Friendships are very special, especially the ones that extend many years. My close friend, Steve Wade, passed from this life to the next last week. Our friendship began in 1967 and we have tread many different waters together during those 47 years; some fun ones and some troubled ones as we played music together, enjoyed sports, were business partners and ministry partners during that time.
Steve was a unique individual with a personality that drew others in. His straight forwardness was such that everyone knew exactly where he stood on the subject at hand. Not known for being “Mr. Tact,” he never minced words and simply let the chips fall where they might. This, of course, has its good and its bad repercussions. And sometimes he would need me to run interference and calm the waters in his wake.
But down deep, Steve was a bear cub at heart. He loved being a giver, even when he didn’t have the comfortable resources. One day at a restaurant in Houston, he was listening to a few waitresses berate the girl that was waiting on him because she had refused to work overtime in order to get her family to church that night.
This upset him and when he was ready to leave he stood up, and went to where they were all gathered, handed his waitress a fifty dollar bill and encouraged her to get her family to church. He said, “I just went outside and sat in my truck and cried.” The simplest acts of kindness spoke to his heart more than the grand ones.
Steve believed in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. And as a Baptist Pastor for nine years, he spent many hours in the pulpit proclaiming just that. He leaned heavily toward the old time “Hell Fire and Brimstone” preachers, and you would never catch him sugar coating or concocting a feel good sermon. Nope, he believed the message is too important to tamper with. So he always preached in his straightforward manner. One of his deacons told me one time, “You know what I like about Steve? You always know where you stand with him.”
Steve’s grandfather, Pastor M.J. Adkins from Tioga, Texas, was his inspiration for becoming a preacher. M.J. was originally known as the town drunk and downright mean person. Then he got right with The Lord and pastored for approximately fifteen years. Steve fondly remembered his grandfather and knew from an early age that he was also called to preach. He neglected that call for many years and regretted it. But the most fulfilling days of his life were standing in the pulpit and declaring the Truths of Scripture.
His favorite preacher was Charles Spurgeon. Steve was not an eloquent speaker by any means. He mostly prided himself in being a “red-neck.” But the sermons and prayers he would read that Spurgeon wrote would inspire him to new heights. He desired to speak like Spurgeon, with the eloquence and grace that he had. He even prayed, “Lord, if I could just pray like that, it would mean so much to me!” But it was not to be. He was from Texas…enough said.
Steve loved and honored his mother and father. He did everything that he could to help them and show his love for them. His dad passed away over twenty years ago and every morning he would call his mom and encourage her for the day. He told me the story many times of when he mowed his parents yard without any gasoline because there was a storm approaching, it had to get done and he asked God to help him. He said, “That mower didn’t sputter while I was mowing as fast as I could and praying all the while. When I finished, the mower died and the tank was as dry as a bone. I know that I didn’t have enough gas to mow that whole yard, but God did it!” As always, the small and seemingly insignificant was much more striking than the large and showy to Steve.
Steve spent the last few years of his life suffering from medical complications. He was on oxygen twenty-four hours a day and it was difficult watching his condition deteriorate. But he never wavered in his faith in Christ. He always had uplifting words when we would meet for a couple of hours each week. And he would never really complain about his condition. I knew his pain, but he would never let that dominate our conversations.
We all have our faults, and Steve Wade surely had his. But I believe we need more men like him. We need men that will stand on the Truth unashamedly and be ready to defend their faith when needed. We need men who love their families and make no excuses for their honest emotions and faith in God. We need men that will look to others’ needs and disregard their own comfort. We need men who can be relied on for friendship and loyalty and pointing their family and friends to the Truth of the Bible.
Our nation needs more Steve Wades and I am proud that I was his friend for 47 years.