photo of Joe Halford There was a man who made a living and supported his family as most men do. He loved his Lord, loved the church the Lord sustains, and loved people. This people-person genuinely enjoyed assembling with Christians to worship and glorify God.

There was a man who struggled with crippling arthritis. He fought it and resisted it as it increasingly restricted his life, limited his involvement, and finally confined him to a wheel chair. He fought his disease with a cheerful disposition, a smile, a growing love for his Lord, and a constant love for people.

There was a man who fought his arthritis with fierce, personal determination. He had surgeries. He took growing numbers of medications that steadily increased in strength. Yet, slowly but certainly, the disease increased its hold on his life. But his cheerful disposition never left, his smile never faded, his love for his Lord and his Lord's church never dimmed, and his love for people was constant. Many visited to encourage this man, but most left encouraged by him. He always laughed. He always smiled.

There was a man whose replacement wrist joint wore out. His spine in his neck became about the size of a pencil. He often wore a thick collar for protection because he could not survive sudden movements. An unexpected jerk could literally break his neck. But his cheerful disposition remained, his smile never faded, his love for the Lord and his Lord's church never dimmed, and his love for people continued.

There was a man who could not assemble for worship with the Christians he loved. He came in his wheelchair for a long time. With time his worship visits grew less frequent. Even in his home movement from his bed to his wheelchair and his wheelchair to his recliner became a major struggle. But he refused to stay in bed. He loved to listen to taped sermons. The last time he worshipped the God he loved with the Christians he loved, it took him almost a week to recover. Yet, he loved that visit! His cheerful disposition came! His bright smile was present! And the many who warmly, fondly visited with him felt the love!

There was a man who had to take huge amounts of pain killers to endure each day. As the disease advanced, the doses of those pain killers were enormous. Most people taking that amount of medication would exist in a state of stupor as minds and bodies were numbed to fight the pain. But not even those pain killers erased his cheerful disposition, or took his smile away, or masked his love for the Lord and the Lord's church, or hid his love for others.

The man was Joe Halford. Why was Joe Halford this kind of man? Many factors contributed to his kind disposition, his constant smile, and his love for the Lord and for other people. Yet, all those factors rested on one foundation. Joe Halford was that man because Joe Halford knew the Man. Joe understood why Jesus died and what God accomplished in Jesus' death and resurrection. Joe understood Jesus gave him life.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 7 October 2001

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