I spent some time with my friends the Hartsfields today. They have been part of my life for 29 years. Their retirement party is this weekend and we are able to attend.
Bro. and Mrs. Hartsfield came to Odessa, Texas to take charge of our Christian school at the beginning of the 1980-81 school year. They moved to Odessa from Little Rock, Arkansas with their 3 children. Bro. Hartsfield is now 70 and I turn 40 this year. He has been a part of my life for 75% of my time on this earth. The Hartsfields have had more direct influence at different times on me than they do now, but the indirect influence has continued for these many years, and will continue into the future.
I can’t say that they are perfect people since I know human nature and the Bible would say otherwise. But, they have been consistently faithful to their beliefs and have instilled a deep seated desire in me to do the same. Bro. Hartsfield has always been a disciplined and consistent man, and while that may not have transfered into my life completely, it has been a joy to see someone who essentially is the same man I met 30 years ago.
Recently I heard a sermon based on the book of Third John in the Bible. The pastor mentioned a character I have never really studied. But as he talked about Demetrius I immediately thought of Bro. Hartsfield. The verse is 3 John 12: “Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.”
Demetrius was well spoken of by men. Bro. Hartsfield has a great personal testimony. Today in Mr. Ramirez’s shoe repair shop I mentioned the retirement party to the owner, who I knew to be an acquaintance of Bro. Hartsfield’s. Mr. Ramirez said some incredibly kind words about Bro. H. Every person that Bro. Harsfield met in business or personally became a quick friend. Bro. H. conducts himself in a way that causes you to want to get to know him personally. He has always been well spoken of by men.
Then the Bible says that Demetrius had a good report from the truth itself. According to God’s Word Demetrius lived a holy and right life. Anyone who knows Bro. Hartsfield knows that just being in his presence causes others to think twice about their actions. Not because Bro. H. is going to preach at them, but because they know that if it is an activity in which he would not participate, then it is because the activity probably violates the Bible or a Biblical principle in some way. While Bro. H. does plenty of preaching, he is not one to raise his voice or lose his temper. He is one of the most fun men to be around because you know that in his presence is an opportunity to have clean comedy, games and activities.
Thirdly it says of Demetrius that the apostles spoke well of him. These were men who had been in the presence of Jesus Christ himself. They knew perfection and they still spoke highly of Demetrius. While I have seen people say horrible things about our school and turn away from the teachings of the Bible, I have not met anyone who would speak to the fact that Bro. H. and his wife were not genuine people. The people who know him best, his family and co-workers, also speak highly of him.
I will miss seeing the Hartsfields on a regular basis, but I know that the impact they have had on the lives of the many students who have passed through the school is tremendous. I am just thankful that I can be here for the retirement party and take part in this special event. It is great to be able to honour a family that has been such a blessing to so many.