On yesterday afternoon, the Christian community of the Greater Greensboro and surrounding areas was hit with the devastating news of the death of Bishop Otis Lockett Sr. Bishop Lockett was the longtime pastor of Evangel Fellowship Church of God in Christ. To say he touched a lot of lives would be a gross understatement.
I received the news while at work via a voice message from my mom. I then proceeded to call my sister to alert her of the news.
When I first heard the opening lines of my mom’s message, I immediately thought she was about to tell me that my grandfather had passed away. He has battled an assortment of physical ailments over the last several months and we were just down to see him on last Sunday for our annual family reunion. Plus there is always that strange coincidence I’ve heard of people spending time with a loved one shortly before they pass. I will admit that I was shocked by the news. I knew he had been sick, but I didn’t know to what extent. Just like in any good movie, I expected him to beat the bad guy (cancer) and come out on top for a happy ending.
He had been fighting cancer for quite some time and I’ve learned enough about cancer to know that it’s a very swift and unfair disease. I can’t imagine the physical toll it took on him over these last few months. As my mom and I were discussing the news last night, she said a line that pretty much summed up the situation from a physical perspective. She said his spirit was likely as strong as ever, but his body was just weak from the toll the cancer had taken on him. He had a form of leukemia.
My own pastor, who was like a spiritual son to Bishop Lockett, had attended his pastoral anniversary service this past summer and always encouraged our congregation to keep him in our prayers. Apparently, he was not looking too good and I do remember him telling us that he regularly used an oxygen machine. I’m sure it was difficult for the members of his congregation, friends and family members to watch what he had to endure over the past couple of years.
This ordeal has given me a greater thirst to actually go out and become more knowledgeable about the various types of cancer and their causes. Immediately after talking to my sister, I went back into my cubicle at work and began to research some different forms of cancer on the internet. I even looked at some pictures taken from the autopsies of various cancer victims so that I could examine the tumors. It was not a pretty sight.
On a personal note, his passing is extremely significant for many reasons. The man was a pillar of the Christian community-at-large in the Triad area and I can’t even begin to give a numerical estimation of the amount of people who came to accept Jesus Christ into their lives via his ministry. Evangel was established in the late 80s and so many of the people that have played a pivotal role in my life came through his ministry, including my own parents. In an indirect kind of way, the actions of Bishop Lockett set the course for much of what has transpired in my life. Our family attended Evangel from the late 80s through 1996 when we moved to Reidsville. My current pastor came from Evangel as well. The same can be said for many of my current church members. My pastor’s preaching style was heavily influenced by the things he learned while serving under Lockett. If my family had never met Bishop Lockett then there is a strong chance that I would’ve missed out on meeting a huge chunk of the significant people in the last 17 years of my life.
For example, my best friend from college was someone I met due to the fact our families attended Evangel when we were really young. I had no idea who she was when I was reintroduced to her during freshman orientation, but we hit it off from day one and I can honestly say she is on the short list of people I consider a true friend. There have been a staggering number of similar stories I’ve read on Facebook from people my age and older who credit Lockett’s teachings with changing their lives. I even had no idea he impacted so many people (particularly those I attended college with at North Carolina A&T State University). My last time seeing him in person was two years ago at A&T’s fall commencement. My mom and I had bumped into him and his wife and he told me how proud he was of the work I was doing there (it was during the period I was a staff writer for the school).
It’s really strange when you think about things through that kind of perspective. It also goes to show you how true it is that the actions of one man can literally change destinies of thousands of people.
Bishop Lockett is gone, but there is no doubt his legacy is as strong as ever and will live on eternally. While his passing would have to rank as the most tragic news I’ve heard this year, I am glad that the years of constant pain and treatment (I’ve heard chemotherapy is a monster) are over. He’s rejoicing with the angels in heaven and he can take pride in knowing that he accomplished his mission on earth to the utmost of his abilities. Though Evangel will continue, his loss will create a void that will never be adequately filled.
For any bloggers out there who enjoy the stuff you read up here, I have a favor to request of you. It may seem redundant, as it is a common thing to do following a person’s death, but I would like for anyone reading this to please send up a prayer of comfort and strength for Bishop Lockett’s family. He leaves behind a beautiful wife, Barbara Lockett, and three awesome children, Otis Jr., Joshua and Faith-Lockett Gardner. I cannot even imagine the pain they must be experiencing, but I do know beyond the shadow of a doubt they would appreciate your prayers.
Here is a link to Evangel’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Power-CenterEvangel-Fellowship/219483210304?sk=info#!/pages/The-Power-CenterEvangel-Fellowship/219483210304?fref=ts, and a video clip from one of his sermons to give you a taste of his biblically-based preaching style, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Wpm3YBe6o0.
Rest well Bishop. Your work is done!