My Uncle Bob passed away about a week ago. I wasn’t able to make it to the funeral, but I will miss him dearly. He had a major impact on my life and I thought it would be worthwile for me to share why.
For much of my life we lived within 45 minutes of Uncle Bob and his family. So we were pretty close with him and Aunt Jan and their daughters: Karen, Erica, and Judy. Through his life, Uncle Bob has been a missionary, a pastor, a journalist, editor, writer, and professor. He has been the special assistant to the President of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, has written several books, and has even ghost written articles for Dr. Billy Graham, and President Ronald Reagan. But I will always remember him as an investor.
Now when I say “investor,” I don’t mean that in the traditional sense of the word, but my Uncle Bob did invest in me in many ways over the years. We had a lot in common. He had a background in communication and design and enjoyed photography and art as well as writing. Throughout my years growing up he was always supportive of me and nurtured my creative side. He gave me some of his old cameras when I showed an interest in photography. He always wanted to see my artwork and encouraged me in my pursuits as a graphic designer and then in web design.
When I was a graphic designer for the National Office of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, he worked there as a special assistant to the President and as the Director of Communications. He had input on much of my work and helped me grow and mature both as a designer and as a person.
I don’t know if he ever realized it or not, but I considered him one of my mentors. But not only was he supportive of my artistic pursuits, he was also one of my biggest supporters when I felt God’s call on my life to enter the ministry. He even committed to providing me with a subscription to Christianity Today every year that I have been a pastor.
But one of the biggest investments he made in my life is one that he didn’t even make specfically for me personally. This investment came through a book that he wrote 25 years ago. That book is called, “All for Jesus.” It is about the history of the Alliance, and was mandatory reading for my ordination when I became a pastor. But to me that book is not just a historical book. It helped shape my philosophy of ministry. I have more notes in that book than any book I have ever read. I have highlighted passages, notes in the margin, sticky tabs and paperclips marking pages, and other notes that I have written out and inserted. I have quoted from the book repeatedly and I would put it among the top 5 most influential books in my life. It is one more way that Uncle Bob has invested in my life.
That is why I think of Uncle Bob as an investor. I hope that God is using me as an investor in the lives of others, because I have seen the benefit that I have received from those who have invested in me. And I write this as a challenge to all of us, that we should remember to thank those who have invested in us and look for ways to be used by God as investors in the lives of those around us.
In case you are interested I am including Uncle Bob’s obituary below…
Rev. Robert L. Niklaus, Jr., age 77, of Deland Florida, died March 13, 2011. He was the husband of Janet M. (McIllwaine) Niklaus for the past 52 years.
Born and raised in Williamsport, PA, he was a son of the late Robert L. Niklaus, Sr. and Harriet (Sims) Niklaus. He lived in Nyack, NY for many years- before and after spending 12 years doing missionary work in Belgian, Congo- he then lived in Colorado Springs from 1989-2003 moving to Lakeville, Ma until 2009 and retiring to Florida. He was a graduate of Nyack Missionary Institute-now Nyack College, Class of 1955. He received his masters in journalism Syracuse University, 1968. While residing in Nyack, he was an adjunct professor at King’s College (Briarcliff Manor NY) and Nyack College.
In 1972 he became Assoc. Editor of the Christian Missionary Alliance’s (C&MA) monthly magazine and also worked for National Religious Broadcasting writing numerous articles for religious magazines, including being a ghost writer for Dr. Billy Graham when he featured as the cover of TV Guide Magazine and President Ronald Reagan for a convention. He had the gift of words and was a model wordsmith. From 1987-1996, he was Asst to the President and later Director of Communications. He authored several books penning the history of Alliance worldwide and traveled with a video team recording missionaries at work to show churches how their support was being manifested. Retired from the C&MA in 2000, he became Pastor of Mullein Baptist Church in Lakeville, MA serving with his wife from 2003 – 2009. Surviving In addition to his wife: 3 daughters: Karen Corinha of Marshfield, MA, Erica Butler of Overland Park, KA and Judy Poferl of Bartlett, IL; sister Mary L. Mapstone of Colorado Springs, CO; 6 nieces, 8 nephews and the “jewels of his crown”. He was “button poppin’ proud” of his 9 grandchildren! He also leaves his adopted children: David Trinn of Vietnam, Lan and Sophy Kong of Cambodia and he was the brother of the late William Niklaus.