Kevin Eskew, pastor of First General Baptist Church in Bloomfield, was so much to so many people.
Following surgery to remove a tumor from his pituitary gland, Kevin developed meningitis. As his condition deteriorated, following a few glimmers of hope, he then had a series of strokes that finally took his life.
He left the world in no pain surrounded by his loved ones and friends.
To me, and countless others, Kevin was so much more than my pastor.
Long before I ever became a Christian, Kevin was there for me. When I was young and angry at God, with no desire to come to a true understanding of faith, he was there for me.
Even when I made poor decisions he stood by my side -- always supporting me, but not hesitating to tell me when I had gone the wrong direction.
Over the last 12 years, Kevin has guided me through everything in life and helped to keep my focus on God.
If anyone in my family had surgery, illness or any problem for that matter, Kevin was there. It didn't matter if they were a Christian or whether they went to our church. If a person was important to someone he knew, they mattered to him.
He's prayed with us, cried with us, smiled with us and laughed with us.
Any time you needed Kevin, he made time.
The sacrifices his wife, Becky, and children, Tonya and Tim, have made through the years on behalf of the congregation are far beyond noble. I'm so grateful for the little bit of Kevin they shared with me.
Kevin was so proud of his family. Rarely would a trip to his office not involve at least a brief reference to his gorgeous granddaughters, Sierra and Alexis.
When I think about how much he loved those little girls I always remember a story he told one evening in our Wednesday night Bible study class.
He came in one night in a brown suit. It was pretty sharp. Kevin, being a self-confessed frugal man, began telling us of all of the discounts on the suit throughout the sale, combined with a gift card and how his final purchasing price was a whopping $7. We all laughed and joked with him.
This same man, who was so proud of his very nice $7 suit, would have bought those two little granddaughters a Ferrari if they had asked for it. They thought he hung the moon, and he thought the same.
Kevin shared an honest love for everyone who ever crossed his path.
In John 13:34-35, the Bible states, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
He really took that message to heart and anyone who had the privilege of knowing him could see that almost immediately.
Throughout the past two weeks, the outpouring of faith and love from the community and area churches has been like nothing I've ever witnessed.
When our church held a prayer service for Kevin Saturday evening many people turned out, including pastors from area churches. I've even found out that on Sunday morning at least nine different churches of all faiths had special prayer for Kevin.
It didn't matter if it was a General Baptist church, Methodist, Assembly of God, Pentecostal or any other type of church. In the end, after all of the petty differences, they are all churches of God. Kevin was a man of God.
He was a walking, talking billboard for Christianity. He didn't just preach God's Word - he lived it like no man I've ever known.
I smile in knowing that Kevin is now with Jesus. I can just see his smile and tears of joy as he receives his reward for his hard work here with us.
I won't say goodbye because I believe we'll meet up again someday. So, farewell for now to one of the greatest men I've had the privilege of knowing. Your mark on this world stretched so much farther than you ever knew.