Summary: This is a eulogy for a Christian who loved his family, served his church, and invested himself in the lives of others. Doug was an African American, born in 1943 in a small town in West Va.
In May of 1943, the world was at war and freedom and justice was at stake. In Poland the Germans had crushed the last of the Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising killing thousands of Jews and sending the rest to the Triblinka concentration camp to die.
Meanwhile in Alaska, American troops were battling Japanese soldiers on the island of Attu in the Aleutian Islands to retake the Island from the Japanese troops.
But God was busy raising up a one man army that would be fighting for a different kind of freedom and Justice by sending into the world a little black boy in Welch, West Virginia who would pass through this life being called Douglas Thomas.
You see when God created Douglas, he was creating a one of a kind. The Scriptures tell us Psalm 139:13-16 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 6your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
In other words, none of us just happened. We came into this world, having been put together by God to make a difference in the lives of others and to make a difference for God. It’s amazing the different ingredients God uses to put us together in our mother’s womb.
God must have been thinking, this fellow Doug is going to be a tough one in order to accomplish what I’m calling him to do. I’ve got to put enough fire and passion in his bones to demand justice and freedom, wherever he finds oppression and chains, but I’ve got to wisdom to know when to speak and when to wait.
I’ve got to give him enough humor not only to make him able to bring laughter in the lives of others, but to use it to get past the his own pain and humiliation that he will experience in his journey of life.
I’ve got to make him curious enough to want to fill his mind with all kinds of fact and trivia but humble enough not to show off. I’ve got to make him patient enough to pass on the wisdom I will give to him to those who will not want to listen.
I’ve got to make him strong enough to be a great protector, yet gentle enough to be thoughtful of others in just the right moment. I’ve got to make him the kind of leader who knows how to walk alone when needed, but who is at his best in his hands on service to others.
I’ll give him just enough stubbornness to keep others from walking over him. That should about do it. I’ll leave a touch of my spirit, that He might know he came from me and one day he’s to come back to me. Get ready world, here comes one of my special gifts to you.
We are all a gift from God to the rest of the world. Life is the process of opening that gift and using that gift to enrich the lives of others. Unfortunately, far too many of us think, that the gift is to be an end in and of itself. All efforts are directed back on the gift itself.
Douglas Thomas was a man who understood that life is not found in seeking to simply please one’s self. The more lives you touch, the more enjoyable life becomes. In a day and a time, when a good man may be hard to find, I want you to know there are still some good men and that Douglas Thomas was one of them.
I believe one of the greatest celebrations of Black History Month is taking place right here, right now in the Celebration of An African American Man who knew the true meaning of being there for his family, actively participated in his Church, and stood up for those who could not speak up for themselves.
Doug didn’t start out on the top of society. If you are black, the third of 8 children, born in the 40’s, in a huge city like Wells, W. Va you better believe you were going to know something about poverty, about suffering, and about racism. Even moving to a larger city like Wellsville, OH was not going to change that.
Doug’s first encounter with trying to overcome the injustice of racism happened as a young boy. This little Caucasion kid would seek to humiliate Doug in a crowd by calling him a nigger as loud as he could. He did this several times in public. But Doug was a patient little fellow and did not take matters into his hand.