Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Saturday, January 21, 2012

RIP Vance "Pig" Dotson: 1968-2012

A year ago today we held Amanda's funeral. It was a Friday last year and we scheduled the visitation and the service back-to-back starting at 5:00 that evening. The church was packed, more than 800 people stopped by. We were overwhelmed to see the number of lives her life and her death impacted.

Today we attended another funeral, on the anniversary of Amanda's. This one was for a dear friend, Vance Edward "Pig" Dotson. Vance graduated with me from North Little Rock Northeast High School in 1986. He played football with us, a real leader on the team. He worked as a guard in the state prison for a while, then began working security at North Little Rock High School-East Campus. He made a real difference everywhere he went.

Last night at his wake, a lady who worked with him at the prison stood up to tell how Vance used to sing gospel songs and spread the Good News of Jesus to the inmates. His brother Lamont, in Vance's eulogy, told about hearing Vance preach a sermon once. He said he asked Vance some time later, "When are you going to preach again?" Pig replied, "I tell those inmates about Jesus everyday. I don't need a pulpit to preach."

A young girl also spoke up at his wake to tell how important Vance was in her life. She was a member of the Positive Results Production Step Team he founded in an effort to impact kids' lives. This young lady told how "Mr. Dotson was always there" for her. She said, "When my Momma was on drugs and couldn't take care of me, Mr. Dotson was there." Vance had told me several times, when we'd get together or were just talking on the phone, about his step team and his other efforts to keep kids off the street. He did more than just take them off the streets though. He used the time he had with them to teach them how to succeed, how to escape the seemingly endless cycle of poverty and violence so many get trapped in. He was a real difference maker.

Jesus said God's greatest commandment was to love the Lord our God with all your heart. The second was to love your neighbor. Vance was a living example of how to demonstrate a true love of God by loving others. Lamont said that Vance didn't seem to care to have the best things in life. Instead, he spent his money and his time serving people.

Even today, at his funeral, he made another big impact on me. This time it was through a song performed by his nephews, a song they said he sang often. I'd never heard it before, but now it's going to be a sort of theme song for me. The message in the lyrics of "Running for My Life" felt like they came straight from God today. It felt like He was telling me, "You're right where I want you to be, doing exactly what I want you to do." Here's the song:

So I have to say thank you to my old friend, Vance Dotson. Thank you for the life you lived, for the friend you were, and for the difference you made. You lived your life making a difference and you will never be forgotten.

Rest easy my dear friend. You will be greatly missed down here, but we'll join you again one day.

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

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