If you’ve attended Bethel for any length of time you’ve likely heard the name Curtis Salyer. Curtis was
responsible for bringing the Gideon Ministry to Bethel. The Gideons do a phenomenal job of placing Scripture in
hotels, doctors’ offices, schools and many other places. The number of people who have come to Christ through this ministry are too many to count. Recently though, you’ve heard Curtis’ name in a much different context, as we have been praying for him and his wife, Debbie, each week. Curtis had a long, hard fought battle with cancer and that battle mercifully ended on March 9th when our Lord called Curtis to his heavenly home. It truly has been a sacred privilege to visit with Curtis on a number of occasions these last few months. A number of my visits coincided
with some of Curtis’ neighbors who were there to play Bluegrass music for Curtis. It was a blessing to watch Curtis enjoy his beloved Bluegrass and praise his Lord.
One of my last visits with Curtis was with my wife, Karen, and our visit was particularly memorable. Curtis began by telling us what a blessing it’s been having so many church members come to visit with him. He said, “I’ve learned so much about so many of our church members and it made me regret that I didn’t take the time to do this sooner. I’ve been at Bethel for ten years and I feel like I wasted eight of them by not getting to know people sooner. What we need to do is have a house party every month.” I asked Curtis what he meant by “house party.” He said, “Just a time to get
together and eat a meal and get to know each other. We just need to keep it simple and love each other.” I agreed with him that it would be wonderful to do and then I lamented that so many of us seem to be busy with so many things. Curtis said, “It doesn’t have to be that way.” There was a pause in the conversation as I felt the
weight and truth of Curtis’ wise words. He is right, it doesn’t have to be that way and it probably shouldn’t be that way. It seems like we’re really good at spending our time on our next “thing.” That “thing” may be important, good, worthwhile, maybe even Godly, but that “thing” may end up distracting us from the main thing. According to Jesus the main thing is the Great Commandment, loving God and loving our neighbor. It’s hard to love our neighbor if
we don’t actually take time to sit down with them and learn about their hopes and dreams, what challenges they face and what brings them joy. Building loving relationships takes time, but as Curtis will attest, it’s time well spent. Perhaps it’s the best and highest use of our time. It most certainly will help us to fulfill the Greatest Commandment.
As we continue to pray to “Discover God’s Vision Together,” let’s reflect on Curtis’ recent discovery, “Keep it simple and
just love each other.” Perhaps our lives don’t have to be so complicated. Maybe what we need most is to sit down with each other on a regular basis and get to know each other on a deeper level. Maybe “Curtis’ House Party” vision is part of the vision that God is revealing to us.
In Curtis’ most difficult days his thoughts were on the people of Bethel. Moreover, despite his physical pain he
praised his Lord through words and song. This inspired me to consider what would it take for us to be known as a
people of praise? Praise at all times for all things. Here’s why I write these words. I asked Curtis what he’s learned
through his difficult journey with cancer and he said, “I’ve learned to praise God and thank God more. When I’ve had a good day, I thank God for that good day and when I’ve had a bad day, I praise God for that bad day because I know another good day is coming. That’s faith! That’s trusting in the goodness of the Lord.”
For years we’ve had “The Bethel Prayer of Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for the good times. Thank you, Lord, for the bad times. Thank you, Lord, for all times.” I think we can add another prayer to our list. I’m calling it “The Bethel Prayer of Praise.” It goes like this: “I thank you Lord for the good days and I praise You Lord for the bad days, because I know another good day is coming. Amen.”
As we go forward in faith; praying, hoping and seeking to “Discover God’s Vision Together,” let’s think about how we
can be a church that is focused on really getting to know and loving one another. Let’s create opportunities for this to
happen, be it through “Curtis’ House Parties,” small groups, or just inviting each other over for a meal. Curtis Salyer would tell you that time together is time well spent. I thank God for the gift of Curtis Salyer’s life, for his witness and wisdom. May God bless Debbie and the rest of the Salyer family and may God bless Bethel Baptist Church.