Rev. Sudha Mehta©
Pastor Rodney Dukes
Psalm 127:3 Children are indeed a heritage from the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is His reward.(BSB)
A while ago I wrote a post titled Mentor
Here is one that merits being a companion to it. “Mentor” remains a well read post. I think it is fair to say “Character speaks!”
Over the last several years I have read a number of articles and have seen news of many pastors give up on their faith and walk away from God, denying Him completely. I have seen musical artists do the same. Heresy is becoming more and more common. Some Authors of books that I recommended in my counseling career to help others, have now given up on God. They have lost their way yet they maintain that they have actually now “found” their way, after rejecting God. Music artists that were raised in Pastor’s homes speak of how their faith never felt “real” even though they grew up in everything Christian. Now denying their faith, and walking away from God, fully embracing the contemporary anti-God culture they are so immersed in, anti-faith, they feel relieved and no longer “hypocritical.”
One of them, (I will leave him unnamed) said this: “After growing up in a Christian home, being a pastor’s kid, playing and singing in a Christian band, and having the word ‘Christian’ in front of most of the things in my life — I am now finding that I no longer believe in God.” (Caleb Parke, Fox News May 26, 2020)
It is tragic! I find my heart breaking for him and his parents!! May the Lord look upon the whole family kindly and bring this prodigal son home.
There are many other stories, each one heartbreaking. But today, I want to share a story of love, a story written by a pastor’s daughter who didn’t walk away from her parents or God.
What follows is a “Tribute” written by a daughter, who grew up in a pastor’s home. Noelle happens to be the younger daughter of my Mentors Dr. and Mrs Rodney Dukes. Dr. Dukes now calls heaven his home, while Mrs. Dukes (Lucy) now resides with her daughter Noelle here on Earth.
Noelle posted this tribute online a few days ago and my heart was truly moved. I asked if I may share this post of hers, she graciously agreed. Here is a result of godly upbringing in a pastor’s home that turned out radically different than those that make the celebrity news.
Lucy and Pastor Rodney Dukes
When Marci and I were growing up, as preacher’s kids, the charge was sometimes made that we lived “sheltered lives.” At the time, I wasn’t sure that I agreed. Yes, it was true that people would sometimes halt their conversations when we came in the room, apologize if they said a cuss word (imagine that!), and not do certain things around us, but on the other hand, we had a front row seat to some of the pain and devastation our sin-weary world could produce. There were the counseling sessions with people in our home, sometimes long into the night, whose crises ranged from rape and teen pregnancies, to those contemplating divorce or suicide, to those trying to put their lives back together after being affected by the same, to those desperate for financial assistance, to abuse, addictions and beyond, to name a few. Because Mom and Dad believed in trying to being available to people when needed, it was impossible to keep some awareness of these things from us at all times. Although they shielded us as much as possible, “little pitchers have big ears” the saying goes!
In our own lives, like so many kids, at various times we experienced bullying, rejection, feeling ostracized and stigmatized over whatever the current standard of who’s “in” and who’s “out” was at the time. It was not hard to find things to pick on us about…we were shy, we weren’t athletic (to put it mildly), we both had growth spurts at a young age which made us stand out from our classmates like a sore thumb, we didn’t wear name brand clothes, we didn’t drink and party, we rarely went to movies (another cultural oddity), we went to church all the time (a Pentecostal one at that!), and we were from Kentucky! With two sets of flat feet, a set of braces, and two pairs of glasses between us, it’s a wonder we survived (mostly intact – haha!) Thank goodness we had each other!!
Marci, Rodney and Noelle
Noelle, Lucy and Marci with Rodney in front
But looking back, I would have to agree – we were so sheltered, so blessedly sheltered. By God’s grace, most of the tragedies we were aware of, were a secondary knowledge, not ones we’d experienced ourselves. By God’s grace, we had parents who provided a safe refuge when the world felt too cruel and our little hearts were broken. By God’s grace, He put us in loving churches where the family of God overwhelmingly celebrated us for who we were and didn’t have unrealistic expectations of us. By God’s grace, the Word of God found root in our hearts and we were led to understand that we were “accepted in the beloved” and nothing could separate us from God’s love. When I look around at the evils manifested and perpetrated so blatantly and unapologetically today, I thank God for our sheltered lives, and wish that every child in this generation could experience that kind of safety and security.
Rodney and Noelle
I was looking at this picture of me with my Dad, as what would have been his 79th birthday approaches, and thanking God for a father (and mother) who sheltered us from as much heartache and pain as they possibly could for as long as they could. Daddy was so much bigger than everybody else and he seemed impervious to fear, so to Marci and me, he seemed invincible, and no one ever made us feel more secure.
In this photo, we were at an outdoor event in Washington D.C. and it rained cats and dogs all day, but we had the best time anyway, because we were together in the storm! Ya’ll know the way my mind works by now and I couldn’t help but think as I remembered that scene, “Thank you, Heavenly Father, that even now, when it feels as though the storm is raging all around us, I am safely sheltered, because You are with me.” One of my favorite phrases I heard recently, is that everything that comes into our lives, as children of God, is “Father-filtered” (John Kilpatrick). He doesn’t guarantee sunny skies, but He guarantees He’ll be with us even if it’s pouring rain!
Psalm 5:11 says, “But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them sing for joy, and spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.”
I do believe, no matter how stormy life may get, I am my Father’s child, and He’s bigger than everybody else! By His grace, I am living a “sheltered life.” And so are you.
I think you will agree that Rodney and Lucy Dukes did right by their children, and by God. I don’t think a commentary from me is necessary.
All around the World are countless pastors who labor in the ministry in very difficult fields, often persecuted, maligned, and without many comforts of life. The vast majority of these that truly love the Lord faithfully and serve Him with all their hearts, raise their children in difficult and trying circumstances. I will tell you that God is faithful, they have their reward and the children they raise grow to be strong in their faith and will never turn their backs on God. Many of these children also enter full time Ministry and continue the godly legacy of their parents. I know there are pastors like Perry Stone and Matthew Hagee that follow in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents who served the Lord. These two are fifth or sixth generation pastors.
Proverbs 20: 7The righteous man walks with integrity; blessed are his children after him.(BSB)
I share this today just to say that the few who find themselves conflicted, disillusioned and troubled enough to walk away from God make the news , and the culture at large praises them and mocks Christians, Christianity and even God. But, my friends, Noelle and Marci’s story illustrates well another side of the story.
To those pastor-parents who are going through heartbreak today because of children struggling in their faith, I say: Be encouraged, our God remains faithful. He has promised to never leave you nor forsake you. You can stand in the gap for your children, wait upon the Lord as the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Know that Satan is a defeated foe.
Deuteronomy 7: 9Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His covenant of loving devotion for a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.(BSB)
God is indeed a covenant keeping God, I know this from experience!!
Next week, more on Prophecy! stay tuned!!
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