Randy Gressett: A Life ‘Well Preached’

By LORETTA FULTON

I had never met or even heard of Randy Gressett before March 2020 when I was asked by Hendrick Home for Children to write an article about him for the Home’s Facebook page.

As a freelancer writer, I write for various news outlets and organizations, including Hendrick Home for Children. The first impression Randy made was a good one, and a lasting one. He was remarkably pleasant, patting his rescue dog Charlie as we talked, and always smiling and saying something good about his fellow human beings. I came away from the interview thinking Randy was one of those rare people who was unfailingly pleasant–a valued trait in a time when so many seem disgruntled.

The world lost one of its better citizens when Randy died Friday, October 30, in his home at age 63. A private graveside service will be held and a memorial servive will be scheduled at a later date. Arrangements are under the direction of Bell-Cypert-Seale Funeral Home of Snyder.

Randy Gressett (Bell-Cypert-Seale Funeral Home photo)

Randy and his wife, Wendy, were relief house parents at Hendrick Home for Children and Randy also was pastor of First Baptist Church in Trent. As relief house parents, Randy and Wendy kept children in their home on the Hendrick Home campus whenever regular house parents were on vacation.

“it’s a revolving door,” Randy said of the relief home.

Randy and Wendy took the children under their care to church in Trent on Sundays, where they heard their “house dad” preach. A comment Randy made about the challenge of preaching to people he shared his home with is worth repeating. He knew he couldn’t preach one message at church and “live” a different message at home.

“The best sermons are lived, not preached,” he said. “That’s on my mind all the time.”

Anyone who ever met Randy Gressett would say a loud “Amen!” to the beatiful life-sermon he preached and lived.

Pasted below is a link to Randy’s obituary, which is posted on the Bell-Cypert Seale Funeral Home website, followed by the complete story written for Hendrick Home for Children.

Read full obituary https://www.bcsfh.com/obituary/randy-gressett?fh_id=14781

The following article was written by Loretta Fulton in March 2020 for Hendrick Home for Children.

By LORETTA FULTON

Going to church on Sunday mornings is a given for residents of Hendrick Home for Children, but only a few go with the pastor, listen to his sermons, and then go back home with him.

That’s been the experience the past couple of years for boys who transition in and out of the relief cottage that is overseen by houseparents Randy and Wendy Gressett. On April 1, 2018, Randy was hired as the “permanent part-time pastor” of Trent Baptist Church. The boys living in the relief cottage on any given Sunday go with the Gressetts to church in Trent–no matter who the boys happen to be on a particular Sunday.

“It’s a revolving door,” Randy said.

In mid-March, brothers Abala and Asende Lokendo and Peter Tuyisenge were living in the cottage. The houseparents of the cottage where they normally live were away and the boys were staying in the relief cottage. 

The short drive to church in Trent on Sundays has proved to be a blessing for the Gressetts, church members, and the boys who attend. Trent Baptist Church is small, with an average Sunday attendance of about 25. No youth events or Sunday School classes are held. Sometimes on Senior Recognition Day, there will be more seniors from Cooper High School, where children from the Home attend, than Trent High School. Even in the small congregation with no local youths attending regularly, the boys fit in and are embraced. 

“The guys are very much welcomed and included,” Randy said.

Imagine the challenge for Randy when “his kids” are in the congregation. He knows they will be going home with him and that his lifestyle always is on full display. In other words, he knows he has to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk” in a sermon. If the boys know his lifestyle at home doesn’t live up to his preaching, he could be in trouble. It’s a challenge Randy cherishes.

“The best sermons are lived, not preached,” he said. “That’s on my mind all the time.”

All children at the home attend church somewhere, usually wherever the houseparents are members. Depending on the size of the church, the children participate in camps, mission trips, service projects, and other church activities. They also give of what they receive. One girl who previously stayed at the Gressett’s relief cottage saved $500 from her part-time job to give to Trent Baptist Church. 

Abala and Asende Lokendo and Peter Tuyisenge all come from refugee families. Abala, 19, and Asende, 18, are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and have been in the United States five years. They moved to Abilene through the International Rescue Committee three years ago. An older brother, Lucas, 21, is their legal guardian and lives in the college residence for men at the Home. He is a student at Cisco College. Peter is from Tanzania and came to the United States at age three. His father lives in Abilene. 

“Kids come from literally all over the world to live at Hendrick Home,” Randy said.

It would be hard for most people to pick out the children from other countries living at the Home. They either speak English when they arrive or pick it up fairly quickly. A common trait they share is appreciating the secure, safe, and loving environment they find when they arrive on campus.

“It’s like being at home,” Peter said, especially with Randy’s rescue dog Charlie always eager for a pat on the head. 

Abala, like other boys his age, is looking forward to buying a used car in time for graduation in May. The children at the Home are required to save $3,000 from their after-school jobs to help pay for a car. Hendrick Home chips in another $5,000. Being frugal, Abala has saved $5,000 from his job at a Sonic drive-in.

“I want to get a Camaro,” he said, but acknowledged that even a used Camaro might be beyond his price range. 

Abala hopes to play soccer or football, maybe both, at either Hardin-Simmons University or Cisco College in Cisco. He was a running back for the Cooper Cougars football team. 

The boys living under the loving and watchful eyes of Randy and Wendy Gressett are typical of the solid citizens that Hendrick Home for Children is known to produce. And that makes Randy the preacher and Randy the housedad proud.

“The great reward is to see young people grow,” he said, “and take steps toward becoming the best they can be.”

7 comments

  • Enjoyed reading this article. He died way too young. Thanks for sharing.

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  • His life and work will live on through all those he touched. Lovely tribute to a life well lived.

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  • What a blessing to have met and served with Randy. He was a kind and devoted man, always ready to help and assist the kids at Hendrick Home. Randy was also a tender Shepard to the little church in Trent, and his love and leadership will be missed so greatly there. However- they all take joy in knowing there will be a sweet reunion day – someday.

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  • I watched Randy grow up here in Snyder where I had the pleasure of teaching with his parents. Randy was like a ray of sunshine and always had a quick wit. He will be missed by many. Thanks for the great article. Thanks Randy for the memories you leave behind!!

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  • I was with Randy during some of his best of times and some of his worst of times. Through it all, he always remained positive, always kept his present and future in the hands of his Lord, always thanked God for his blessings, and always responded to adversity with strength and grace. Hendrick Home was fortunate to have him for many years as a model to our children. He is missed but his influence is enduring.

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  • Elouise Lambert Snyder Texas

    Randy always had a smile He was a real example for all of us and strangers He demonstrated the love of Christ to all !
    He will be missed soo much I have a son in heaven so I expect he and Randy to be with each other!!

    Like

  • When our family moved to Snyder in 1980 upon my being named president at Western Texas College, we were impressed by a young youth director at First Baptist Church. He was a marvelous Christian mentor for our three daughters. A decade or so later, he was an associate at Howard Payne University as a resident hall director. I never knew a finer man.

    Like

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