He was a gentleman. He was a man of God. He was an outstanding teacher. He was a marvelous mentor. He was kind to everyone.
Brother Winford Claiborne was one of our major professors when we were students at Freed Hardeman University. My first impressions included his great smile, how often as well as how kindly he spoke of his wonderful wife Molly, his wonderful spirit of humility, and the fact that I had never been around any person who read as widely as brother Claiborne!
It was his obvious love and commitment to sister Molly that caused us to ask him to do our pre-marriage counseling for us. We were blessed by being able to go into their home. It was a home filled with love for the Lord, love for one another, and love for others. It was a home filled with joy. It was warm and welcoming. Those times established a bond between us that lasted until they both passed.
We had brother Claiborne to come and speak in every congregation where we worked. Most of those times he stayed in our home. On Several occasions he brought sister Molly with him. Each time he came was special. He strengthened the church every time. He strengthened our home and our faith.
As long as I live I’ll never forget the first time he came to our home in North Alabama. He drove up to our small house and I went out to help him unload his possessions. With his clothing for the week he had a couple of good size boxes of books. I said, “Brother Claiborne are you going to sell those books this week?” My thought was I would try to buy some of them. His response was, “No Jeff, I’m going to read them!!” And he did.
He taught me how he would read several (it seems like as many as ten or more) books at one time. He would read for a while from one book then put it down and read from another, then another, and another. They books might all be related to a specific topic. Perhaps something he was working on for a radio series or sermon series. It was out of those visits nearly 35 years ago with him that I developed similar reading habits that I am still using today.
He was the most widely read man I have ever known. He read widely on current issues facing the world, our nation, and the church. He read incessantly about the family. He knew what the key figures in the world were saying about every issue of importance. He included his findings in sermons, classes, and his own writings. If you want to get a real sense of what we are talking about make sure you get a copy of brother Claiborne’s “Books, Books and More Books.”
During the past 35 years we have spoken on the phone numerous times. When I needed to know about a specific work in print brother Claiborne would receive a call. If there was a question about some current issue again he would be contacted. There is no way for me to put into words how much I loved, valued, and looked up to brother Claiborne. When brother Claiborne invited me to serve on the Advisory Council for The International Gospel Hour several years back I considered it one of the highest honors of my life.
We loved Winford Claiborne. He was a rare jewel among the people of God. We will miss him greatly. We will miss the conversations, the times of study, and the times of fellowship we enjoyed with him. We thank God for allowing this world and our brotherhood to be blessed by this great man. My life is richer and fuller for having known him. My prayer is that God would raise up other men like this giant man of God!
Dear Father in Heaven, thank You for the life of Winford Claiborne. Thank You for the wonderful good he did for the world, for the Church, and for so many families. Thank You for his kind spirit, his wonderful example, and his great work in Your Kingdom. Father we pray that You will raise up others like him. In Jesus Name we Pray, Amen.