By Lanette Stratton
Steve’s life was impactful and weighty and sank down deeply into the lives of those he encountered.
We were married for 40 years. He was a great man, but he was not a perfect man. He was an ordinary man that lived an extraordinary life and left a LEGACY that continues to this day.
The thing that transformed his ordinary life into an EXTRAORDINARY life and turned his life’s work into a LEGACY, was his vision statement. His vision statement was well-defined and brief. It brought clarity as he daily separated the GOOD things to do from the BEST things to do, and it has continued beyond his lifetime. His vision statement was “I will change the world for Christ one person at a time.”
Steve’s vision statement was not at all about himself or the things this world offers, but about the God he served. It’s amazing what our lives can accomplish when we don’t care who gets the credit. His eyes were not set on earthly things, but on a higher calling and a greater purpose. The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” His vision statement reached into his professional relationships to make the very best financial plan that he could for his clients. He ALWAYS did what was best for the client. Steve disregarded product incentives and put together the best combination of professional services to meet each client’s needs. He never settled for the “GOOD” but chose the “BEST.” His gaze was fixed on running the race of life with focus on the high calling that God had for his life through Jesus Christ.
He started nine churches in the DFW area and pastored three of them. He taught Sunday School, started Bible studies, worked with Vietnamese refugees, coached baseball. He helped the homeless and poor get food, job interviews and places to live. He led groups of Americans into countries all over the world through an organization called International Commission, whose purpose is to go into foreign countries and share how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Twenty years ago, Steve started a ministry of evangelism and discipleship in Peru. God continued to open doors for us as a family to go all over the country of Peru – into the mountain highlands, deep into the jungle and into the city of Lima. We worked through pastors and churches there to share the good news of Jesus Christ and to make disciples. Our whole family went back year after year, starting new work in different areas of the country and going back to follow up with churches we had worked with in the past to help them and encourage them.
Steve always said that if he started a church, he would call it The Greater Works Baptist Church, based on the scripture from the gospel of John when Jesus told his disciples that he must die on the cross and go to heaven to be with His Father, but God would send the Holy Spirit. And, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each of them and in all believers, they would do greater work than He (Jesus) had done. John 14:12. “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even GREATER things than these, because I am going to the Father.” Jesus didn’t mean BETTER work; He meant MORE work. I am pleased to announce that on the second anniversary of Steve’s death, almost to the day, the Greater Works Baptist Church had its beginning. Steve died on March 24, 2017. The church officially had its beginning on March 27, 2019.
One of Steve’s tag lines was, “Work smarter.” He packed as much as he could into each day – professionally, in the community and into our work in Peru. Over the course of 20 years, he made disciples in the work of national-to-national crusades. One man in particular, Elias Ramos, who served as Steve’s interpreter, became a close friend and diligent student to do the work of crusades and follow up for the purpose of making disciples. He continues as ministry manager to the work that we as a family continue. Hebrews 12:12 speaks about clearing a path so that others can follow even though they may be lame or crippled.
That is what Steve did. He stayed focused to the work that God called him to do and made a wide, smooth, well-defined path for us to follow. Before he died, he told me that I HAD to continue to work we were doing in Peru. I didn’t see how I could possibly do that, but I told him that I was willing. God would just have to make a way – and He did. Our son stepped right into the spot his father left, and Elias stepped up as our South American coordinator. Together we have forged ahead.
Steve was deliberate and persistent – that combination of strong desire and will power. It is the capacity to continue on course in the face of difficulties, obstacles and discouragement and refuse to give up. He planned carefully and worked hard to have as much scriptural knowledge as he could. He set goals. He always said that the difference between a wish and a goal is A DATE. Then he made a plan and worked the plan. He was disciplined and obedient to the Lord to do THE NEXT THING. That is what our days are made up of, aren’t they? Of doing the next thing, whatever that NEXT THING is to do – ordinary things, everyday choices, seemingly small things.
However, the accumulation of small things is NO SMALL THING. In spite of difficulty, discouragement, the absolute absence of prospects to see, cancer, excruciating pain, deteriorating health, pneumonia, dangers in foreign countries from governments, dangers from avalanches, floods, lost in the jungle on the Amazon river, dangers from the drug cartel, dangers from the Shining Light Terrorists, financial crises, family crises, Steve persevered. His face was set like flint on fulfilling the vision God gave him for his life – to reach the world for Christ one person at a time.