Our friend and brother Poray Casimer’s funeral was this past Friday. Haille Martin gave the eulogy, which he titled, “Somebody is Watching.” It was very heartwarming and certainly, the idea that “Somebody is Watching” our lives have important implications for living out our faith in public. The reader may not know these men, but Poray is an example of a life well lived in devotion to the Lord, and Haille is fruit of that life. As we listened to Haille, I was reminded of a portion of the last words the Apostle Paul penned around 66 A.D. to his son in the faith, young Timothy:
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:1-2)
Timothy was somebody who was watching and listening closely to the Apostle Paul. What Timothy noted was not simply Paul’s spoken and written words, or even how Paul lived out his private life, but also how Paul lived his faith in public. Timothy was to take what he had learned by observation and close association and imitate these things in his own life, and then to turn around and pass on Paul’s authentic way to others. Likewise, these “others” would watch and imitate Timothy, and teach others to do the same. This is the true nature of discipleship. Of course, knowing the word of God and passing on the gospel is essential, but our actions alone may very well attract others to listen to our words.
In Haille Martin’s eulogy, he told the story of how he came to meet Poray and eventually the Lord. We ourselves can testify that Poray was a very godly man. His passion for the Lord and the lost people around him, and his compassionate caring for the needs of others was a certification of the truthfulness of the gospel.
Haille was working in a boat yard in Louisiana when he first met Poray. Every day at lunchtime, while Poray and the other men were eating, Poray would talk with them about the Lord and His word. Being rough men doing a rough job, they gave him plenty of guff for his faith, but he seemed unbothered by that. Haille was nearby in a boat, and was not directly involved in their conversations, but he was watching. Poray was only on that job a few weeks, but what Haille had seen in Poray stuck with him and weighed on him. After about 2 years, it dawned on him that the gospel was true, and he tried to reach Poray but was unable to get in touch at that time. He did all he knew to do and cried out to the Lord for salvation. He and Poray made contact sometime after that and they remained close ever since. Poray was a gentle man, soft-spoken and kind, but persistent in his witness. Person after person at the funeral shared their “Poray story” and even though the circumstances and needs of the people varied, the common theme was that they watched his life and noted the personal interest he took in each one of them. His gentle ministry indeed changed many lives.
Some Christians do not think much of how other people see them, outside of the friends and family they have in church. As believers, we are often not aware of how non-believers see us, or whether anything we say or do really matters, but from time to time we find out. Some years ago, I (Don) was a superintendent with a construction company. The owner of the company was Jewish but agnostic. Knowing I was a believer, once or twice a week he would toss out an objection to the Christian faith, the existence of God or some other issue, and the game was on. We rather enjoyed these friendly debates and making our respective cases – and then we’d head home for the day. The office secretary, Robin, was less than friendly to me, but was professional if not warm, and I assumed she had other life problems weighing on her. After a couple of years, she met and married a Navy man and moved to Florida, and by and by I left the company and started my own business. One day I got a phone call from Robin out of the blue asking if we could meet – it was very important, she said, and only I would understand. Joy and I agreed that I should indeed meet her. Robin was positively glowing. She was divorced, which was sad, but she had a young son she loved and that was good – but did not explain the fullness of her joy. She went on to tell me how she had watched me when we worked together. She said after the office “debates” she would ask herself, “What if he is right?” She said she was testy with me to get me angry with her, but it did not work out as she had hoped. The gospel kept playing on her mind and heart. While living in Florida, she began attending a church and heard the same things she had heard from me. She became a Christian. When she returned to Illinois, she said she had to tell me that she embraced the faith because she had been watching me.
Joy has similar stories as do countless others. There is something truly remarkable about how God can and will use any of us, utterly unbeknownst to us and often – OK, always – despite our own human flaws. Living the life of faith includes living a life that is observed by others. Somebody is watching. My pastor and I have talked about discipleship and the church from time to time. I explained that it is my conviction we are all discipling – modeling our faith before someone – whether we are aware of it or not. Sometimes we are doing it well, and other times not so well, but we are always discipling. And it is quite possible we will not know in this lifetime whether our words and actions will help someone – will bear fruit. There are those in our lives who act coldly towards us or even ridicule and slander us, but that does not mean our witness is not having some effect on them, hopefully for the good. As with many issues in our lives, we live this out by faith since we very often do not see the outcome of our efforts and may not until we slip these earthly bonds and fly away. It is by faith that we sow seeds, leaving the outcome to God. We should not be taken by surprise if our open faith stirs up hostility in others, but with eyes of faith, we should assume that good for someone may come out of it. It is always a good idea to pray for those who seem to hate us, because “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” as was how we memorized James 5:16 from the KJV of our childhood. 😊
And the apostle Peter tells us we are actually about to be blessed by the LORD at the very time we may feel most cursed in the world:
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:14-17)
Haille Martin’s talk was a good reminder for us. People are watching. How might the way we live out our faith impact them for eternity?Ω
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