My rodeo career was just finishing up and Paul’s was just getting in full swing. We’d crossed paths a couple of times but we didn’t really know one another. Fast forward a few years and we had moved from Texas to Oklahoma and started the church in Sayre in ’89. I started hearing about Paul and, his then wife, Susie’s (Reba McEntire’s sister) ministry, which was pretty significant to say the least. We, again, crossed paths a time or two but I never got to spend much time with them.
In about 2008 I bumped into Paul in Wheeler, Texas. We had just finished a leadership training event in a church there and went out to eat. He was in the restaurant with a friend. We talked briefly and went on our way. He said later that the Lord told him that night that he needed to move to Sayre. He came over for a visit or two but it was a full two years before he moved here permanently. After being here a short time, he confessed that he should’ve been here all along.
Paul was not good. Diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and in the process of getting a divorce. His relationship with his kids (all grown) was strained, at best. He was angry, bitter and pretty hard to get along with. He had so many regrets about his life and just couldn’t find any peace to move on. He sorely regretted doing ministry from a condemning standpoint (his own testimony). And just when he’d be at his worst, someone would inevitably show up or call and tell him that 20 years ago, something he said to them totally changed their life. We included him in every single thing we did here. This story’s not about us, but there are some people around here that just won’t let you stay in a defeated mode. We propped him up, we encouraged him, we chastised him when it was unavoidable, we straight-up told him to quit beating himself up,…..but most of all we just loved him, ……and he started to change.
It was a process…but he caught the significance of having a real relationship with the Father, which in turn began to affect every other relationship that he had. He caught the tsunami of God’s grace and he was never the same after that. He started backtracking and repairing broken relationships, none of the least of which was with his children, E.P., Lucchese and Samuel. He was determined to love them and to be there for them in a way, which he said, he’d never really done before. He got that accomplished!
I often compare Paul Luchsinger with the Apostle Paul of bible fame. Both were full of dead religion until their ‘encounter’ with the God of grace. And after that….neither one was ever to be the same! His bitterness was totally gone and he was a blessing to every single person he came into contact with. There’s no telling how many people he helped as he pointed them to the Father. Even when his health was deteriorating he never complained….he always made it about everyone else. He ‘fought the good fight’ like nobody I’ve ever seen before….and may never see again.
I was in North Carolina when Paul graduated to heaven. Not embarrassed to admit that I shed quite a few tears when I received the news. I’m a little sad for us….but not sad for Paul at all. Paul Luchsinger got well in Sayre, Oklahoma! He finished STRONG! I’m sure that he’s not just a VIP in my books, but undoubtedly a VIP in the Father’s eyes!
**Paul Luchsinger was promoted to heaven on May 12, 2015