Even when you know it’s coming, it’s not easy to lose someone. Death is never a kind guest.
This past week I lost a good friend, a relative by marriage, one of my heroes of the faith. I wasn’t related to him by blood, but his death felt like a passing of the baton to those who are still here.
Bailey Marks, Sr. was a man of incredible kindness and wisdom. A southern gentleman in every sense of the word, raised in Birmingham, Alabama, he was part of his family’s furniture business. A gentleman of warmth who would talk to everyone, he did well as a businessman. When challenged to follow a call from the Lord to be part of a ministry to take the Gospel of Jesus to the world, he and his wonderful wife chose to walk away from a lucrative career to follow Jesus.
He began by assisting the president of the organization. A man who was used to making decisions, he chose to follow the decisions made by another. His humble attitude of service endeared him to many. When challenged to transition overseas with his wife and two children, he did so willingly. Embracing a new culture. Living far from his family and American roots. A third child came later.
The family moved many times over the years to a variety of foreign countries. Adjusting, transitioning, making life work. And in those moves, his life and the lives of his family impacted multitudes of people around the world for Jesus. Though he never sought the position, he became influential over the ministry around the world.
Bailey loved his family well. His wife was his best friend and loving companion. When she became sick many years ago, they moved to a place near a beach where he could take care of her. Bailey bought her a poodle puppy she named Ginger, who always stayed with her–but not for long. Her illness progressed rapidly, and within months she passed into her eternal reward.
Losing Elizabeth was difficult for Bailey. Ginger became his constant companion, a little friend and a reminder of his beloved wife.
It would have been easy to take a breather and stop, ignore the call God had on his life. He persevered. Lonely at times, his children and grandchildren rallied around him. They were intentional about spending time with him, reminding him that what he did mattered.
He began a new ministry, helping those who’d served God for years to have the chance to talk about their legacy, what they wanted to leave behind as a picture of how they’d lived for Jesus.
I became part of his family when his grandson married my daughter. He called me his new relative and hugged me with a tenderness that reminded me of my Dad.
He knew how to love well.
He was present at his grandkids weddings and celebrated the births of many of his great grands. Enjoying family; loving those around him.
Fifteen years after his sweet Elizabeth went home to heaven, he joined her. Heaven, I’m sure, rejoiced at his arrival.
He’s finally home.
What I’ll remember most about Bailey was his willingness to give of himself, even in the difficult times. His legacy is one of faithfulness and gentleness.
That’s the picture of a real man.