My Saturday with Melanie was spent working on some “around the house projects” and just enjoying the day together. We planted and weeded and dug and all sorts of other stuff. After a couple of hours of being away from computer, phone, etc. I picked it up. Three missed calls and two missed text messages. They were from friends Dennis Jones and Johnny and Diane Ryan. All had the same message...Mike Nix had died. My heart skipped a couple of beats and I sank. Mike Nix. I first met Mike in either 1984 or ’85. He was the picture of health - Tall, muscular. Great smile. He and his lovely wife Mary Lynn had an equally lovely daughter Natalie. I got to know him through my brother who became like a second father to Mike (though Mike was 2 years older than Jeff).
For nearly 30 years my love for Mike grew. He was first an attentive friend. He seemed to care for everyone around him. He preached for a little church outside of Decatur, Neil. We held a meeting at the Eva church with different preachers each night and Mike was one of the speakers. It didn’t take me long to see him as Paul described Timothy: “For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:20-21).
He cared for others! Mike owned a optical house in Decatur, Decatur Optical. We played ball together two times a week at the old gym in Decatur - it was called “The Grunt and Groan” League. Mike played basketball like he lived his life - all out! He was a beast on the court, but loved by every middle-aged businessman in the group.
When I moved to Hamilton he was the first person I had come speak on a program there. I’d learned from him. His optimistic outlook was infectious. It was in the early ’90’s that Mike asked me to come preach a meeting where he was preaching. It was the Midway congregation. His home congregation. It was one of my first meetings and the last night he said to me “this has been the most encouraging meeting I have ever been a part of.” He may have just been being his kind, encouraging self but I’ve never forgotten it.
Mike was asked to work with the Beltline church in Decatur in 1999. He was the faithful, tireless preacher there for 12 years. I talked to him about slowing down some. He just didn’t have that in him. He was at least two years into that demanding work before he took a day off! Even a day. It seemed he ministered to everyone there - really to everyone he knew. His love for children, and the love they gave him back is legendary. I could go on and on.
It was my privilege to preach at Beltline a number of times and speak on other programs there the last 12 years and each time confirmed Mike genuineness. If I was speaking he’d plan a meal and invite people he knew were friends of mine. He sent notes. He wanted to know what you were up to what plans you had. How things were going in your life. He always hugged me when we’d see each other and told me that he loved me when we’d part company.
I know Mary Lynn and Natalie will miss him much. As I see it, Mike is gone way too soon and we grieve with the huge family of this good man - the Family of God.
ed note: I imagine Jeff will write some on Mike. I look forward to his thoughts.
Visitation for Mike Nix will be Monday from 3-8 and Tuesday from 12-2 with the funeral at 2. All at the Beltline Church of Christ.