I can still see that scrawny, stooped over, little old man waving his bony fist in the air. Like a seasoned fighter pounding his invisible foe, Brother Watkins hung in the battle. He was an 85-year-old fountain of wisdom. I was 31, his pastor, and very thirsty for a deep drink from his fountain.
For 60 plus years, few but God saw Brother Watkins' missionary labors. His loves were Jesus, the Bible, and the Fula people of West Africa. Day after laborious day, Brother Watkins meticulously translated the Bible into the Fula language. He ate monkeys, battled Satan, and trusted God.
Poor health finally forced Brother Watkins back to the States. At 85, although he was no longer a spring chicken, he still had the heart of a soaring eagle. Once a week, Brother Watkins and Brother Kirk (he never spoke my first name) would pow-wow about the Kingdom of God. He lived alone and I'd usually find him, armed with a nubby pencil and a magnifying glass, hunched over stacks of worn out books, tattered paper, and his dog-eared Bible.
"What are you working on, Brother Watkins?" I'd ask as I walked into his musty house.
"The Psalms," he'd mumble compassionately, "I haven't finished the Psalms yet. The Fula people need the Psalms, you know."
Then I'd pull up a tired old chair, he'd boil me some African coffee strong enough to kill a bull elephant, and we would mull over matters of the Kingdom. And after we were all talked out, I'd stand to leave and our ritual of benediction ensued. Like a weary, but determined, warrior Brother Watkins assumed his battle stance. He would firmly grab the edge of the table, painstakingly shuffle to his rickety feet, and shout the victory cry, "Trust God!" To which I would respond, "Amen, brother, trust God!" And that is when Brother Watkins' knobby fist would pierce the heavenly realms with his never-failing challenge, "AND EXPECT HIM TO WORK!"
I don't think the old warrior and I ever parted ways without him shouting the battle cry, "And expect Him to work."
Brother Watkins is with Jesus now. The Fulas finally got the Psalms. And I can still see that aged-splotched fist waving in the air, and can hear him cry, "And expect Him to work!"
Thank you, dear old brother. I'll keep expecting God to work. And I'll see you again soon.
© Chip Kirk