A great friend died yesterday. His name was Kirk Neely (Bebop). I was fortunate to know him for the last five of his 90 wonderful years. He opened his home to my family for our first eight weeks in Spartanburg. In those weeks he and his wife, Ruth (Nanny) became like grandpartents to Ashley and I and great grandparents to Anderson. In fact, it was Bebop who got Anderson to start talking. I can remember many nights that I would come to their home after work to find Anderson curled up next to Bebop on the couch watching T.V.
Bebop has hundreds of “blood relatives.” In fact, the Neely clan is so large that they have their own bowl game (Neely Bowl) during the Thanksgiving weekend. However, because of Bebops love for the Lord and his passion for people, there are thousands upon thousands that have been touched in some way by his life. Bebop is a true man of God who even to his death was telling the Good News of Jesus.
Tonight as our family sat down to dinner, Anderson said, “I don’t want to die.” “What?” I said. “I’m scared to die,” Anderson replied. I wondered if he was thinking about Bebop. “You don’t have to be scared to die…are you worried about Bebop?” He nodded his head yes. “Bebop is in heaven today with Jesus,” I said. I told Anderson that it would be a long time before he would die and that when that time came he would get to see Bebop again. I told him that everyone who believes in Jesus and asks him in their heart will live forever in heaven when they die. Then Anderson said, “but what if I don’t have Jesus in my heart?” There it was. Anderson began asking what it meant to believe in Jesus. In that moment I thought that he would ask Jesus into his heart, but in the end Anderson jumped to another subject and the conversation ended. I took that as a sign that he wasn’t ready. But the conversation has begun. I know that Bebop was glad to be part of Anderson and Ellis’ lives. He thought of them as bonus great grandchildren. Though Bebop isn’t here anymore – his legacy lives on. Tonight’s conversation with Anderson is part of that legacy. Bebop would be proud to know that he was part of Anderson’s faith formation. Thank you Bebop for always pointing us to Jesus. May we always live our lives that way – pointing people to Jesus and giving Him all the glory.