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Bob Dixon’s influence: enduring gratitude

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ernest Easley, senior pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., pays tribute to Bob Dixon, who led Texas Baptist Men for nearly three decades until his retirement in 1998. Dixon, now 85, became a Christian some 75 years ago at age 10 at Avondale Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn. Texas Baptist Men’s headquarters in Dallas is named in his honor, the Robert E. Dixon Mission Equipping Center.

MARIETTA, Ga. (BP) — God has a way of bringing people into your life to accomplish His purposes. Bob Dixon, retired president of the Texas Baptist Men, was one of those people in my life.

Bob Dixon was my Royal Ambassadors leader at Lake Highlands Baptist Church in Dallas. He taught me how to build a fire without matches using a fuzz stick, set up a tent, tie various knots, cook a meal in foil in coals, fry an egg on a “buddy burner” and properly hand somebody an open knife. He taught me what it meant to be “an ambassador for Christ” and motivated me to earn every patch available through the R.A. program — and I did.

He coached me through my first R.A. track meet in 1967 where, together, we won the High Point Man award by scoring more points in five events than any other 10-year-old. He helped me discover “speed,” which led me to be recruited by Baylor University in 1976 to run the 400 intermediate hurdles.

While in college, he encouraged me to serve in Monticello, Minn., in the summer of 1978 as a Texas Baptist Young Men’s staffer to assist a church planter. I explained to Mr. Dixon that due to track season I was behind in my college hours and needed to take a couple of classes during the summer. “Ernest,” he said, “you can always go to school. God needs you this summer in Minnesota.” He asked if I would pray about going to Minnesota that summer to assist the church planter with student ministry. I assured him that I would.

The next week I received a letter from him with my assignment for Minnesota, when I needed to be there, what I needed to bring and what his expectations were of me. I immediately called him asking him about the letter. I said, “I thought you asked me to pray about going to Minnesota this summer?”  He said, “I did say that. I prayed about you going up there and God told me to tell you that you needed to go, so I sent you your assignment.”

How do you argue with that? Well, I did go to Minnesota that summer. I did assist the pastor with student ministry. And, I met the pastor’s daughter. At the end of the summer, I had her in the car with me and brought her to Texas. We married nine months later! Bob Dixon had no idea the many reasons why God wanted me in Minnesota for the summer of 1978!

R.A. leader. Track coach. Outdoors instructor. Ambassador teacher. Matchmaker.

Only heaven knows how many people have been influenced for Christ through the life of Bob Dixon, Mr. Texas Baptist Men! I am one of many and will forever be grateful.
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  • Ernest Easley