Profile of a Righteous Man
Rev. Sudha Mehta©
Dr. Rodney and Lucy Dukes, my Pastors
Proverbs 28:14 Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD . . .(ISV)
If I had lived in the time of Jesus, I might have met Him! I may have followed Him and been a disciple. Perhaps I would have met, followed and emulated the apostles. Even if I had been born in a different nation, in Jesus time on earth, I might have met the Messiah through the teachings of the apostles. After all, two of them, Thomas and Bartholomew, died in India.
If I had lived even earlier than Jesus time 2000 years ago, I might have met Abraham, David or Moses. It is possible that I may have followed after Daniel even if I was born in a far country.
Perhaps if I had been born in any of the previous centuries, and born in the “right place,” I might have met some of the “great” men that through the centuries have carried the Gospel to the World, near and far. Men who brought the Bible to life, men responsible for bringing the Word of God to the masses. I might have held in high regard the inventor of the printing press, and the Bible being made available to the common man.
I wasn’t! In my life time I have met some famous people, famous for different reasons and in different walks of life.
At the age of thirteen, my Daddy won the Blue ribbon (1st Prize) for the largest Cauliflower. It was a Horticulture show and Daddy was a horticulturist by education. Plans to tend family farmland in Bhavalpur (now Pakistan) did not materialize so, he made gardening his avocation. When his name was called he sent me forward to get his award, the woman who handed me the blue ribbon was none other than Indira Gandhi who went on to become the Prime Minister of India.
When I was fourteen my parents took us to Kashmir for vacation, and in Pehalgam I met the movie icon Nargis and her niece Zahida. We had tea with them on the grounds of the hotel we stayed at. I secretly hoped they would “discover” me and that I would end up the “New Sensation” on the “New Large Technicolor Screen.” Well . . . it was a secret until now . . . now you all know! 😃 And yes, I am that old!
Nargis-Hindi Movie Actress
In the Christian World I have met a few famous people. I met Mother Theresa once. She allowed my missions group a tour of her orphanage in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and then prayed with us.
I met a Marilyn Hickey and toured Egypt with her group in 2008. Just last November I met Perry Stone with whose Ministry I toured Israel. These are famous people from whom I have learned a great deal.
But, over all it turned out that I am just “average Jane,” living among a population of “average Joes and Janes.” The heroes of my life also turned out to be men and women not famous in this world, but men and women that are well known to heaven. These have not walked the red carpet, received Oscars, or Emmys, have not made millions of dollars or lived the “lifestyles of the rich and famous.” Their faces have not been plastered on billboards, or magazine covers. They did not make headlines on the evening news or win National awards. BUT, they like Abraham, Enoch, Noah, Moses, David, Deborah, Rahab, Esther, Ruth, Mary and Joseph and others have been men and women of great faith. Some of these have gone on to heaven, others still continue to labor here on Earth. They all fit well in Paul’s description in the following passage:
Hebrews 11: 13 All these people died having faith. They did not receive the things that were promised, yet they saw them in the distant future and welcomed them, acknowledging that they were strangers and foreigners on earth. 14 For people who say such things make it clear that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking about what they had left behind, they would have had an opportunity to go back. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country, that is, a heavenly one. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, because he has prepared a city for them. . . . 38 The world wasn’t worthy of them.(ISV)
Today I want to tell you of one such man. Dr. Rodney Dukes. He was my Mentor.
February 1983: I had only been at the new Church for three Sundays. This being the fourth Sunday, I had worked my way up to sitting in the fourth row on the right side with my six year old daughter. She was hesitant, but by now I was bubbling with excitement. I could hardly contain myself, I had for the first time experienced worship and heard preaching that left me positively ecstatic.
This morning, Pastor Dukes paused after the initial announcements, stepped off the platform and standing in the front, he pulled out some 5×7 cards and announced that the church was going to be taking in some new members.
Dr. Rodney Dukes
New Members? I didn’t even know there were members . . . what members, for what . . . the church had members?? This was a totally new concept for me! I had been born again, but was very new to church and procedure. That said, he started calling the names and as he called, people started rising out of their seats and coming forward to be accepted as members, they were lining up front to his left and right.
Well, I could not contain myself. My right arm knew no inhibition at this point and it just shot up and waved in an interupting sort of a way. There was no getting away from it, everyone was looking at the arm and yes, the woman attached to it. At this point I knew nothing about church etiquette, rules, or anything else. Pastor Dukes couldn’t ignore the intrusion in procedure and . . . well, I had met with him once in his office to introduce myself and tell him my story, so he knew who I was (in my defence). He paused and asked, “Yes, Su?” Everyone called me “Su” then.
I stood up and announced outloud, “I want to be a member!”
He could have informed me about the membership classes I needed to take or have me sit with a promise to deal with my request at a later date. He could just have said I was out of order, but he didn’t. Graciously, this pastor told the whole church that he had met sufficiently with me and knew that my heart was right with God and that he was absolutely confident that I was just the kind of member the church needed.
“Come on forward, Su, we welcome you to join our church family. Bring your little daughter, she is part of the family as well.”
He welcomed me, and I became in that impromptu moment a member of the Assembly of God Church and Denomination. The whole church welcomed me along with the rest of the new members. I do not remember a single face among the others that joined, sorry, I just exulted in my new found identity – a proud Member of the Montgomery Assembly of God. My daughter held my hand tight! We belonged!!
Montgomery Assembly of God
This was the beginning of my relationship with Pastor Rodney Dukes and his family.
A righteous man, Pastor Dukes led the church with great integrity, and his first duty was undoubtedly to God. The reverent fear of God was the driving force for him. He loved his family, and the biggest blessing to him was that his family loved the Lord as he did. What God asked him to do, he did, no questions asked. I appreciated his faith, knowledge, discerning spirit, wisdom, patience and understanding. His dry wit was not lost on me, and his delivery of jokes was impeccable. He found humor in much of life.
Back then at Montgomery Assembly of God, if people got sick they were not encouraged to stay home . . . they came to church to be prayed over and to be healed. Our church saw many a healing . . . testimonies of miracles were commonplace. We saw the move of God as a norm. This is where I learned to walk in healing even as I have continue today. I teach on healing to this day, and have seen many miracles happen in my personal life, my family and my ministry.
Pastor Dukes was a gifted musician as well. Sometimes a service would end with no sermon because he would be at the piano and we all joined him in song, or he would get his accordian out and the worship would get so lively that we felt no need for a sermon. His baritone voice was marvelous to hear, but then he would ask the sopranos (of whom I was one) to belt out the high notes . . . the Lord was surely in our worship.
Choir practice 1984 MAG ( I am in the middle front row.
During the next several years I grew under his teaching, and my hunger for God and his Word was well fed. I loved going to church, it was a true sanctuary for me. Every service the church had, I was there. I loved Sunday school and sang in the choir. Yes, it was here that I discovered that I could be part of an awesome cohesive group of people that truly loved the Lord. It was here that I entered Ministry.
I felt loved by the whole church family, and pastor’s wife Lucy, and daughters Noey and Marci. Montgomery Assembly of God was and will always be Home for me.
The Dukes daughters
Here are some things that Pastor Dukes did for me as my mentor:
He guided me to Berean Bible College. I had a BA in English Literature Honors Course, but had no Bible training. I did know that the Lord had called me to Ministry but had no idea how I to get there. He was the man that made it possible.
When I was done, a couple years later, he was on the panel of Ministers who examined me and confirmed my calling.
During the most difficult times in my life, he was the God-sent Mentor I turned to for counsel and wisdom. When life seemed to fall apart, he was the encourager God sent.
When time came for me to further my education even more and work on my MA in Counseling, Dr. Rodney Dukes encouraged me even in that.
When my family moved to Connecticut due to my husband’s Job, Pastor Dukes and the church prayed over me. He commissioned me as a Missionary. It was entirely unofficial, but I took it as from the Lord.
“New England is a very difficult Mission field,” he said, “God will use you there.” I always remembered his words. I met wonderful pastors in Connecticut with whom I labored for the kingdom.
When I took my first missions trip to India, he helped get a team together. Before I left, he and I visited with a missionary who had been stationed in India. The trip was a marvelous success, and I subsequently returned twice even after moving to Connecticut.
I knew God had called me to a Ministry that was to go beyond National boundaries, God had said it would be International, but I had no clue how.
Over the years, Pastor Dukes remained my “big brother,” my counselor. Although I did not call often, there were times when I reached out to him for counsel. When he and I spoke, he would affirm that God was not done yet, that what He promised, He would do. Interestingly, when I shared this call to international Ministry with some other trusted friends and pastors, they suggested I pray for grace to be content in what I had. They felt God had given me enough and I needed to learn contentment.
Pastor Dukes was the only one who said, “Hang in there, trust God to make it happen.” Then not quite three years ago, the Lord instructed me to drop all other teaching at church and write. Now here I am, just a little blog that my daughter set up for me, and my son helped launch . . . in a little over two years my work has been viewed by close to two million people in all the countries except Iran and North Korea. I have an International Ministry. God kept His Word.
After finishing his life mission in Christ, Pastor Dukes recently made an address change. He moved to heaven, and has been given a warm welcome there. I am confident the Lord received him in His presence with the words:
Matthew 25: 21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’(NKJV)
In my humble opinion, when I teach, I tell my students that if they leave my class richer (in knowledge and understanding of Christ) than when they entered, then I have done my job well. Pastor Dukes did his job well, and left this world a richer place than when he entered. The world could use more men like him.
This is the longest post I have written, but it is my hope that you too will get something good out of this post . . . and be richer!
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