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One of my Earliest Heroes

Just a few days ago, was the 7th anniversary of one of my earliest heroes' death.

I was just a wee lil' lad when I first heard of my cousin Randy and his expertise in the Asian martial arts. Randy had a passion for the martial arts and a discipline that led to mastery. throughout his life he made choices that were not the best, but in the end God got a hold of his heart and Randy again became one of my heroes as he battled for 5 years a heart defect, leading into lung problems, leading still into kidney failure. He never gave up, and through it all he gave credit to the Lord for his strength. I didn't have a lot of time to get to know Randy, but I treasure the time I had and I continue the legacy of Godliness and involvement in the martial arts that he in part inspired.

I wish that I had the elequance to put into words something that truly conveys my thoughts on Randy and the effect that he has had upon my life. For ever and always he shall remain as one of my earliest heroes. This is for you Randy ;)

When I was 5 years old, two very important events happened in my life. The first was that I heard the call upon my life to be saved. I understood that I was a sinner and as such not able to pay the penalty for my own wrongdoings. I needed a paladin, a stand-in, to do the work for me. Jesus was that warrior, yet knowing all of this I stood fast in my stubborn resistance to act upon what I knew for two reasons: fear of being in the public eye, and fear of water. Fear ruled my life for two long years of conviction and the struggle for my soul waged heavy upon my heart. Until the day came, December 4th, 1988, the last day of an outdoor tent revival. It was a Sunday, sun shining and warm. I could tell you what I wore and exactly where I sat that morning. The pastor preached, I don't know what he preached about because I was listening to a different voice - the voice of God. He was telling me that I would someday die and go to hell if I didn't go forward right then and submit my life to Him. I didn't wait any longer, I left my seat and came forward, with my father following me and with my pastor and my father I prayed to accept Christ in my heart as Lord of my life. That day changed my life forever, and I have never regretted it.

The other important event that happened to me at 5 was of a different nature. I fell in love. Not with a person, but with a thing, an art form. I saw for the first time in my life, martial arts demonstrated and I knew that I would someday do this thing. It consumed my mind, and yet I had no avenue of pursuing it - till I was 18 years old. That didn't stop me; I practiced what I could learn on my own and read anything I could get my hands on about the martial arts. And that is where Randy came into the story. He was a black belt already at that time, and my mom would tell me about this cousin I had named Randy who was really good at what he did. I had never met him, nor would I till I was nearly 20 years old, but his exploits and his passion inspired me as a young child to pursue my dream of learning the martial arts some day.

The day came, and I was given the opportunity to learn, but not until God made it clear to me that I was not given this chance for my own passion, but for His purpose. I was to use it to glorify His Name. A task that Randy eventually came to understand as well. You see, Randy eventually came to know God in the same role as I did, as Lord and Savior. And it was the strength of that relationship that gave Randy the ability to once again inspire me to be my best for my God. I remember, the moment I had wanted to experience for my whole life finally came...an opportunity to talk with Randy as a fellow martial artist and believer about our two most important passions. It was short, for at this time Randy was in a battle for his life. But it was good, and we connected quickly because we shared the same passions, first for God and second for the martial arts.

Now I am a second degree black sash, teaching as a ministry of my church, seeking to reach a group of people who might not otherwise be reached, and I look back to how I came here and the moments that shaped my life and I see Randy. Who knew? What a legacy?! And I am proud to bear it.

What kind of heroes have shaped your life? What kind of Legacy do you carry on?