My Friend Richard (Part 2 of 3)

by Ralph Tippin

Victory Even in the Hard Times

“When I first became a Christian, I thought all my problems were solved. Not true but I sure know where to take them.” (Richard Hawkshaw)

When I think of the Hawkshaw family, and Richard in particular, I am amazed at the strength they have exhibited despite a long series of accidents, setbacks, illnesses, and financial trials. But you see, there is a not-so-secret weapon – a prayer warrior mentality – simply and faithfully taking God at His Word. It seems every battle has been hard fought. It is tenacious prevailing with the truth that says, “God said it; I believe it; that settles it!”

Richard and Darrell believed in Jesus. Each of their seven children were taught the principles in the Bible by their example. God continues to honour their childlike faith in Him to this day. Are all the skirmishes over? Not at all. But they will be, and God will get the glory when they are.

Shortly after Richard received Jesus into his life, he had an opportunity to use his inherited authority. His daughter Cindy, working in the kitchen, became a conductor of electricity. Her brother Rick pried her loose from the source of the electric shock, but her hand and arm were locked in a clawlike grip. Richard quickly put her hand into a pot of cold water and came against the attack by quoting a healing scripture verse. Immediately, Cindy’s hand and arm were loosened and she was completely healed.

A Lesson Learned About Prayer

Another time, Richard prayed for a pet budgie that seemingly had died in its cage, not really believing this prayer was of any use. A short time later, the bird was back on its perch. Richard was amazed, and as he said, shook up from the experience.

In the next few years, Richard was put to the test through a series of what the world would call “bad luck” incidents. He preferred to call them attacks by Satan. A cyst on his back burst and nearly killed him. A fall at work pulled the muscles in his side and broke his knee cap. Then Richard fell down the steps, injuring his ankle and had to have his good knee cap taken off. He missed a year of work, which caused financial difficulties. Some of his children wavered from the path of following Jesus, which put Mom and Dad through some trying times.

Out of Tragedy Came Life

A tragedy struck in April, 1983. At five o’clock on a Sunday morning they received a call from the police that their oldest child, Rick, had been killed in a car accident. Rick was a baby Christian. A personable young man, Rick desired to follow his Saviour, but still battled old habits and addictions. But now he was gone. He was Home were it was safe. Already in a cast from his fall, Richard was obviously distraught and felt hopeless. His wife, Darrell, called Barb and me to go over right away. All the way to their house, we prayed and wept for our friends.

Richard wrote, “That day we could feel God’s presence, knowing that Rick was with Him in His house. I felt my brother’s strength, my parents’ love, and the support and prayers of many Christian friends. God’s peace that passes understanding was in our hearts.”

Many of Rick’s friends were very distressed by his death. Richard and Darrell were filled with compassion for them. Almost all were non-Christian and had no foundation on which to stand. Instead of mourning, this precious couple became comforters, sharing the love of Jesus and praying with Rick’s friends. At the funeral, several responded to an invitation to ask the Lord into their lives. Out of tragedy came life. Out of mourning, joy. Out of loss, victory.

“Even in our grief, we had joy. God gave us strength through it all,” Richard shared.

The years took a toll on Richard’s body. He had suffered so many injuries and so much disease that he could no longer work. Fortunately, the bank cancelled the debt on their home and it was hoped they would be able to retire relatively at peace.

Trusting Completely in God

A short while later, however, Richard was diagnosed with lung cancer and given six to eighteen months to live. In his testimony, Richard didn’t cry about his situation; he desired no sympathy. Instead, he said, “I have learned the prayers of God’s people are of great effect and I praise Him for what He’s doing and is going to do. In Thessalonians it says ‘In all things, give thanks’ … I have learned to put my trust completely in God.”

Richard lived for more than two years after the cancer was diagnosed. He continued to attend church, carry out his duties faithfully, always with a smile. He doggedly completed several projects around the house. He bought Bibles for each of his children. He sat them down and poured wisdom into them. He prayed that they would become committed to the Saviour he had come to know.

At ten minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve, 1994, Richard passed over into the arms of the Lord. It was finished. The battle was over. He had run the race. He had finished the course.

The next time, I will complete the story or Richard John Hawkshaw. His legacy lives on, his influence is still being felt. It has been over two decades since he died. I will see him again. All the same, I really miss him.


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