COLUMN: Are we unashamed Christians?

Published 6:45 am Wednesday, January 10, 2024

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By Jimmy Howell
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This is the time of year that many people think it is a good idea to make some new year’s resolutions; concerning things like, losing weight, play more golf, work harder, save more money etc. All of us certainly need to make some beneficial changes to the way we live, but let me chronicle just two instances of Christian bravery and steadfastness that I have witnessed in my time and see if it doesn’t awaken in you, some “I wish I had—“ moments. Some time when you could have made a real difference in a situation, for the good. A time when you could have strengthened a struggling new Believer, a time when you could have been a beacon of hope in a challenging and chaotic world. Hear me out and ponder a while as I tell you the incidents that I will never forget. They involve two men, who were good friends of mine and are now gone on to their heavenly reward.

Years ago, when I was farming, chemical companies and feed companies would host their farmer customers, to a dinner at the Country Club or American Legion Hall, or someplace that could hold a large group of people. The Airway Restaurant was a good place for such functions back then and the owner, Mike Sergedes was always a perfect host. It was customary for the group to have a prayer to bless those assembled and the food that we were about to consume. Sometimes a person from the sponsoring company would give the blessing. At other times, especially when the local Feed Store Southampton Supply, was hosting, Herman Eley, the manager, would invite someone in the audience to give thanks. Herman would actually call on a person, by name. On this particular night that I remember so well, Herman had called on about three or four and all had begged to be excused. It was a bit embarrassing. And then he called on my friend, Steve Fekete, a farmer from the Sedley area. Steve stood up , looked around at all of us and said,” I will never try to avoid any opportunity that I have to give thanks for all the many blessings that God has bestowed on me and you alike.” He went on and, in a simple and honest, from the heart manner, gave one of the most inspiring prayers that I had ever heard. When he finished and sat down, you could have heard a pin drop. We had all been adequately reprimanded for our lack of courage to proclaim the love of God. As long as I live I will never forget that night.

The other person that I remember is “Buddy” Butler. Buddy was one of my best fishing buddies, always pleasant and cheerful; he and Terry Harrell were always ready and helpful in handling the boat. Both are now with God in heaven. I had a 22 foot Grady White boat that we fished the Chesapeake Bay in, and during hunting season we hunted together. Most people, at the time, did not know “Buddy” had a bad heart. It gave out on him one fall morning as he was dragging a buck he had killed, to the truck. As most of you know, when a group of young men gather at the clubhouse, there will be some who have a few too many, some will be a bit profane, all will be loud and boisterous. In all that uproar, when it came time to eat, “Buddy” Butler would say” All right now! Quiet down, we are going to have the blessing.” The noise would quiet down and “Buddy” would give the blessing unashamedly. Oh, I wish we had more men like that. Maybe it could start with me. Maybe all of us could learn something from Steve and “Buddy.” That would be a really good new year’s resolution.

Jimmy Howell is a native of Southampton County. He can be reached via email at