When a Hero Dies


In the last two weeks there have been two heroes whom I’ve known who passed from this life into glory – Steve Hill, the evangelist who led the Brownsville Revival and Brady Clark, a trusted friend and comrade. Steve fought a long and courageous fight against cancer and lost. A month ago Brady suffered multiple heart attacks, looked to be on the mend, but his organs simply could not recover from the incredible trauma and he also passed. I knew Brady much better than I knew Steve, but I knew neither of them as well as I would have liked. Each were heroes in their own right…One well known, one not as much. A hero is by definition: ‘One who is admired for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.’ Those who live godly in this present wicked age are heroic in their faith and admirable for their courage. Any who finish their course faithfully are heroes in my book. Both of these men exemplify the definition of a hero. And both left a wake of influence that will continue to compel people into the the kingdom for decades.

I remember the first time I watched a video of the Brownsville Revival. Steve was leading a baptismal service. Those being baptized testified of the dramatic change that Jesus had made in their lives. Many had come out of lifestyles of drugs and addiction and were now set free. As they went into the baptismal pool several of them looked like they were being struck by electricity, shaking violently as they were baptized. I had never seen anything like it. And there was Steve Hill on the platform, giving glory to Jesus for the RADICAL change He had made in their lives. “Sweet Jesus! Sweet Jesus!” I knew I had to go and check out the revival and immediately made plans to visit. Those visits would change my life.

I’d never heard a preacher preach such a powerful salvation message. Steve boldly compelled the masses to give their lives fully to Jesus. “Friend, You can go to hell in a choir robe! You can go to hell holding your church membership card! You can go to hell with baptismal waters on your face! I’m not asking if you know about Jesus, Do you KNOW HIM! Do you wake up in the morning with Jesus on your heart? Do you go to bed at night with Jesus on your heart? Do you eat, drink, sleep, breathe Jesus? If not I question your salvation!”

His appeals were the boldest, most passionate, in your face, intense appeals I’d ever heard. And when He called people to come to Jesus, they literally ran to the altar by the hundreds. The whole seen was shocking to the senses.

After the service during the ministry time Steve and others would pray for God to fill people with the power of the Holy Spirit. Steve prayed for me that first visit and the only way to describe it was I felt like I got struck by lightning. The power of God literally shot down my body and coursed through me with a distinct heat and jolt. It didn’t hurt, but it did leave a mark. Those were life changing days.

Steve would go on to lead hundreds of thousands of people to the Lord through the meetings at the Brownsville Revival. Untold millions were impacted by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that God started through Steve’s visit to that Assembly of God Church on Father’s Day 1995. My life was dramatically changed. That revival gave me a firsthand taste of what it can look like when God comes down. I’m grateful for Steve Hill’s life and ministry. Much of my passion for revival was shaped and formed in those early days at Brownsville.

My Friend Brady was also a preacher, but not nearly as well known. The last decade of his life He spent bi-vocationally doing ministry and contracting work. He was literally building churches physically and spiritually. Most recently He was part of the leadership team of Classic City Church in Athens, Ga. A church that bloomed to over a thousand in just a few years, no doubt partially due to his labors.

My relationship with Brady was one of the most unusual relationships I’ve ever had. Have you ever had a friend who always treated you better than you treated them? Who always called you first? Always remembered your important details? Always took genuine interest in everything about you and almost never asked for anything in return? That was Brady.

Brady exposed my cynicism. I remember the time I asked him, “Why are you taking such interest in me? Is there something you want from me?” He just smiled and humbly said, “No, not at all. I just want to be a friend to you and an encouragement in your life.”

At his funeral I was extremely surprised to hear that this was Brady’s relationship with virtually every person in the room. He spent his life loving well. He gave more than He took, offered more than he asked, and encouraged everyone along the way. Hundreds of friends and family gathered together to celebrate His life and we all left desirous to be more like him and more like Jesus.

Both of these men were heroes but in far different ways. One was catapulted into the spotlight of the largest revival the U.S. has seen in the last century, the other faithfully tending the field the Lord had given him. Both leaving a legacy that continues to impact and inspire people. Both were heroes. Which brings me to my main points:

1) Being a hero isn’t about being epic or hitting it big, it’s about being faithful in the field the Lord has called you. The size of your sphere isn’t up to you, it’s up to the Lord. Neither Brady nor Steve chose their sphere…God chose it. Your legacy is a product of your faithfulness. Faithfulness is the key to your impact. If you are faithful to God’s calling, He will use your faithfulness to make the impact He desires. Those who make an impact are hero’s in His Kingdom, notable for character and courage. Be faithful and you’ll be a hero.

2) When a hero dies there is a silent cry for other heroes to arise. It’s like the voice of their history beckons us to embrace their best qualities and live heroically in our day. Their memory echoes to us, probing us, “Will you be the next hero?” When a hero dies their legacy prods us to leave a legacy. When a hero dies our loss is gain as long as we are compelled forward by their example.

I don’t tend to handle untimely death well. I always feel like there is so much more a person has to offer. The loss of these two men stings – pungent and raw. There’s a bit of inequity in that we mourn while they enter into pure pleasure. Though the pain of loss is real, I’m allowing these losses to compel me, by the grace of God, into their best attributes. Due to Steve, I want to burn for the lost more than ever and due to Brady I want to love well, always giving more than I take.

Ultimately being a hero isn’t about being or doing that which is heroic in the eyes of men, it’s about living faithfully to whims of  the HERO, Jesus. Only eternity will tell the story of the heroic exploits the people of God have done through the enabling grace of God. Oh the stories of faith that will be told on the day we gather on the sea of glass, all the to praise of the glory of His grace. I’m learning to love the hero I see in others and recognize whatever is heroic in them is a reflection of Jesus. I’m also learning that when a hero dies, even in the pain of loss, to all their legacy to spur me on to greatness in this age.

I pray for us all that we’d truly know the Hero and live heroically by His grace in this age.