I’ve had a great time blogging about my mentors recently; it’s been therapeutic recalling and dwelling on the memories and the lessons they taught me. That will certainly be the case today as I remember yet another person that I label a mentor, Royce Williams.
Surely I could write a volume on this man and it wouldn’t come close to describing the impact he’s had in my life; but I have neither the patience nor the time to write a volume, and people wouldn’t read it anyway, so a prolonged blog will have to suffice.
I met Royce after I started dating Ramona, now my wife, for those who don’t know. At the time Ramona was a member of Southside Baptist Church in Wilmington for many years and Royce was her “Youth Minister”. I had only attended Independent Baptist Churches my entire life and was pretty uncomfortable with the thought of even visiting another denomination; but a pretty blonde was tremendous inspiration to try something new!
The moment I arrived Royce Williams made a point to befriend me. I wasn’t the most outgoing guy to say the least, and being older than most in Ramona’s Youth group I was not looking forward to silliness that is some youth programs. Royce seemed to sense immediately what I was thinking and knew exactly what to say to make me feel at home. His humor kept me in stiches constantly, even though “I kicked the slats out of my cradle the first time I heard those jokes”. But it wasn’t his great personality, his humor, or even his singing (and man can he sing!) that made the greatest impact on me.
The thing that impacted me most about Royce Williams was how he lived his life. It was obvious to me after getting to know him that he loved God and God’s Word, and that was the driving force in his life. I watched as he steered the young people at Southside Baptist Church toward Jesus, not only through his intense Bible studies, but through the music that he sang and led them in, the compassion that he showed to people, and most of all his desire to glorify God in his life, even in difficult situations; and at times that can be the most testing time to glorify God.
Royce packed up his family and moved far away to study at Mid America Theological Seminary. It was in the midst of his studies there that he would face an even larger crisis, one that no one, especially one in the “Ministry” ever desires to experience; yet Royce trusted God through it all.
What the trial was is not as important as how he handled it. Initially, as we all would be, Royce was stunned by this turn of events. To make a very long story as short as possible, Royce trusted God, sought guidance from godly men, and continued his theological education back in NC. He has since pastored and spent many years in vocational Evangelism. Through it all it was clear to me that Royce sought his strength from God and strived to glorify Him through those grim times. During this, I watched intently and learned a tremendous amount that would help me when I faced major challenges.
I must back up a few years…When Royce was a pastor in Roper, NC; he was the first to ask me to preach at his church. I will never forget that moment…I remember it in great detail, where I was standing, which phone I was talking on (it was a wall phone with an extremely long cord…gave me the ability to pace), and how nervous I got when he asked me. It completely overwhelmed me that someone would entrust me with their sheep that they were responsible for…truly an amazing thought to me. I preached many, many times at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Roper thereafter. The things I learned from Royce and his church during that period were and are invaluable to me and I am indebted.