Posts tagged ultimate sacrifice

Heroes are just regular men

Heroes aren’t special men. Heroes are just regular men who respond to the needs of others in special times.

Nick Naylor became a hero on April 27, 2014. He and his family were pummeled by the high-end EF4 tornado that struck his Mayflower, Arkansas neighborhood that Sunday night. But rather than see himself as a victim, Nick went to work.

It wasn’t manly toughness but human compassion that compelled him to run from home to home, looking for survivors and rendering aid however he could.

When the father of five saw a young neighbor child who had been thrown into a yard 50 yards from her home, he thought of his own four girls and one boy. In all, he carried half a dozen people to be transported to receive medical care. Some of the victims were friends, but many were strangers. To him they were just people who needed to be helped, and he was available.

It doesn’t take a special kind of man to be a hero. Mostly, it just takes a man of compassion and integrity. A man who embraces a life committed to Christ already has all the qualities of a hero. He only needs opportunity, like the tornadoes that hit Mayflower, Arkansas and Louisville, Mississippi. He already considers the lives of others as important as his own. He recognizes in the midst of a crisis that he may very well have been put where he is “for such a time as this.” He is willing to reflect that greatest love of all, reflecting the greatest expression of love any man can show for another — to lay down his life.

I need to share two more stories of sacrifice from the tornado outbreaks of the past week. One is from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where scholar-athlete John Servati held up a falling wall long enough for his girlfriend to escape. The wall collapsed before he could get away, though, and the gifted swimmer later that night died from his injuries. Before Monday night, he was just known as a guy who was always ready to help others in whatever way he could.

The other story of sacrifice is from Louisville, Mississippi — the home town of several of my extended family members. In this video, the story is told from the perspective of the one who benefited from that sacrifice. Sixteen years ago, Coysheena Mitchell lost her mother to a tornado. On April 28, she thought she had lost her own daughter. She went to pick up four-year-old Ashtyn from daycare, but the building was gone. Searching through the rubble, rescuers found the little girl still alive, sheltered safely from debris by the lifeless body of Ruth Bennett, the daycare owner.

Both Ruth Bennett and John Servati were just regular people who put themselves in places where they felt they needed to be. And today we remember them as heroes.

His final sacrifice: Honoring Rob Tittle

final sacrifice for wife

Rob and Kerry

We lost a good man Sunday night. A godly man. Our co-worker Rob Tittle was doing what every real man does in a crisis — he was protecting his family first. His final sacrifice was simply a reflection of the way he lived his life.

Even before the tornado sirens sounded Sunday night in Central Arkansas, Rob and his wife Kerry were hustling their nine children to safety under an interior stairway of their home just west of Little Rock. Rob left to find his remaining two daughters when the massive funnel dropped from the sky onto their home. A wall collapsed, crushing Rob and killing him instantly. 20-year-old Tori and 14-year-old Rebekah were also killed, and four of the other children were taken to the hospital with injuries. Their home was wiped from its foundation.

final sacrifice for daughters

He dated his girls (here with Rebekah, Whitney, Emily).

But the foundation that Rob laid in his family will live on for generations.

final sacrifice for sons

He taught his boys how to work, and serve.

Rob’s passion for his wife and his family were a reflection of his passionate relationship with Jesus Christ. Before he served with Life Action Ministries and eventually served at FamilyLife, he served His Savior. When he met Kerry  the same passion for Christ showed in the way he loved and served her and, in the years to come, the way he nurtured and guided his children.

At work, Rob was the same. He was diligent and intentional, keeping lots of projects going at one time, but always working with a gracious attitude and cheerful disposition. Among co-workers, he didn’t shy away from admitting his own weaknesses and asking for prayer for himself, his wife and his children. He wanted to walk closely with his Lord, and wanted the same for his family.

final sacrifice Fathers Day

Made for Rob by his children last Father’s Day.

Rob has gone to be forever with the Lord he loved and served. But his influence will doubtlessly continue in the lives of his co-workers, his children and his wife, who saw the life that he modeled and how he laid it down in the end. Our prayer is that the way he lived and the way he died will give many men an example of how to live intentionally, courageously, and selflessly.

Still, the fact remains that the Tittle family needs prayers, as does another FamilyLife staff family. Another FamilyLife family, Dan and Kristen Gaffney, also lost their home in the tornado but thankfully were protected by their storm shelter. If you are interested in ways you can help these families in addition to prayer, contact us and we’ll let you know how you can meet their needs.

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