Monday, January 14, 2013

Saying Good-bye to Henry!

1987 Summer Mission Trip- Colt's Neck, NJ- Henry Tyson, front row far right

Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
Can't believe the hopes He's granted
Means a chapter in your life is through

I said good-bye tonight to a very important person in my life.  It was a nice reception in which the City of Fitzgerald honored its recently retired City Administrator.  Henry Tyson faithfully served as a public servant for the past 17 years.  He was a leader among his community and Fitzgerald is a better place because of him.  However, this is not the reason that I hold Henry Tyson in a special place in my heart.  Before Henry became a public servant, he was my Youth pastor at First Baptist Church and helped shape me into the man that I am today.

But we'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

Henry, his wife and two daughters moved to Fitzgerald in 1981.  I was nine years old when Henry became youth leader and Minister of Music at First Baptist.  He was a young man at that time and brought tremendous energy to the position.  You could often spot Henry chasing squirrels across the FBC campus as he made his way from his office to the sanctuary to work on some new music.  His attitude and enthusiasm was contagious.  So was his love for the Lord and his willingness to minister to those in his new home town as well as to those all over the country.  He wanted you to be a part of our church and the things that we were doing and he wasn't afraid to let you know that.  On Tuesday nights he would load up a group of young people and go knocking on doors of folks who had been visiting the church.  I can tell you that people are shocked when you show up at their house unannounced with a bus load of teenagers, but it got the job done.  Our church grew with Henry Tyson there.

With the faith and love God's given
Springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy you'll live in
Is the strength that now you show
 The youth of First Baptist Church loved Henry Tyson!  There was never a trip that Henry would not make with a bus load of teenagers, no matter the destination.  I have been all up and down the East Coast with Henry serving the Lord through missions, while also having the times of my life!  The annual Youth Mission trip was a two week affair.  We worked the first week and played the next.  Our work consisted of performing concerts and encouraging the start up of new churches.  Our play included trips to The Statue of Liberty, The Baseball Hall of Fame, The Liberty Bell, Washington, DC (including one 4th of July firework show at the Washington Monument), and Banner Elk North Carolina where I have been mountain climbing, hiking, rafting, caving, repelling, and snow skiing with the guys at Edge of the World Outfitters. I have so many great memories of my day's in Henry's youth group that I cannot begin to count them all.

But we'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

Henry gave me my voice.  I sang in church as a young child, but as most young teenage jocks tend to do, I ventured away from my singing.  Henry wouldn't allow it.  He was always there encouraging me to use the talents that God had given me.  He was constantly putting me in a position to challenge my vocal limits by giving me solos in the church's biggest productions.  I was just a kid, but Henry made me feel like one of the Three Tenors!  He would never let me doubt my voice.  Henry left our church as I was leaving for college to help start a church of his own, so he has not gotten to hear me sing and mature as a vocalist over the past several years.  Today I sing for the Lord and my church, but a part of me will always sing for Henry. I am so glad that he got to hear me sing just recently at a friend's funeral.  The last time I will sing before he leaves town.

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
'Cause the welcome will not end

I said good-bye to Henry tonight.  His life has brought him full circle as he returns home to take care of the family farm and his aging parents in North Georgia.  I owe him so much and feel that I never had the opportunity to make him fully aware of how much he meant to me.  He was there with me the day my sister died and he preached her funeral.  I can still hear his voice as he was telling us that he imagined her conversation with Jesus was one of concern for us, but "could she go and try out her new wings?"  It was a fitting tribute to a magical little girl and just another gift that Henry gave to me and my family.  Something that I will never forget!

Though it's hard to let you go
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long to live as Friends!

God speed Henry!  I will miss you!


CHERI said...

Trey, out of all the things you've written through the years (even your tiger story), I feel this is the BEST. I hope Henry reads it and appreciates it...and I'm sure he will. I am SO proud of the man you have become and Henry is definitely a part of that. He will always hold a special place in my heart too...and I will always see a small part of him in you. I love you.

Jan said...

This is such a beautiful tribute Trey! You really have a way with words and I know that Henry has a very special place in his heart for you as well as all of the other people that he has touched while in Fitzgerald! So proud of you!

Steve said...


What makes small towns in America great are people like Henry, and the people like you that they leave behind carrying on their work.

Thank you.

Steve said...

Did you send me an email recently? I received one but there is a funny looking attachment. Just wondering.


Michael Ruffin said...

A marvelous tribute to a good man. Thank you for sharing about your love for my friend Henry...