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Commander My Commander
by Mark Bradley
05/28/05
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Life has a tendency to keep you very occupied at times. There are days when you get sucked into what you are doing and donít have time to breath. My life has been doing that lately. That it until I got a phone call last Sunday. My friend called, and I was happy to hear from him. The message he brought was not good news, however. It seems that a friend of ours from church had just passed away.
I sat in stunned silence for a few moments when I hung up the phone. All that I had been doing was suddenly just not on my mind. This was a man that I called friend, brother, and mentor. His advice was one that I listened to intently, because I knew that he would never lead me astray. He was a Godly man, who loved his Lord and loved the work he did for the Lord.
His name was Tom Pittenger. He was the Awana Commander at Bethel Baptist Church in Valrico, Florida. He had battled through pain caused by heart and kidney problems for most of the time that I knew him. But he always had a smile for everyone that he met, and he could make you laugh in spite of whatever day you were having.
He loved kids, and he loved making them smile. He had been working with kids for many years. He was an Awana leader for my wife, and Iím no teenager. He saw the way to improving our churches and for making this country greater. It was through the children. He knew that children are key to the success or failure of any country, ministry, or family.
Why? Because Satan wants to corrupt kids. If he can turn enough kids away from God, then he doesnít have to worry about them when they become adults. But kids that are brought up believing in God and trusting God are far more dangerous to Satan. Those are the kids that become pastors and Sunday school teachers and missionaries and Godly parents.
Tom knew this, and spent the better part of his life teaching children the way that God has for them. Whether it was leading an Awana program or driving a Sunday School route or just taking the kids to an amusement park, he was always trying to show Christ to them in word and in deed. He taught a few adults as well. I know. Iím one of them.
We are sad because we miss Tom greatly. But in that sadness, I am happy for him because he doesnít hurt anymore. He is walking with Jesus right now, and they are probably talking about a phrase that I know Tom said to me countless times; ďSuffer the children, to come unto me.Ē Jesus knew. Tom knew.
I miss him for now. I canít wait to see him again. Iíll run a lap around the circle for you.



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