Daddy: Presenting a living sacrifice

Published 9:39 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2015

By Tonya S. Swindell

Daddy was a big man who used his huge heart and hands to serve his family, church, school and community.

As his only daughter, I was about 5 years old when I climbed into his lap and secretly whispered everything we had bought him for Christmas that year. When he opened his presents on Christmas Day, we slyly winked at each other.

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He baptized and presented me with my first Bible when I was 11 years old. As I matured, we enjoyed discussing sermons he delivered as pastor of a historic African-American church that has “No Cross, No Crown” as its motto and, “The church where the Spirit of God dwells within the hearts of His people,” as its theme.

Whenever possible, he drove several hours to manage the affairs of his sister and aging parents who were in nursing homes or visited me, my brother and our children.

Early in his career, Daddy was a football coach and social studies teacher. Eventually he taught driver’s education to thousands of students before attending graduate school to become a school administrator, all while continuing his pastoral duties.

Whenever he walked into a store or restaurant, people from all walks of life called his name loudly but respectfully, kind of like people did on the ‘80s sitcom “Cheers” whenever the friendly character named “Norm” entered the room.

A friend shared that Daddy had once said, “I have two ears and one mouth so I try to listen twice as much as I speak.” His actions spoke when he prayed for his family and friends during slow and steady walks throughout his neighborhood.

On April 15, 2012, Daddy preached two sermons — one for the morning service, “A Mess Up in the Set Up,” and another for the evening service, “God is Able.” Although his speech slurred while he preached, he refused to stop until the benediction was read.

Immediately after service, a friend accompanied him and Mama to the emergency room so he could be seen by a doctor. Since Daddy was talking and alert, our friend jokingly asked him if he finished his sermons that day. Daddy replied, “Yep. I finished, and it is finished.”

When I talked to him on the phone I told him to listen to his doctors and that I loved him. As usual, he ended our conversation by saying, “Remember we love you.” He died the next day.

Daddy presented his body a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God (Romans 12:1). He was humble, friendly and loving to his family, church, school and community. He loved God, himself and others and showed that by his actions.

Daddy set a strong example for me to follow and I want to continue his legacy.

Tonya writes a blog for and a teacher for Kingdom Building Equipping School ( She can be reached at