|Pastor Chaffin with my brother Phil and two other boys|
about 40 years ago on a winter hike near Douglas, WY.
(I was behind the camera).
My high school years in the mid-1970’s were difficult for me. I was an under-sized California teenager with long hair transplanted to a small Wyoming high school full of rancher’s kids. This was before the oil and coal boom. Outside of a single consistent friend at high school and a couple of teachers, one other man played a vital role in getting me through those years: Robert Chaffin. Or, as I always called him, Pastor Chaffin.
It takes a special kind of man to be a pastor in a town the size of Douglas, Wyoming. Pastor Chaffin worked in construction all week long, often out of town. Yet, he still made time to visit the sick and elderly of our congregation, take the boys group camping, and preach a sermon both Sunday morning and Sunday night. His sermons were simple and direct. Pastor Chaffin was not one given to elaborate theology or dramatic speaking. He let his well-worn Bible do most of the talking.
My brother and I were often the only boys our age in church during those years from 1973-1977. Since it was just Mom looking after us, Pastor Chaffin took us under his wing. In addition to the many camping activities (which also attracted a few other boys from town), he and his adult son Dan took us deer and antelope hunting. Pastor Chaffin would put us to work doing chores around their place so we could earn a few dollars. Not that he could have had much to spare. In all the time I spent with him at church, at his home, out in the Wyoming wilderness, I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone. And he had the opportunity. Pastors see and hear a lot. He bore it with magnificent patience.
|Pastor Chaffin with one|
of 21 great-grandchildren
I lost track of Pastor Chaffin when I moved back to California. For decades, I had nothing but those fond memories. But, through the wonders of the internet and the postal service, I was able to reconnect with him a couple of years ago. He was living in an assisted care home and volunteers from a local church would write out letters that he dictated. I was able to send him some pictures and just say thanks. His response was warm and generous and, as always, gave credit to the Savior he loves so much for any good that was done.
He was a gentle shepherd for the four years he was my pastor. From the letter that came with this picture, it was true the other 70 or so years of his adult life. Heaven has welcomed a good and faithful servant. Reverend Robert Glenn Chaffin, February 7, 1921-November 23, 2015.