One of the earliest memories of Grandpa Nichols was of coming to his house in Kansas, IL. I was overwhelmed by the artifacts from his missions in Africa. I picked up an elephant make from a dark carved wood and asked my mother where they came from. She said from Africa. I said, “Africa?”
“Yes, that is where your Grandpa Nichols teaches people about Jesus and gives out Bibles.”
I remember seeing him sitting at the island in his kitchen pouring over his Thompson Chain reference Bible. He read it like he was reading a message from a dear friend, carefully pouring over each word. He turned to me and smiled. “Hey, kiddo! Come here and give me a big hug!”
When I expressed, I wanted to go into ministry, I counted Grandpa’s advise as invaluable. He said there are two things you need to know if you want to make it in ministry. You need to know the Bible and know your people. He proceeded to tell me that he would often get on his Sunday school teachers to call on their students at least once a week to see how they are doing. He also gifted me a Thompson Chain Reference Bible and trained me how to use it to create a topical sermon.
Know your Bible, know your people. I found that to be a true way of life for him. He would go to as many basketballs or football games as he could. When I saw him in the audience, I could see him smiling and hear him cheering me on. He would also take the time to tell me what he had been reading in the Bible and tell me how he was using it to help people.
He was also there to speak at my baptism to tell people about Jesus death and resurrection and how baptism was necessary to demonstrate the faith in those events that give us salvation. He was there for my ordination as a minister at Scott Ave. Christian Church.
He took the time to invest in his grandchildren. Sometimes that meant giving unwanted life lessons along the way in a matter-of-fact tone in an almost shouting voice; but, that was his way of saying he was worried about you and loved you enough to tell you the truth. He taught me how to accept criticism and look for the good in all advice.
He loved making understanding the Bible, finding the topics in the Bible, and reading the Bible simple for people. I loved when he showed me his booklets that were just references to what the Bible says about marriage, baptism, salvation, parenting, and etc. He took great delight in that all they were was the Bible. He truly believed the Bible was all you needed to live a great fulfilling live. He modeled the belief in the sufficiency of Scripture.
He was angry with me at times for not always being as practical and simple as he was. Sometimes he yelled as me if I didn’t rake the leaves his way, sweep right, or carry things his way. That was because he viewed himself as a simple person, and if things were not done simply, it was needlessly foolish. Yet, looking back on that he was demonstrating his love for me in that he wanted me to do my best.
When he got older and he needed help, he would ask me to so some outside projects for him. He learned from his mistakes of working with me and said he would pay me for getting the work done. He would also go away so he wouldn’t get frustrated with my work. He later apologized to me for being so frustrated with me and his anger. He also said he was sorry that he was so harsh with his children growing up. He said he just should have been simple and kind to them. I learned how to apologize from him and admit when I was wrong.
He would always be generous and invest in others. He would help me out when I needed it. He gave me several Bibles for ministry. He helped buy my first and second cars. He one time gave the Christmas gift of helping out another family in need. He gave most of his time and money to other people who needed it. I learned to be outrageously generous from him.
He would also often go to services I preached. He always told me how he liked my sermons. He would give me advice on my congregation as an outsider. He also told me he was proud of me. I learned how to encourage others from him.
Know your Bible. Know your people. My grandfather spent over fifty years in ministry. He loved Jesus, the Bible, and people. He was known as truthful and blunt. He helped build churches in the Congo and Nigeria. He gave away tons of Bibles for free so that he was known in many circles as the Bible man. The Bibles he did sell, he used to give Bibles to preachers in Nigeria. He did so any things I can’t give in just one article. I know he loved Jesus, and he loved me. I plan on taking that truth to heart. How about you?