Five years ago today, my Dad, Rev. David Rice went to his final reward. When I reflect on his testimony, I am utterly amazed at sovereign hand of God in all of our lives. Born May 18, 1935 to Ernest Glen and Mary Elizabeth Rice in Patton Junction, MO, Dad spent the majority of his life serving the God he loved and the people of his various congregations.
His testimony begins on a Sunday in 1947, just before his 12th birthday when he was invited to the Temple Baptist Church of Detroit, MI where he heard J. Frank Norris preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was that night that the Lord saved him and Dad immediately became active in the church's youth department. Through these events, my aunt and both of my grandparents came to know the Lord and our family has never been the same since.
Dad attended Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO where he met my mother, Edith and they were married May 25, 1956. From there he pastored and ministered in churches in Florida, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas for over 30 years. He founded two churches during that time: Fellowship Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, FL (now Derbyshire Road Baptist Church in Holly Hill, FL) and Ambassador Baptist Church in Mount Morris, MI (now North Flushing Baptist Church in Flushing, MI). He also served as the school administrator for Braeburn Baptist Academy in Houston, TX.
Dad retired from active ministry in 1990 due to declining health, but even during his retirement, he still traveled with me as an evangelistic team. Under his ministry, over 50 people committed their lives to full-time Christian service: going on to become pastors, missionaries, and Christian educators. He was instrumental in hundreds of people coming to a saving knowledge of Christ, and ministered to countless others as a preacher, teacher, counselor and friend.
He loved enjoyed making people laugh, and always had a kind and caring word for those he came in contact with. An avid fan of baseball, he rarely missed a game on TV, and usually called at least one of us after big games. One of my great memories is calling and talking with him when our beloved Detroit Tigers clinched the 1987 American League East Divisional title, which sadly would be the last time the Tigers would make the playoffs in his lifetime. It is only fitting that the year he passed away, the Tigers actually would go on to become the American League Champions.
If asked what his hobbies were, he would quickly say it was his family. If asked what his greatest accomplishment was, he would say being married to his best friend and three fine sons. “Paw” also enjoyed having his grandsons around to play with and keep him young at heart. He measured his worldly wealth not in money or possessions, but in his family and friends. Using this as a measurement, he left us as the richest man we will ever know.
Dad's favorite hymn was “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing” which is a fitting tribute to a life well lived to the glory of God.
Come Thou Fount of every blessing tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it, mount of God's unchanging love.
Here I raise my Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.
There are so many things in this life that still remind me of him, but the greatest is the legacy of changed lives that the Lord used him to impact. I am so thankful that God saw fit to place me under the care of such a Godly and loving man.
My second CD is entitled “When I Get Home.” It just seems appropriate to quote the chorus of the title song.
I'll see you when I get home in the sweet bye and bye
And we'll walk along the streets of gold with angels by our side
And time will have no meaning there in a land of no “goodbyes,”
Oh it's good to know, I'll see you when I get home!
I can't wait to see you again Dad. I'll make sure to look for you … right after I see my Savior first!