There are three people I want to spend time with in heaven.

Of course, as a Christian, I can’t wait to see Jesus and worship at the throne of God. Naturally, I long to see my grandmothers, my father, aunts and uncles and cousins who have crossed from this life into eternal. But there are three people who had a great impact on my life who I think of on a routine basis. I look forward to spending some time with them in the hereafter.

BR Lakin was an old country preacher who had a huge impact on me coming to faith in Jesus Christ. Although I had grown up in church, as a young adult I certainly wasn’t living a life that came anywhere close to resembling a disciple of Jesus Christ. But, somehow the preaching of BR Lakin touched the depths of my soul. He was advanced in years by this time and often stumbled over his words as he preached. I had ordered a set of his sermon tapes through the Jerry Falwell television program. I can remember listening to his tapes after a night of bowling and drinking. I was fascinated with his preaching as God was reaching through my gruff exterior with those pearls from God’s word. I want to pull up a cloud and chat with BR and hear about his days as a circuit rider preacher in the early 1900s.

I also want to spend some time with Big Mama Bookout. She was my musician when I preached a series of revival meetings in Archer City, Texas. As I remember, she had been saved as an adult. She had played the piano in the old honky-tonk clubs. Because of her music style, when she would play the old hymns in our services, they sure didn’t sound like the way I had grown up hearing the hymns. People were enthralled with watching her fingers dance across the ivory and ebony keys on the piano. She would get to the church about 45 minutes early so she could limber up her old arthritic hands for the service to come. I had never seen a church where so many people would arrive early and gather around the old Baldwin piano just to watch her play.

This fellow may not appreciate being on my list of people I want to see in heaven because he is still living. But, lastly, I look forward to spending more time with Bob McLeod inside those pearly gates. I could drive to Alabama to see him, but we can definitely meet up when we have a few million years to spare. Bob has a ministry called Our Father’s Arms in the Jacksonville, Ala. area. They provide a place of hope to many who are at the bottom of life and have feelings of despair washing over them. I got to spend a lot of time with him when I was at Fort McClellan, Ala. I have seen him get yelled at, stolen from and taken advantage of by self-centered people. However, Bob has a big heart and seems to be more like Jesus than anyone I have ever known. He just keeps loving people.

Our lives are a tapestry of people that have helped shape us. In my military career, I can look back at the people who shaped me. Our faith walk is no different. We encounter people along the way who have represented the gospel to us in many ways. I know I look forward to seeing those people again in heaven. As the old hymn proclaims, “What a day of rejoicing that will be!”

Tony “T-Bar” Barnes is a 28-year veteran of the Marine Corps and Air Force. He works for the Department of Veterans Affairs and can be reached at

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