A Tribute to My Godfather-Uncle, the Late Bishop E. L. Woodside, Sr. Dec. 12, 1938 – March 10, 2017
Some Commentators and Observers of the Early Church’s History have surmised and speculated that the role of Godparents in the beginnings of that Christian community was birthed out of the intense persecution they were subjected to at that time. It was a very perilous time to be a Chrisitan, literally life-threatening. Facing the reality of the day they lived in, it is thought by some that those parents did what most parents would do – look out for the well-being of their children, even if it meant making arrangements for that in their absence. They began to ask each other to commit to assuming the role of becoming their child’s surrogate PARENT, raising their child just like they would in GODLINESS, in the fear and admonition of the Lord according to Christian convictions. Hence, the term, role, function and purpose of a GODPARENT evolved. It was a highly-trusted and honored position. When a parent asked another adult to become their child’s GODPARENT, in essence they were saying, “I have such trust and confidence in you, that if something happens to me and I’m no longer here, I believe you will raise my child according to the faith we uncompromisingly hold, in the same way I would.”
Fast-forward to where we are now in time, and for a moment let’s accept this speculation as true. Unfortunately in our culture, we choose Godparents for a whole host of reasons that have little-to-nothing to do with the original intent. HOWEVER, THAT IS NOT THE CASE WITH THE PEOPLE THAT ARE MY GODPARENTS. Bishop E.L. & Mother Eva Woodside more than admirably fulfilled the role in my life my parents entrusted them to. They served as examples of great Christian character, conduct and convictions, and made extremely, critically-essential contributions to my development as a follower-of-Christ – GODPARENTS! There are many instances that I can sight as examples where this is the case. I don’t have the time to do so right now and this space is not adequate to do it justice. But there is one contribution I MUST HIGHLIGHT…
My GODFATHER planted a church, FIRST CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST. I was a teenager when he began pioneering this ministry. They started out in Northern Nassau County, New York, in the Port Washington – Great Neck area. Eventually, my GODFATHER followed the leading of the Lord and moved the church to Hempstead, New York. One evening, a petite, simply beautiful, young woman came in the church while service was going on. Circumstances, along with the recommendation of a friend moved her to come, seeking God. When the opportunity to receive Christ was presented, that young woman responded, accepting Jesus into her heart. She continued with that ministry, until the Lord moved her elsewhere to continue her walk with the Lord. My GODFATHER had no idea that his obedience to the Lord to begin that ministry was going to result in his GODSON having a saved wife! That young woman was/is none other than the Mrs. Patricia K Butler, my incredible wife. This woman is, after Jesus, the best thing that ever happened to me. And a large part of that is because she began to walk with the Lord at the invitation of my GODFATHER.
How awesome is that?! I’m quite sure my GODFATHER never dreamed that one of the converts to Christ through his ministry efforts would become THE GODLY WOMAN THAT GOD WANTED HIS GODSON-NEPHEW TO HAVE. My wife is an indescribable blessing to me in so many ways BUT ESPECIALLY AS A FOLLOWER-OF-CHRIST. And that happened through my GODFATHER and GODMOTHER’S (our spouses are critical to our ministries) yieldedness to God. For the last 27 plus years, I have awakened each day to the joy, honor and privilege of marriage to this woman. For the last 27 plus years, I have benefitted from/been blessed by her ministering to me AS A CHRISTIAN. And on, and on, and on, I could go. The earthly catalyst in this is MY GODFATHER. And every day I am reminded of what a real GODPARENT is because I get to live with and enjoy the fruit of their labor. To me, besides communicating the Gospel, there is no greater contribution a GODPARENT could make to their GODCHILD’S life than this.
Uncle, with tears in my eyes, I express my eternal gratitude to you for the Godfather you are and to my wonderful Godmother. I am thankful to my cousins, your children for the contributions they made to me as my Godsiblings. We are now separated by the great gulf that exists between time and eternity. But I am thankful for the rich Godly heritage you left me as a godson, especially the beautiful reminder I have of it every day in the person of your Goddaughter/Niece. I’m really gonna miss you. I’m gonna miss your wisdom. I’m gonna miss your unconditional support. I’m gonna miss your strength. I’m gonna miss your sobriety. I’m gonna miss your unconditional love. I am especially grateful for what you did the last time we were in Bennettsville, South Carolina. But I promise, that I will go on to finish my course as you did yours so that we can see each other again, when all of God’s people are together forever in the Presence of the Father and the Son, surrounding the Throne in worship and praise.
I am brokenhearted. But I am also celebrating because…”THE CHARIOT FINALLY SLOWED DOWN SO YOU COULD RIDE!!!”
With Sorrow But Much Love,
Your Godson-Nephew, Darren E Butler, Sr