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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

This morning my friend and mentor, Pastor Mark Franklin entered into the presence of the Savior whom He loved and faithfully served after an extended battle with cancer.  

God's Word tells us that "precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of saints" (Psalm 116:15) and certainly that is true.  The God of the Universe has surely welcomed Pastor Franklin home and has said unto him "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."  

However, in many ways, for believers, the death of even our saved loved ones is a bittersweet thing.  

There is a sweetness in the fact that the saved friend or loved one is now in the presence of Jesus Christ - with all the excitement, wonder and blessing that accompanies that truth.  In the case of those believers who have endured much suffering on this earth, that sweetness is even magnified by the fact that the suffering is now permanently gone.  

Yet, there is also a sorrow.  It is not a sorrow like the sorrow of those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13), but rather it is a sorrow of a loss - a loss of a friend, a mentor, or a loved one.  It is the sorrow of the changing of the relationship - we can no longer call them on the phone for encouragement and advice.  We can no longer look forward to the joking and the ribbing.  While we know that we will see them again, we realize that things will never be the same.

I am thankful that God allowed me to get to know and to serve under Pastor Franklin at Hardingville Bible Church.  I am thankful that when God had moved me on in ministry that Pastor Franklin was always only a phone call away for encouragement and advice.  I am thankful that Pastor Franklin was an example to me (and to many others) of what a man of God should be like.  I am thankful for his faithfulness in ministry, his stand for the truth, and much more than I can accurately put into words.   I am thankful, most of all, that Pastor Franklin counted me as a friend.  

I am sure that over the next few days, there will be much sadness - for our loss.  Yet, just as surely, there is much joy - for he is entered into the joy of the Lord.  

I am also sure that over the next few days there will be many memories shared.  While there are myriad memories that flood my own mind regarding Pastor Franklin, the most recent of these memories was last week.  As I have been in the process of entering into itinerant ministry, Pastor Franklin had offered to write a recommendation for me over a year ago.  With everything going on with his health, I had hesitated to bring it up, but in our conversation last week, it was mentioned - and sure enough in a matter of minutes I had a one-paragraph "blurb" that was vintage Pastor Franklin.  It was well-written, gracious, and well, memorable.  

I won't reproduce the whole thing here, but just point out the ending that made me chuckle as I read it.

... Frank is a good preacher and gets his point across with clarity and power.  I have been blessed the many times that I have heard him preach.  The Spirit of God and perhaps some Mountain Dew has given him endless energy to minister.              – Dr. Mark Franklin,  Hardingville Bible Church (italics supplied by Pastor Franklin).  

Unfortunately I did not call to see if he really wanted me to keep the "Mountain Dew" line in the recommendation when I put it up on the Sansone Family Ministries website, so I guess it stays.  

I thank the Lord for the influence and friendship of Pastor Mark Franklin.  Please join me in praying for his wife, Liz, the family and Hardingville Bible Church in the days ahead.  

Just my thoughts,

Frank Sansone

(P.S. - those of you who have read this blog in the past - when I actually used to use it as a blog - may remember that I posted A Tribute to Pastor Mark Franklin some years ago on the occasion of his 25th Anniversary as Pastor of Hardingville Bible Church.)