at Baylor University in 1912. He was employed at Baylor at the time he registered for the draft. While living in Calvert, Robertson County, Texas, he was described as being tall, of medium build, with brown eyes and brown (balding) hair.

He and his wife, Alice L. Darby were married about 1917. In 1920 he and his wife lived in Madisonville, Texas where he was a Baptist minister. His wife was employed as a high school teacher. By 1930, they had moved to Cross Plains, Callahan County, Texas, where he was pastor of a Baptist church. Sometime before 1938, he and his wife moved to Waco, Texas, where they resided for the remainder of their lives.

An effective evangelist, Graves Darby conducted numerous revivals throughout Texas. As early as 1917-1918, he preached a revival at Henry Prairie Missionary Baptist Church in Robertson County, Texas. Between 1943-1946, he conducted other revivals that resulted in a number of baptisms. One of those revivals was at First Baptist Church of Conroe, Texas. The Amarillo Daily News for Saturday, October 26, 1940, carried this article, 'Blind Evangelist Begins Gospel Series at Local Church Sunday. A series of revival services, to run two weeks, through November 10, will begin Sunday morning at the San Jacinto Baptist Church, at Fifth and Caroline. Rev. Graves Darby, noted blind evangelist will do the preaching and Hooper Dilday will lead the music. This will be Rev. Darby's first meeting with that church. Mr. Dilday, who is educational director for First Baptist Church, Port Arthur, Texas, was reared in Amarillo.'

Bro. Darby's evangelistic ministry was especially effective in Galveston, Texas. The Galveston Daily News for Monday, October 10, 1938, mentioned, 'Rev. Graves Darby of Waco [will speak] at Broadway Baptist Church...' The Daily News for Saturday, December 12, 1942, says, 'Revival services at the Texas City Heights Baptist Church will continue tomorrow and through next week, conducted by Rev. Graves Darby of Waco, Texas.' The Daily News for Saturday, October 19, 1946, reported that he was again preaching in the city. The El Paso Herald-Post for Saturday, September 23, 1950, reported 'Rev. Graves Darby, evangelist of Waco and Harry Brooks of El Paso are leading the Immanuel Baptist Church [in revival].'

After many years of faithfully preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ, J. R. Graves Darby went to be with the Lord on February 4, 1962 in Waco, McLennan, Texas. Alice Darby followed him in death on December 30, 1977."

This is just a small record of Bro. Darby' ministry and life. During his years of ministry, it does not appear that he held back in his commitment to God. Graves Darby faithfully shared the Good News. Through Bro. Darby's preaching God open the eyes of many. Thank you Bro. Darby and all the countless faithful, godly messengers of the Good News. May we all be as faithful.

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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