Most of you know Brother Rick Whitehead who served sacrificially at Bethel Baptist Church in a variety of ways: counseling, leading Sunday praise, directing the choir, and leading the Celebrate Recovery ministry. He counseled for Truth In Love Ministries and was faithful to God’s Word.
What you might not know is that Brother Rick taught my son, Mark Jr., how to play guitar. He took time out of his busy week to disciple young men like my son without any compensation and any fanfare. To me, that’s what characterized Brother Rick the most: an incredibly gifted, multi-talented behind-the-scenes servant wh0 was a giver much like Jesus, Who gave so much that He gave His life for those who trust in Him alone for salvation.
We interviewed my son, Mark Jr. and asked him how Brother Rick not only made an impact on his life but how that impact is continuing to make impacts through disciple-making and reaching others with the hope of the Gospel! Read below to see Mark Jr.’s responses as well as a poem he wrote on the day Brother Rick went to be with Jesus forever:
When did you first meet Brother Rick?
Mark Jr.: I met him at Bethel Baptist Church on a Sunday night. He was hosting a free guitar lesson night, and that’s where I met him first. After that, he became my mentor and personal guitar instructor for the next six months.
How has Brother Rick impacted you personally?
Mark Jr.: Brother Rick challenged my guitar playing — my all around musician-ship for sure — and especially my walk with Christ. In many ways, he has helped to make me the man that I am today. Brother Rick not only spoke into my life drastically, but also into countless others. His impact and what he was about goes on despite his passing.
How often did you get to play on the worship team with Brother Rick?
Mark Jr.: I served on the worship team at our weekly Thursday night Bible studies at The Brook Besor as well as Celebrate Recovery meetings on Friday nights. We also just jammed out some times during the week whenever his schedule was open. He was always up for music and building friendships.
Mark Jr. encourages everyone to read his poem, which is below:
“Written today in memory of the life of the single-most influential person in mine. Rick Whitehead passed away last night, April 28th, 2015, but he has won.
You have won.
There is a bitter silence
From a dying life
But you didn’t die
You lived to make others’ lives.
Your wave of impact
Didn’t crash upon the shore
Though the lid will seal your mouth
Your ripples will flow more.
You’re not just the tear in my eye
Six years, the years I watched you
Like a sunset decline
To shine on below this horizon.
You built with your life
The life perfect blueprints are still giving
Spirit of truth kept for this day
A leukemia-free body to be forever living
From our Creator who saves.
You believed in me
More than anyone else
You gave me so many months
Hours of time
Now I’ll give years making Christ followers
Like you did for me in 2009.
The last evening of April 28th
With your last lung
Your death sung
My Chains Are Gone, and
In Loving Memory
Please pray for his wife, Pam, and family as well. We at Truth In Love are grieving a dear Brother in Christ and beloved biblical counselor yet we do not grieve as those without a sure hope.
I Thessalonians 5:13-18 says it best:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
-Mark and Rachel Shaw (celebrating a life well lived by our dear Brother Rick!)