While I was standing line at Culver’s on Father’s Day, I received a text from one of our Kentucky Baptist pastors that his grandfather had suddenly passed away. His grandfather was John “Shorty” Hendrix, who was a deacon in a church where I served for 11 years.
Shorty Hendrix was unlike any other man I have ever known. He was born in 1932 near Rayville, La. He joined the army when he was 16 years old, met Juanita and married in 1952. He retired from the Army after 26 years of service and devoted the remainder of his life to farming, raising a family and active involvement in his church. In fact, it is fair to say that Shorty’s life revolved around his faith and his family.
When Job experienced news of a tremendous personal loss he said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21b). Although Shorty’s life has been taken from us on this earth, God gave so much to so many through his example.
1. The Lord gave a loving family patriarch: Anyone who knew Shorty knew that he loved his family. Shorty’s family includes his wife Juanita – to whom he was married for nearly 70 years – his children, (Debra, Pam and Ken), his nine grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. Each of these knew they were loved by Shorty.
2. The Lord gave a faithful servant: I got to know Shorty while pastoring First Baptist Church in Oak Grove. He was a deacon of the church and I soon discovered that Shorty would do whatever was necessary to serve the Lord. There was no job that was above him or below him. He was our song leader while we were without one. He repaired the icemaker at the church parsonage. He was faithful to go on visitation or do anything else that was needed. Shorty was a model of quiet and faithful service to Jesus.
3. The Lord gave a friend to many people: Shorty and Juanita taught a Sunday school class for young couples at the church. Their class was always full and was a launching pad for others who would go from there to serve the Lord. First Baptist, since it was located near a military base, had five or six first time visiting families nearly every Sunday. Each Sunday morning Shorty and Juanita would put a roast in the oven or something in the crock pot before heading to teach Sunday school. They would look for first time visiting families and invite them to their home for lunch. As a result, their refrigerator was covered, not only with pictures of their own family, but of military families from all over the country.
4. The Lord gave a legacy: Shorty lived for the Lord in such a way that it made it easy for those who were closest to him to follow and serve Jesus. They were able to witness a contagious Christian by watching him quietly serve the Lord day in and day out. His son Ken and grandson Jesse both answered the call to preach and are currently serving as Kentucky Baptist pastors.
Shorty will be missed by everyone that knew and loved him, but his legacy will live on through the lives of so many people that he influenced, including my own. Praise God for men like John “Shorty” Hendrix who live their life to the full serving Jesus by loving people. May the Lord give us more like him.