After the birth of our daughter, we received cards and congratulations from so many gracious people. They came in addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Dowell, the Dowell family and sometimes even to Miss Libby Dowell. But the letter I’m remembering today was the only one addressed “Mark and David Dowell.”
Written the day after her birth, this letter arrived full of congratulations and excitement over Libby’s birth. But rather than focus solely on her arrival, this letter explained how Libby was going to have exciting times with the boys. It encouraged them that little sisters like big brothers, and as big brothers they could teach her lots of things. The letter went on to talk about Joye and Jeff and the special relationship they shared. How they had little arguments sometimes, but that they were important to each other and how nice this would be for Libby. This letter encouraged our sons to pray for Libby and pray for their mom and dad. It told our boys that God made them, He made Libby and that everything God makes is special.
We were surprised by this letter? Yes. Amazed by this letter? No, because, my boys had Wayne Johnson as a part of their life. He baptized both of them. He was their director, he was a role model to them and he was their pastor. The arrival of a baby sister was a big deal for them, so it was worth being addressed by “Mr. Wayne.” But what kind of man takes the time to do things like that? Wayne did.
As the director of The Light, Wayne not only led our ragtag band of troupers in telling the story of Christ every year, but he pastored our group. He taught us from the Bible, he prayed with us over our concerns, he visited the hospital and he rejoiced when new babies came.
How do we remember this kind of man?
I will remember him when I see middle schoolers bouncing up and down shouting, “Mr. Dowell, Mr. Dowell!” and watch as David responds with patience and compassion to his theatre students. I will be reminded where he first learned and observed those qualities in a director sitting through hours of rehearsals in The Light. I will think about the days I was so grateful to have a teenage son whose biggest hero was not a movie star, but a pastor. I will remember Wayne.
I will remember him when I see Mark produce content under his band label of “I Like Wolves,” smiling at the memory of the man who laughed loudest and longest when Mark first uttered that phrase as a six year old slating to audition for the Light. I will remember Wayne.
I will remember him when Libby performs knowing that he was the first director to ever cast her, before she was even two months old. He had quite the good time giving her notes for changing her previously silent role to a speaking part when she screamed into Irma’s microphone. I will remember Wayne.
I will remember him when I speak the word of God out loud to the pressing needs of my life. Those rehearsals where he taught us that the word of God has unexplainable power when spoken out loud left their mark. I will remember Wayne.
I will remember him in the gift of so many incredibly significant friendships that have impacted my life and lasted long beyond our days together in the Light. Jan Bowlin and her family, Shauna Bartel and her family, Barbara Hawxwell, Bey Christian and her family in England, Roger and Lynda and their family in Wales and so many others – they are all gifts his leadership in the Light gave to me. I will remember Wayne.
Thank you to Carol, Jeff and Joye for sharing your husband and father with us for all those years. We have not forgotten him or you, for the impact of his life lives on for so many of us.
What kind of man makes such an impact? I imagine if you had asked Wayne that question, he might have said an ordinary man. The difference, for all of us, was that he loved and served an extraordinary God.