Compiled by Roger S. Oldham
"You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures." —Psalm 16:11
His headstone reads,
Charles Everett Harper, Sr.
December 30, 1930–September 12, 2011
Linda Ellis's popular poem, "The Dash," reminds us that what matters most in life is "the dash between those years."
The obituary fleshes out the dash a little more, "A longtime resident of Baton Rouge, Charles celebrated a glorious union with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on Monday, September 12, 2011."
It Is God's Plan and Delight to Save the Lost
When Charlie returned from the Korean War, he and his young bride Doris moved back to his home state of Louisiana, settling in Baton Rouge.
One evening their doorbell rang. Two ladies—Marie Bozeman and her sister-in-law, Jenette Kilmon—part of Goodwood Baptist Church, a new church start in Baton Rouge, were standing at the door. They spoke with Charlie and Doris, offering a brief witness and leaving a Gospel tract. During the course of the conversation, they asked if Charlie and Doris had a Bible.
"She asked if I had a Bible to look up the Scriptures," Doris recalled. "I did not have a Bible. Marie said, 'I want you to have this Bible.' I said, 'No, I can't take your Bible.' She kept on until I took the Bible. I did look up the verse, but didn't understand anything I read."
The Bible Marie left was her husband's Bible, a Holman Bible with a thumb-hole worn through the leather from sharing the Gospel over the years.
"The next Sunday, I told Charles we have to go to that lady's church" and return her Bible, Doris added. When they showed up for the church service, the church was meeting in a tent. "I had never in my life seen anything like it. Water was running off the top of the tent, to make it cool, I guess."
At the conclusion of the service, the pastor offered an invitation to trust Jesus Christ as Savior. Doris and Charlie stepped into the aisle and made their way to the front of the tent. A few minutes later, they both confessed their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. They were baptized as believers and became lifelong members of Goodwood, where Doris continues to serve the Lord.
It is God's Plan and Delight to Save Families and to Extend His Kingdom Across Generations
When Charlie and Doris trusted in Christ, they became genuine followers of Jesus. A godly lay couple, they served the Lord together through numerous ministries at their church. They made sure their sons were in church and introduced each of their sons to faith in Jesus Christ.
Their sons, one of whom preceded Charlie in death, married godly wives, investing their faith and values into their own children as well. Charlie had the great privilege of knowing and experiencing the joy the Apostle John wrote about: I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 4).
Charlie became a trusted and respected leader and began to serve in additional capacities. He became manager of the food bank for the local association and began working with the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Louisiana State University. He was elected as moderator of the association.
Ministry opportunities continued to present themselves. He was a Mission Service Corps volunteer for the North American Mission Board, served on the executive board of the Louisiana Baptist Convention (LBC), and was elected second vice president of the LBC. At the time of his death, Charlie lacked one year completing his final term of service on the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.
It is God's Plan and Delight to Overcome Our Fears through Confidence in the Gospel of Christ
Try to put yourself in the shoes of those two ladies who went out to make visits on that summer afternoon. They had no knowledge of what awaited them on the other side of that door. What fears may have gripped them as they rang the doorbell?
But, through their faithful obedience, they initiated a sequence of events that has made an eternal difference. Charlie's and Doris's lives were eternally changed by the power of the Gospel. Their children and children's children have been introduced to the resurrection power of the resurrected Christ. Countless others have been influenced for the Gospel as a result of the transformation wrought in Charlie's and Doris's lives. And it all began with the simple trust in the power of the Gospel of two obedient women who rang a doorbell!
Listen again to the words the Lord inspired John to pen so long ago, I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth. And hear Marie and Jenette, now joined in heaven by Charlie, say with gladness in their souls, "Amen. And, amen!"