Today, November 26, is my dad’s 89th birthday. His life is a testimony of strengthening grace.
John W. Rayhill was born under difficult circumstances, raised during the depression on a farm where he had to work hard and take care of what he had. He was a step-son and the oldest of ten children.
He attended a small country church in the Fairdale, Kentucky, area. The pastor’s wife took an interest in him when he was just a lad and invited him to play his simple instruments on Wednesday’s youth services. She loved him and encouraged him in a way he desperately needed.
Dad invited Jesus to be his Savior at 10 years old and served Him for the next 79 years. He taught a class of young boys in the 1950’s – 60’s that no one else could manage. He took them camping, made a simple movie of the prodigal son with them, invited them into his home, and saw the majority of them become fine Christian men. He served on church building committees and was the chief contractor for a large church in Louisville, taking a minimal salary during the process. He pastored a small church for a few years and has taken the pastoral role for people of other churches by loving, counseling, and praying for them through the years.
Dad married my mother in 1942 and thought he was the most blessed man alive, even until her death in 1983. He treated her like queen all those 41 years.
During World War II, he joined the Army as a conscientious objector, willing to serve his country but not wanting to carry a weapon. The Army didn’t quite know what to do with him, so they transferred him from base to base making it difficult for Dad to settle in and make any friends. He finally found a place as a medic and a cook, baking turkey dinners on Thanksgiving and cherry pies under battle conditions, for which he received an award.
My husband calls him“Pop.” Dad found a place in his heart for Bill long before we ever dated. My son, Travis, calls him “Gramps,” and he has been a role model of a strong yet gentle, godly man.
After mother’s death, dad married my step-mother, Esther, and has loved and taken care of her, prayed for her children and made her a part of our family.
He has been the best dad a little girl could have wanted, modeling a Christ-like character and making me feel like a princess. He still calls me his little girl and thinks I am wonderful. He is my cheerleader and president of my fan club.
Today he celebrates 89 years – a man after God’s heart, a servant who has ministered to a multitude, a teacher of the Word, a herald of the Lord’s second coming, a prayer warrior whose prayer lists are worn and tattered from his daily prayers and tears.
Dad will never see this on-line unless I show it to him. He is not computer savvy or a techie by any means. He is just a simple man who has loved abundantly and walked his journey thus far strengthened by grace. His is a life well-lived, and I am blessed to be his daughter.
Happy Birthday, Dad. May your life be fruitful for years to come. I love you!