Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Death of a Man of God

If you have been living in Jefferson County for long, you have heard of Judge Irvin Emerson, who was killed last night after being involved in a minor automobile accident. Everyone knew him as "Judge." He was a county judge and a man of God.  Aged 92, he was an adult Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church of Hillsboro, and he was in attendance there on Sunday, the day before he died..

Last night at about 5:30, a car hit the one his wife, Betty, was driving. They stopped to see the damage and Judge got out of the car. As he walked around it, another car hit him.

Shortly after we moved to DeSoto in 1979, when my husband was pastor of First Baptist Church here, we met Judge. Our church was leading in a community-wide tent revival. The tent where we met each night was on the ground across from where the McDonald's restaurant is located now. These revivals were held during one week of summer for several successive years during my husband's pastorate. The dirt floor was reminiscent of the old-time revival meetings, and people crowded together to hear Southern Baptist evangelists, a different one each year.

Neighboring churches came together for the nightly services and Hillsboro Baptist, where Judge and his wife were members, was one of the churches involved in the effort. A platform was built, about two feet high, for the speaker's stand and the singers and instruments. At the end of each service, an "altar call" was given and people moved forward, knelt in the dust at the edge of platform, and prayed. Counselors were assigned to go to those people, pray with them, and help them with any decision they might want to make.

One night, during the invitation, my husband was walking around, monitoring, making sure there were counselors available for each person who came to the altar. There, in the dust at the altar, he saw a little boy, and kneeling next to him was "Judge." He was praying with a child, and leading him to salvation. He might be a servant to the people, wearing his judicial robe and sitting in a courtroom by day, but that night he was God's servant, as he knelt in the dirt and ministered to one of God's littlest ones.

This visual impression has stayed with us all these years. Judge was a man who lived his religion. People knew he was a Christian by his actions, whether in the courtroom or on the street. Judge entered into Heaven last night. No doubt he was welcomed with the open arms of God, as he heard God say, "Well, done, my good and faithful servant."

Judge, you will be missed in Jefferson County, Missouri.

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