I was just thinking that, during a span of 36 years, boys, girls, men and women were impacted by the personality and ministry of James Speer. That’s because he, along with his wife, Barbara, greeted thousands of campers at Daniel Springs Baptist Encampment in Gary, Texas, where he served as executive director of BMAA Camp Ministries.
I met James when we were students at Central Baptist College in 1964. He was an upperclassman, and I was a freshman. Another fellow freshman was his talented brother, Paul. The three of us formed fast friendships that lasted for decades.
No one ever met James Speer that was not soon laughing. The man had an uncanny sense of humor. He had a dry wit that was accompanied by astute wisdom. I think that is what made me like James so much. I could tell many humorous stories of things he said and did, but I want to focus on his true devotion to serving Christ.
The man was much more that a delightful personality. He was a devoted preacher and teacher of God’s Word. In keeping with all his family of nine siblings, he was a talented singer. He sang bass in the CBC Men’s Quartet while in college and later he did so with the Churchman Quartet at his church in Carthage, Texas.
He loved kids of all ages. No one can be a camp director for 36 years and not have a deep love for children and teens. One of the reasons for his love was his concern for their souls and their spiritual walks. That was the primary reason for his long tenure at Daniel Springs.
Under his leadership, campground facilities were improved and many added. To move from a few small cabins cooled only by window fans, the director called on men and women from several states to transform those abodes into comfortable air-conditioned facilities. That included the previously open-air tabernacle, where so many lives were touched by the ministry of the camp. All that sure made a difference in the serene setting amid the sultry East Texas climate.
When he rendered his annual reports to the meetings of the BMA of America, his thrill was to tell how camp changed lives. He beamed when he told of those who had been saved, those who had surrendered to missions and of those who had answered the call to the ministry. Those where highlights every year for James Speer.
My friend and fellow preacher for 58 years received his heavenly promotion Thursday, Nov. 3. I have a feeling he is enjoying the reunion with his family who are there. But I know what his greatest expectation was, and it was fulfilled when he saw his Savior Who changed his life years ago when, like so many to whom he had ministered, he put his trust in Him.
Thank you, Lord, for giving us a fellow servant in James Speer. You have blessed so many through him, and we are grateful.