I remember watching him stand in front of the church and lead the other deacons in the morning devotion. He would sing songs that probably dated back before my mother was even born. I was in elementary school at the time. However, not too long ago, I got the privilege of standing up with the deacons on Sunday morning in my grandparent’s church because I was asked to read the opening scripture. Let’s just say that was straight comedy! I had on my suit and I was probably at least thirty or forty years younger than the other deacons I stood with. I didn’t know the words to the songs… My family sat out in the congregation and tried to hide their laughter. But despite the hilarity of that situation, my granduncle’s way of doing devotion was completely AUTHENTIC. It was the kind of devotion that caused him to hardly ever miss a church service on Sunday mornings and to always be dressed to a tee every time he entered the sanctuary. The kind of devotion that caused him to love on others when it hurt and when that love wasn’t returned to him. It was the kind of devotion that allowed Jesus to TRULY be LORD over his life. So during devotion when he would belt out those strong minor chord notes, and even at times when I couldn’t understand his words; I knew it came from a heart of pure devotion.
My granduncle Unis Allen entered into eternal glory January 5th of this year. I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, but all I heard was that everyone talked about how much he loved Jesus Christ. Even with my limited contact with him in my adult years, one thing I know is that holiness was a big deal to him. He modeled a godly life in front of everyone who was around him and he treated everybody with the utmost respect. Truly, an ideal model of what it means to be a gentleman. Every time that I have ever hugged him, it always felt fatherly. Along with the firm hug, I could always smell his cologne and would notice the jovial smile that seemed to be almost permanently etched across his face. But aside from all of this, the thing that I will remember about him the most is simply the life he lived.
(Unis Allen on the right and my grandfather Benjamin Allen on the left)
Uncle Unis (or UA) was a deacon at Morningstar Baptist Church probably longer than I’ve been alive. He also sang in an all-male singing group called “The Golden Gospelaires.” I wonder if he is now donning one of his suits up in the heavenlies and singing some new version of the devotionals he used to do in church, only now before the very throne of God. I can imagine that he is overwhelmed by the outer-world, eternal reality in which he now resides. The secret or dormant pain he concealed as he chose to not grow weary in well doing during his time on the earth; has now been replaced with a completely tangible experience of the love and mercy of the Father. His faith has rewarded him well, and I imagine that his mansion up there is probably off da chain! (smile)
So even though my granduncle has departed from this life, he left an indelible imprint behind. An imprint that spells the letters L-O-V-E. An imprint that will always make me smile whenever he crosses my mind. An imprint that is actually a blueprint for obtaining everlasting life. I hope and pray that my family will honor his legacy by becoming true followers of Christ. Not simply “cultural Christians” who show up in church on Sundays and maybe some Wednesdays. We can honor his legacy by not living lives that are full of compromise, and be doers and not just hearers of the Word. Proverbs 13:22 states “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.” While my Uncle Unis may not have left some large fortune, he left the legacy that matters the most: Exemplifying and extending the love of Jesus Christ to all of those around him. That is the best inheritance that anyone can leave behind. May our next generation do the same for the future generations to come.