By Bob Dickson
Gregory Mason Campbell did not live as long as most boys. In God’s providence, he went to heaven on May 8, 1968.
Gregory’s parents, Max and Joe Campbell, will tell you that Gregory’s passing was “the greatest sorrow of our lives.” But they will also tell you that they “never brooded” because their baby boy loved the Lord, and they rejoice in knowing they will see him again.
They will also tell you that Gregory’s life had purpose; it may have been short, but it made a difference.
Others will agree.
Nyack College President Michael Scales is among the first.
“Gregory was my cousin,” Scales says. “We spent our childhood together in Alabama.”
Scales was three years older than Gregory, but that didn’t stop them from being friends.
“They sure loved each other,” says Max Campbell, who is now 88. “Gregory just wanted to be another Michael.”
The Lord had other plans for Michael and Gregory. After Gregory drowned, God began to burden young Scales with a desire to be another Gregory.
“Realizing that even at age 13, the Lord can take you home, I knew I had to get my life on track,” Scales says. “I felt the Lord compelling me to try to fill the gap.”
The gap Scales speaks of is the loss of a budding young man with a desire to serve God. From a very young age, Gregory harbored a desire to become a missionary. He wanted to follow his older brother’s footsteps and serve in China.
“That’s what the Alliance is all about,” Max says. “We are missionary people and all of our (four) children have an Alliance background. Gregory was always serving at the church—cutting the grass, being a janitor…”
Older cousin Michael, meanwhile, watched him. Even though Gregory was three years his junior, it was clear that God had touched him in a special way. He had tapped him for some special service for the Kingdom.
In death, that special service became even more obvious. Its first fruits appeared in the life of Michael, who took the baton from Gregory and ran with it.
“I didn’t know back then how God was going to use me,” he says. “I just knew I wanted to be used. It was as if God took Gregory’s desire to serve and gave a bit of it to me. My life belonged to Him from that point on.”
Almost 40 years have passed since Gregory left this world—40 years since Michael Scales felt God’s prompting to serve as his younger cousin had served.
Scales has served the Lord faithfully since then, and that service is just one piece of the legacy of a boy who lived 13 years.
In honor of his cousin’s short, but significant life of Christian service, Scales and his wife Susan are personally providing an endowment for student aid in Gregory’s name.
The endowment will help Nyack students pursue their educations. It will help them sharpen themselves for the Lord’s service.
Lord willing, it will help put Christian missionaries on the field—perhaps even in China.
“Gregory was not able to travel to China as a missionary like he hoped to,” Scales said. “But he was a missionary every day of his life. Now, because of him, others will be able to make that trip. He changed my life and through this endowment, he will continue to change others. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
Scales called his Uncle Max and Aunt Joe to tell them of his plans. It was an emotional phone call—one marked by joy over how God providentially works.
“One of the greatest thrills of my life and my wife’s life is thinking that Michael is doing this,” Max says. “We thank God for every day of Gregory’s 13 years. And we thank him for the assurance of his salvation—that he is in God’s vineyard.”
Max says he and Joe look forward to the glorious reunion that awaits them in heaven. They know Gregory is “sitting up there waiting for us.”
“We know Jesus will be there,” Max says. “That has to be our true desire.”
Just as it is for those who will serve on the field because of the endowment in his name.
Just as it will be for the men and women who will learn of Christ through the missionaries Nyack sends.
He will be.
A named endowment can be established and disbursed for a minimum of $20,000. Contact Josue Calderon, Manager of Annual Gift Programs at Josue.Calderon@nyack.edu or phone (845) 675-4428 if you are interested in establishing an endowment.