My dad just went from stage 3 to stage 4 squamous cell skin cancer on his head; this means it has penetrated his brain. This post will be written as tribute to my dad. My dad, Ron Grow, hails from Gardena and Lake Elsinore, California; currently residing in Wildomar, California. He is one of three siblings, my Aunt Sue, his older sister went to be with the risen Christ in 1985, and my Aunt Linda, his oldest sister, is still living in assisted living battling with dementia and other health issues. He is the son of Jacob “Buster” and Betty Grow, both in the presence of the living God where there are pleasures forevermore. My grandpa Buster was a hay dealer, starting in Gardena, and eventually moving out to the Lake Elsinore area back in the late 40s (as I recall). This is the household my dad grew up in; not a house where Christ was well known. My dad radically came to Christ out of drugs and alcohol just a few years out of high school in the late 60s (my dad’s household came to Christ as a result of his witness). He was mentored by a pastor at his Conservative Baptist church in Elsinore. From there my dad sensed the call to pastoral ministry, and entered Southwestern Conservative Baptist Bible College in Phoenix, Arizona in the early seventies. Here he met my mom, Bev, and here I came into existence; AFTER they married. Over the next four years my sister, Staci, and brother Jeff would come into the world as well. My dad went on to pastor a variety of Baptist and Evangelical Free churches; he even started First Baptist Church of Tenino (Washington), being sent out from the mother church: Mt. View Baptist Church (in Centralia, Washington). He ended his pastoral career at Calvary Baptist Church in North Long Beach, CA; at this point I was in high school. He retired from formal pastoral ministry in and around 94. From that point on he went on to manage a Christian owned used car dealership in Bellflower, CA: i.e. Mike’s Auto Sales. In all of this ministry what characterized my dad’s approach was evangelism. Whether he was pastoring or operating as a hospital chaplain (which he did for a while), or as a car salesman, he has always been about proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom to all who would hear.
With the ups and downs that attend each and everyone of our lives in this rough and tumble world, my dad has gone onward and lived out his life in retirement with a host of health issues. It has been a struggle and continues to be for my dad; fiscally, health-wise, and in other ways. My parents divorced after thirty-six years of marriage some years ago now, and so my dad has been living a solitary life in these last many years. In the midst of it all, no matter where my dad has found himself, no matter what the tough circumstances, he has borne witness to Jesus Christ. He points people to Christ even in the midst of his own tough circumstances; and they have been tough!! particularly over these last many months. There has been a convergence of circumstances that have helped to only exacerbate my dad’s current plight; and yet I know he has continued to share Christ with those he comes into contact with—even in the midst of the “real.” He has never lost his resolve to share Christ with anyone who will hear; this of all things, I think, is my dad’s legacy. And it is the legacy of the Spirit’s ministry; indeed, this is the Spirit’s ministry, to bear witness to the work and voice of the risen Christ.
While imperfect, like us all, my dad has lived, and continues to live in the very grist of the broken yet now resurrected humanity of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. Here my dad finds the ground of all that he is all the way down. No matter what the swirls of this life bring my dad, he lives in the sweat and blood of the work of Jesus Christ for him. Here my dad gains his hope, and through the eternal Son becoming fallen human my dad finds his way eternal. Paul Hinlicky describes this work of Christ like this:
We are . . . to think that (per creedal belief) the man Jesus Christ rendered in the gospel narrative, qua this particular mortal being of manger and cross, is the coming to us of the Father’s Eternal Son; and we are to think (again a belief) that the Eternal Son, God from God and Light from Light, comes from the Father by the Spirit to seek and find us in this particular man’s journey to Golgotha. If we understand the exchanges of attributes entailed by this belief in the “one Lord, Jesus Christ” as the personal decision and various acts and passions of the Son in the Trinity’s love for us, we understand all that there is to be understood theologically about the Incarnation: we bend the knee, confess Jesus as the saving Lord, and give glory in the Spirit to the Father in anticipation of the redemption of our bodies by membership in His Body, harbinger of the Beloved Community.
It is this ‘Beloved Community’ that my dad has been a contributing member to, and continues to be, for many many years. It is in communion with this man on the path to Golgotha whom my dad came into step with back those many years ago in Lake Elsinore, California. It is this Light from Light that my dad has seen and continues to see the Face of God in. It is in the ‘passions of the Son in the Trinity’s love for us’ that my dad has been swept up into the heights of God’s life, even as that very life continues to stoop down into the misery and suffering of this broken vessel if only to inject the power of resurrection into the life-blood of my dad’s aching body. My dad lives in this creed, and it is the Life of the creed that breathes His life into his, and springs forth an eternal well-spring of hope.
I love my dad, and always will for eternity. He has ultimately pointed me to Christ, and continues to, even in his besetting illness. My dad, even in the formation of many scars and bruises, has in his weakness, pointed me to the broken but raised body of Jesus Christ. As my dad has found his life in the living Christ, through the ministry of the Spirit therein, I too came to find my life in union with this same mysterious of God and humanity in the singular ‘face’ of this person from Nazareth. My dad’s legacy is that he has the Spirit of Christ at work in his life, and in that come-alongside ministry he has been able to point others to the ground of his life in Christ. This is my dad’s legacy, and it continues to build; his life is not over, and by God’s Grace and Mercy he might find many years of life and ministry as he lives with us ‘flatlanders’ together as we hasten the coming of Christ in love and good works to the praise of the everlasting Father.
In closing, and with reference to Hinlicky on Luther’s theology one more time: “To be truly human is to rise from the dead. Jesus Christ is this new, true Adam. In Him, we too, and we all, are becoming truly human.” This is my dad’s hope, and all of humanity’s hope; it is the resurrection that brings the needed power into my dad’s life, alongside the rest of the Beloved Community. My dad is only human, as are we all, as he, and we participate in the indestructible life of the Lamb of God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Jesus Christ. My dad knows the voice of the Lamb; I know this because along with my mom he introduced me to it, and the voice lives on through the Spirit’s breath. To God be the glory, and the peace of Christ be my dad’s bread of life in these travailing moments of trial and tribulation.
 My mom and dad also gave birth to Nathaniel Douglas Grow in the early eighties while my dad pastored an Evangelical Free Church in Green, OR (Roseburg area). Nathaniel survived thirty minutes outside the womb, and then entered the presence of the Triune God due to an inoperable (which is now operable in the 21st century) heart condition.
 Paul R. Hinlicky, Luther and the Beloved Community: A Path for Christian Theology after Christendom (Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 54-5.