This past Thursday marked 3 years since Tom beat us all to heaven.  I remember the day and the phone call like it just happened.  Much has changed in those 3 years but more has remained the same.

I was 23 when I met Tom, in seminary and working at a big church. I thought I knew a lot about ministry or everything for that matter. I remember thinking Tom and Brenda’s ministry out of their house was a little weird. Then I went to a bible study. Angels did not flap around the room and I don’t have any idea what Tom talked about. But God graciously placed a man in my life that day who loved Jesus and loved people. I can say honestly that I learned more about ministry and my calling from Tom than my time at seminary and working at churches.

At Tom’s funeral our pastor Matt Chandler remarked how rare men like Tom Bailey are. Matt also said that he was rare because it wasn’t that he was especially gifted or talented as much as he was biblical. Tom was obedient to God’s word and God’s call on his life. I have yet to meet another person as focused on who God has called him to be and what God has called him to do.

Tom was a mentor to me in a critical time of my life. God graciously placed him in my life when ministry was difficult. There were days when I had ministry questions and he always took my phone call. The last time I talked to him I just stopped by and we talked ministry and what God was doing.

Then one day God graciously took Tom home. I remember not being shocked or surprised. I did not get angry at God. Somehow that day in God’s sovereign plan it was time. Tom had taught every bible study he needed to teach. Tom had done every counseling session God had required of him.  

I knew 3 years ago God was calling me to step up. I had no idea what that looked like then and even today I am still not completely sure. Tom had spent time with me, not teaching me to be like him, but to be like Jesus. God is still trying to teach me a lot of the lessons Tom taught. God was calling me to be what I read in Scripture and what I had seen modeled for me. God was calling me to be obedient. To take scripture, live it out, and teach others to do the same thing. I want to say it’s not a revolutionary concept except that I don’t see it happen very often. 

Ichthus has changed in the past three years. Different teachers, different faces, different opportunities. God has not changed. Scripture is the same and is still sufficient. God’s call on our lives is the same. We are to be busy about the Lord’s work. That will never change until Jesus comes back.

Today there are passages of scripture that every time I read them I think about Tom teaching them. I have great memories and funny stories from that time. Tom wanted to be like Jesus and wanted others to be like Jesus. The lasting impact that Tom and Ichthus have had on me is that I need to be like Jesus and to teach others to be like him.