By Tommy Hagewood
“We have lost two good soldiers.” These words were spoken to me by sister Jeannetta Clifford just prior to the funeral service of her beloved husband, brother Rufus R. Clifford, Sr. The other soldier sister Clifford was referring to was brother Grover Stevens. Both men passed from this life to their reward on Friday, February 21, 1997.
Truly these were two great men of God. Both men preached the unsearchable riches of Christ for many years. Both struggled through many battles for Christ during their early pilgrimage. Both shall be greatly missed.
The earthly remains of brother Clifford were laid to rest in Columbia, Tennessee on Saturday, February 22, 1997. Brother Stevens’ funeral service was conducted in Louisville, Kentucky on Monday, February 24, 1997. We extend our sympathy to both of these families in their time of sorrow. We sorrow but not as others who have no hope.
From a personal standpoint brother Rufus Clifford had a greater impact on my life because I was around him more. I’ve known him since I was a small child and have heard him preach many times.
When he retired from preaching a few years ago, he and sister Clifford greatly blessed Maury County by moving into our area. He served as an elder for the Lanton church of Christ until illness forced him to resign. Everyone who loved the truth and gospel preaching loved brother Rufus Clifford.
I shall never forget hearing him preach on heaven thirty years ago when I was a student at Florida College. He was holding a meeting at the Seminole church of Christ in Tampa. Another young preacher remarked to several of us after the lesson, “Brother Clifford talked about heaven like he had already been there and had come back to tell us about it!” Obviously he had not been there in body but that’s where his heart, treasure, and citizenship were while he lived on this earth. I can still close my eyes and see him preaching and hear his touching words, “If you miss heaven, you’ 11 have missed it all.”
I first met brother Grover Stevens when his son Phillip was my roommate my first year at Florida College. Though I didn’t have much contact with brother Grover over the years since, I was always greatly blessed at those times when I did get to hear him preach.
To me, the thing that stands out about brother Stevens was his courage. He had the courage to leave the false religion of denominationalism for the truth of Christ. In preaching the gospel he put his own physical life in jeopardy at times especially I believe when he exposed the false religion of Masonry. (The sermons he delivered a few years ago at the Downtown church of Christ on Masonry are classics.)
I do not mean to imply in this tribute that these men were sinless men. They would have been the first to acknowledge that they had feet of clay and were saved by the grace of God. However, both of these men were good men, holy men of God who loved the Lord, loved the truth of the gospel, loved souls, loved the Lord’s church, and loved their families. Both sought to exalt Christ and not themselves. Both are worthy of our love, respect, and gratitude. I plan to see both of them in heaven!
From the lives of godly people who precede us in death let us learn some valuable lessons:
A person can live the life of a Christian even in a wicked world.
A Christian’s life is to be a happy, joyful, purposeful life.
Though seemingly an endangered species, there are men who are unashamed to be identified as Christians.
There are still men who risk their lives and who give their lives to preach Christ.
There are men who live and die as good husbands, fathers, brothers in Christ, and friends.
It truly pays to be a Christian in this life and to died in Christ (Rev. 14:13).
These men, being dead, yet speak (and so some day shall we).
Guardian of Truth XLI: 10 p. 5-6
April May 1, 1997