Great Mentors I Have Known:
CHARLIE RIGGS, PACESETTER
One of a Series
by Dr. Waylon B. Moore
Ever have a toilet that runs constantly? After straining in vain about two hours to fix our
commodeís problem, I called the plumber. He grabbed a tool that I didnít know existed and
easily fixed the washer, the leak and the handle in roughly 5 minutes. (I had to pay him
for the whole hour!)
I just had to ask how he knew exactly what to do. He said: I learned while working
as a teenager for a neighbor who was a plumber. I did the dirty stuff, digging and going
under houses; the preparation. Then I watched him finish the job. I saw that knowing what
worked and having the right tools was essential. It took time, observing him, getting
exhorted every hour about something, til I did it the right way his way.
Finally I took tests and got my own license.
The fastest way to learn a skill or craft is to see it modeled. To do hands-on work,
carefully observed by an expert. Imparting ministry and lifestyle skills through mentoring
is still an essential ingredient in making disciples of Christ.
The greatest pacesetter
Jesus knew the power of example. He come to earth and plunged into the culture and life
of a Jewish state, living in the Roman world, as a carpenter. He lived daily for 3 years
with 12 men. Jesus modeled all that He wanted these disciples to be and do. Jesus commanded:
Follow me (Matthew 4:19). He was not afraid of leading. Nor was he
convinced that lone-rangers could learn from Him at a distance. He invited fellowship
again: Come to me, all of you who toil and carry burdens and I, yes I, will
lead you into rest. Put on my yoke and learn from me. . . . (Matthew 11:28-29,
Williams Translation). Jesus got up-close and personal. He ordained twelve that
they should be with Him, and that he might send them forth to preach (Mark 3:14).
Jesus wanted them with Him first, to share his life. Then He sent
them to preach, to share his ministry. Life first; ministry second.
The Apostle Paul carefully imitated his master. All through his New Testament letters,
Paul reminds the converts of what he DID as well as what he said around them. He
commands the churches to follow me as I follow Christ. He uses three
descriptive Greek words for follow that mean: to come behind, to
mimic or copy, and to pursue. We mark others deeply
through modeling, setting a sharp pace.
Meeting Daws Trotman
I had met Dawson Trotman during the Billy Graham Crusade in Ft. Worth. He had agreed
to give Billy 6 months to sharpen the counseling and follow-up for those hundreds
making spiritual decisions during the month long Graham Crusades. Daws pioneered
new concepts in nurture and up-graded Grahamís total ministry impact for decades.
I heard Daws speak on Acts 17:11 at a church. I met him, lined him up to speak at
the Seminary, and offered to drive him anywhere he needed on Monday, when Seminary
didnít meet. I had borrowed an auto to link up with Daws, and found ways to be with
him through the rest of the Graham Crusade. We prayed together, and He invited me
to Westmont College in California where he would be speaking to the staff of the
Navigators for 10 days. I hitch-hiked the 1,500 miles there. Daws was the starter
of a whole new Christian life-style for me. I began to memorize scripture, have
daily quiet time, and a new kind of Bible Study. He asked me to be of assistance
to a couple coming to work in Ft. Worth, Charlie and LaRue Riggs.
Who is Charlie Riggs?
Charlie was saved when he was 15 years old on a Sunday night. He had no follow-up
help at all after that personal decision. He coasted spiritually, working in the
oil fields, and other work until he was 25.
In WWII Charlie was promoted through the ranks from private to First Lieutenant.
Eventually he did the work of an Army Colonel in Seattle, Washington till war ended.
During that time he learned the howís of discipleship with the Navigators
and their key man there, Lorne Sanny, who had a training base in his home.
Being mentored by Lorne Sanny super-charged his spiritual life. The discipline and
total commitment that marked his Army life meshed with his personal devotion to
Christ. He really grew spiritually during those tough war years, and lived in the
household with the Lorne Sanny family. The Navigators, when possible, trained their
workers in an alongside ministry situation just as Jesus did the 12.
A person can grow more rapidly that way. Nothing can stay hidden long that needs
changing in oneís life. Charlie and the guys in training lived on the bottom floor
below the Sanny family, while the girls there were on the 3rd floor. Charlie soon
noticed pretty LaRue. She was artistic, sparkly, and spiritually hungry. With the
war over, Charlie attended college for 3 years, and married LaRue. Charlie was
invited to begin Navigator ministry in Ft. Worth, where I was going to Southwestern
Meeting Charlie Riggs
Charlie Riggs modeled that life of a Christian soldier before some young men in
Texas in the 1950ís. God marked our hearts for eternity through Charlieís life and
words. I had the privilege of observing and learning from this great pacesetter.
One day the Riggs arrived after traveling 3,000 miles in an old car that included
little Danny, smaller Bobby, and Loretta about ready to be born. I had them stay
in my little apartment and I found a place to stay for a while.
My first lesson from mentor Charlie was the way he handled a major crisis. A Texas
millionaire, interested in the follow-up ideas he had heard from Daws Trotman, had
offered to support someone to teach discipleship and spiritual growth for three years
in Ft. Worth. On that promise Charlie was asked to move to Texas.
When he had his first meeting with the wealthy man, Mr. Fleming backed out of his
promise! He offered instead to pay the Riggs' way back to Seattle! Charlie was in
shocked surprise. He had prayed for days about this move across America to this
new ministry, and believed God had led them to Ft. Worth. He thanked Mr. Fleming,
but said that God had led them, and would meet their needs.
When Charlie told us the news, we were also perplexed to know what was happening.
We all prayed together. Charlie spent some time alone with the Lord. Then began
looking for work. I made my tiny two rooms available to them, and we began praying
for a place they could rent and for guidance where Charlie should work. The Riggs
family linked hearts with Jesusí promise: When he has brought out all his own,
he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
(John 10:4). God was faithful in meeting the Riggsí immediate needs in that tough
time of adjustment. Iíve never forgotten Charlie and LaRueís sticking to Godís
guidance, and seeing Him begin a strong ministry in Texas through the Riggs.
Never doubt in the dark, what God told you in the light.
Charlie founded a Navigator home, with several single guys. I was part of everything
except living there. Later living in Dallas, Charlie was asked to work for a member
of the Billy Graham team as a helper in Houston. I went there also.
A loving, caring husband and dad
Iíve had the privilege of observing Charlie in his home, work, and ministry. He
set the pace for Christ. Weíre still in touch monthly. A life-time of friendship is
Godís bonus from my being open to learn from Charlie. I was a hungry young single
in the 50ís. Charlie impressed me modeling love and genuine tenderness and care
for his wife and children. Iíd not seen that up close outside my familyís rather
threatening environment. As a Seminary student trying to learn everything, I didnít
realize some life lessons would come packaged in presents I didnít expect. God
knew how desperately I needed models of dadís who touched and played with their
children; men that treasured their wives. I hadnít experienced much of that growing
up. Charlie was a family man playing with the kids, and his love for
LaRue blossomed everywhere in small and large examples. He was a hard worker
providing for family needs with little income. Charlie remains a supreme model to
me at a critical time in my growing spiritual life. God layered other mentors of
good family living through Bob Foster, Gordon Donaldson, and some fellow students
who were married with families. My heart was shaped about marriage seeing Godís
word lived out before me. Godís mentor-models can be life altering.
A faithful man
When Charlie was asked to be a handy man for Jerry Bevens, Coordinator-Director
of the Graham Crusades Charlieís servant-heart said yes. He cheerfully
did janitor-type work, the get-dirty jobs, and with enthusiasm. He never quit
because of some problem. He stuck, solved the problem, and finished. Charlieís
goal with any job was to do it the best it could be done. I was in four Graham
Crusades with Charlie and saw how God used this quiet, diligent servant. Charlie
did it all, running errands, unloading, and setting out hundreds of chairs. I
recall the Houston Crusade with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. I helped Charie count,
number, and flag all the seats at Rice Stadium. I was by his side a few days each
for some of the Crusades in Houston, then later in England, Amsterdam, and Berlin.
Charlie attended two universities, but his graduate degree was from the
University of 2 Timothy 2:2, Faithful, Able/Available, Teachable. People
saw a trim, wiry, balding man with a New York accent who talked more in short
sentences than paragraphs. Charlie had that rare quality of faithfulness to a task,
a vision. Dr. Jerry Bevens saw it, and couldnít do without him. Army General,
King David complained in desperation: Help Lord, for the godly man ceaseth,
for the faithful fail from among the children of men... (Psalm 12:1, 2).
When the Graham team was invited to hold Crusades in England, Bevens surprised
the Team requesting that Charlie also be allowed to come too!
In England, away from their families for months, Charlie did multiple tasks. His
worth and abilities were slowly understood and noticed. Later he was asked to
teach and train counselors how to witness. Still later he became a Team Member.
Charlie eventually led the Graham Teamís Counseling-Follow-Up birthing
ministry for decades. He and those he mentored, in turn, trained pastors and laymen
in dozens of countries. Around the world for more than 40 years, thousands got
saved, grew in Christ, counseled inquirers, and applied what they had learned
from Charlie in their churches. Over a million came to Christ who were counseled
personally. Why did God use this quiet guy, a roughneck oil-field worker so
mightily? Iíve heard Charlieís prayers: for Christ to get all the glory and
honor. I can understand why God gave him the responsibility for the training
of more people in this follow-up ministry than any other person alive.
How Charlie mentored others
Charlie was there as my best man when I married. By telephone and letter, he continued
to keep up with me, encouraging, mentoring, impacting me. He was brutally honest,
direct, sharing with me a need he saw in my life. He nailed me privately.
He would also complement me and stretch me to be more for Christ. What a consistent
pace setter. He had something always to share that was fresh from his time alone with
God. He sought to apply verses to life. The Scriptures became so alive around Charlie.
Even after retirement he continued to mentor men, and be available for those he had
known for decades. God gave me a life-time encourager when I was open to learn and
be mentored. Are you open?
One of the major things I learned from Charlie was a week-by-week, inductive Bible
study. We began to study books of the Bible, chapter by chapter . . . seeking personal
application of a single verse a week. We learned to answer four simple questions that
Daws Trotman used. This method of Bible study became the most important single tool
Iíve used with small groups of men, to get them into the Scriptures with growth, and
change. These four questions work with a verse, a passage, or a chapter. What
does it say? What does it say I donít understand? What does it say elsewhere? What
does it say to me? Full instructions (click here)
and a sample study blank (click here) are available
on our web site: www.mentoring-disciples.org.
Do you have a mentor? Are you mentoring at least one other person? Jesusí life example
is ours to claim, or reject. There is no neutrality. Some people canít find a mentor . . .
and donít know simple steps to become an impacting mentor. This is why we have one of
the rare Mentoring Workshops in the world in Tampa, FL. Check our next scheduled Workshop
on this page.
Call us for an email brochure at 813-238-2303 or email us now at
mentors AT arq DOT net.
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A Worldwide Christian Mentoring Ministry Equipping
Believers To Evangelize, Nurture, Disciple and Multiply