I want to pay tribute to my Uncle Michael Campbell. All of us in the family come to call him Uncle Mike. It doesn’t matter how old or how young, everyone just called him Uncle Mike. When he came to church Bethel Temple of Praise and supported us, everyone here also called him Uncle Mike. So it goes to show you the character of the individual. I’m going to ask if you just follow me on the projector screen. His celebration of life is next weekend, Friday, June 5, and Saturday, June 6, 2021.
If you permit me for a few minutes, I just want to say thank you and pay tribute to him. I want to let you know the impact that he has on my life. I came to this country, immigrated here at the age of 1,7, and immediately hit it off. He took us into his home, took me into his home. His home was my home. Everyone went to his home for celebrations and family gatherings. Our two sons for 25 years have loved Thanksgiving because that was a whole weekend of Thanksgiving at Uncle Mike. And they will go from Thursday, and we’ll pick them up on Saturday. This went on until they were old enough to travel back home by themselves. They spent the time with all the cousins; sometimes 20, 30 people were in the house staying overnight. That’s the type of person he was. Uncle Mike was my best man at my wedding over 28 years ago, 29 years in August. He stood by my side through those early days of our marriage. He was always there, always supporting throughout that whole time.
When I started this church, Bethel Temple of Praise, I didn’t know how a pastor be. I was not a seminary graduate at the time. I was just a person who loves to serve. I just know how to do church. I just served. I asked three individuals to serve as my advisor on the Pastoral Prayer Team, Minister Godfrey, Deacon Mattis, and Uncle Mike. They were the ones who provide vital support and guidance during the early days of my pastorate. I could talk frankly with these men. When I’m up against the wall, and there were questions I had about specific issues, they were the ones that were there providing counsel. Uncle Mike always gave advice and support when he came to our church many times and preached and encouraged us. He even spoke at my pastoral appreciation and was here throughout the day. Uncle Mike was always supporting. Supporting in time, supporting in finances when no one else knew he was helping. He and his wife were supporting the ministry behind the scenes. I’m just so grateful to God for him.
When I graduated from college with my doctoral degree, he was right there. He was a member of my site team that was a group of individuals that helped provide insight and guidance throughout my studies. He was a crucial person in that arrangement. When I published my book, he was right there standing and just being supportive.
And the last thing that I remember was he took sick in 2017, and they diagnosed him. In 2018, when my mother-in-law passed away, Reverend Larmond. Afterward, we start reflecting on some pictures. It was then that we noticed that he was standing at the gravesite supporting my father-in-law all that time. We looked at the photos from the time of the funeral. In almost all the pictures at different spots, he was standing by my father-in-law, Deacon Larmond. He was supporting him and holding him up at the gravesite throughout the whole time.
When I say he was always there, I mean he was always there. My last conversation with him was just before we went on vacation. My wife and I were heading on vacation Thursday morning, and the Wednesday night, I had a few last-minute things I had to get done. I was on my way back home around seven o’clock to get ready for Bible study when I got word that he was in the hospital and asked for me. I made a U-turn. I called my wife and told her, “Tell the folks to carry on because I might not be there in Bible study.
I got to the hospital with about 20 minutes to spare because visiting time was coming to an end. I walked into that room, and my aunt says, “he was just asking about you.” “He was just asking. Did they tell you how serious the situation was?” As I walked into the room and sat there, he, his wife, and I reflected on the scripture in 1Peter 1 that tells us that our hope was in God. No matter what we might face in this life, we have this hope, a living hope. We Prayed. We reflected on the scripture. With confidence, we encouraged each other that our hope, despite what we feel or experience, despite what we’re going through, our hope was in God.
Two weeks later, I returned, and I sat in the room with Uncle Mike for over two hours, almost three hours. All I could get from him was a couple of syllables, nothing more. I thank God that I turned around that night and went back and had that conversation with him. The last words I heard from him that day two weeks later was, let’s pray. Two, three words were all he could say. We prayed. The last prayer we prayed was the Lord’s prayer. He remembered every word of it. When we stopped praying, he still prayed. I conclude this tribute with great assurance that my hope is in God. Our hope is in God that no matter what happened in this life, God is always there. I would say to you, brothers and sisters. Love on your family. Serve God. Love on your loved ones, because you’ll never know when the last time you will have a conversation with them. That’s my tribute to my uncle like a big brother; he was always there. I will see you again, Uncle Mike!
1 Peter 1:3-12 (NLT) The Hope of Eternal Life
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.
6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.
10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.
12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.