When I first heard that one of the 19 firefighters killed in the Yarnell tragedy was originally from MT (my home state), I found it interesting. Not a lot of people come from MT to live in AZ. But then a prayer request came through my church’s prayer chain that mentioned this guy, too. His family doesn’t live in Phoenix, or go to church at Shiloh, but somehow, there was a connection through another person, and through another and it ended up in our daily prayer request. I asked if I could share it, and was given the ok, so here it is:
This note is from Steve DeFord. Read how the Lord works in all ways in all times.
"Many of you may already be aware that the entire Granite Hotshot crew perished in the fire near Prescott. Our son Dustin was a member of that crew. Our hearts are filled with sorrow, but not without hope.
About a week ago Dustin had a rather unusual opportunity to share the gospel with most of the crew for about two hours during some down time. We believe that Dustin was there for this time. In Eternity we will get to meet any who may have called on the name of the Lord in those last moments. "
This intrigued me, so I looked up more information on Dustin DeFord, and found that his father, Steve, is the missionary pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ekalaka in MT and a long time member of IFCA International (Independent Fundamental Churches of America), which I hadn’t heard of before.
The Billings Gazette wrote about his family and mentioned a Facebook post that he had made, regarding how he found himself in AZ, when he would rather to have worked in Western MT: “My life is proof that God wants to use me — starting now.”
Despite enjoying his work as a firefighter (with his father and four of his brothers also being firefighters), his sister Becky said that he was interested in going into full time Christian service.
He had studied at Cornerstone Bible Institute in SD and had worked as a missionary, and frequently talked about his religious beliefs.
Regardless of what those 18 other firefighters may have thought, or what worldview they may have held to, they had time to contemplate the words that Dustin had given them a week earlier, prior to their tragic deaths.
In church this morning, one of the application questions was, “What legacy will you leave? What do you want on your epitaph?”
(in reference to the differences in King Ahaz [2 Kings 16:2-4], and his son Hezekiah in their leadership and the legacy each left behind). I had already begun writing this blog article, and that question fell right in with it. This is how I want to be remembered - doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
I feel that our country is under God’s judgment right now, as it draws closer to legalizing same sex marriage in all the states, calling it “equality and tolerance”, as our nation continues to kill unborn children, attempting to rationalize it as a “choice”, while our president says, “God bless Planned Parenthood” – the leading abortion provider in America (Isaiah 5:20). This is where we are as a country that has continued to reject God, His Laws, and even any mention of Him in public. We are under judgment and drawing ever closer to the time we will suffer the wrath of God.
Amidst all of this, Dustin DeFord was faithful, having witnessed to the people on his team just a week prior to this tragedy.
This is more difficult than it sounds. Only 2% of professed Christians in America share their faith.
Too many professed Christians today don’t know how to share their faith, they are too afraid, or simply don’t think it’s their responsibility, or maybe they are too worried about what others might think. Still others may not be true believers at all, but false converts, with fear or the worries of this world taking precedence over the Gospel (see the Parable of the Sower, Mark 4:1-19).
Also in our outline from church this morning:
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” - James 1:22-25
Many in this country hear the Word, but few actually act on it, very few are doers of the Word that they hear. This reminds me of another verse, about a wide and narrow path (Matt 7:13-14).
We have a small team that goes out to Mill Ave every Saturday night to witness to the lost, per the Great Commission (Acts 10:42, Matt 28:19-20, Mark 16:15). We also host free training courses in evangelism (the next one will be the last Saturday in August), for those who want to become equipped to be able to share their faith with others.
Be an obedient doer of the Word, not a hearer only. Don’t be like a man who looks in the mirror, turns around and forgets what he looks like.
How will you be remembered? How does God see you? Men like Dustin DeFord inspire me to continue doing what is right in the eyes of God, for every one of us will face Him one day and be held accountable for the thoughts, words and deeds that we have done on this earth. Be ready.
Soli Deo Gloria