January 2, 2014, was a big day in my life. So big it even called for a name change. In one moment, just before midnight, with the drawing of one little breath from Charles L. Register III (Charlie), I became “Poppa.” Now, most people still call me Chuck or Brother Chuck or Dr. Chuck or even Dr. Register. A few very special people still call me Dad. But I have to admit, I’m getting real fond of being called “Poppa.”
Now the name “Poppa” didn’t come easy at first. In those months leading up to Charlie’s birth I tried my best to find the right name for a future granddad. My son, Charlie’s dad, suggested “Doc” but that seemed much too formal. I came up with “Gdaddy” but that was quickly vetoed by Charlie’s future grandmother. The name really didn’t start to “ring in my ears” until I held my grandson in the first few days of his life and sang to him a little song I made up entitled, “Poppa Loves Charlie.” It was in that moment that “Poppa” seemed like the perfect moniker.
Something else happened that day as I held my grandson. As I watched him sleep, counting one more time his fingers and toes to make sure they were all there, I became overwhelmed with a burden for his salvation. As an evangelical Christian, I believe with all my heart that one day, when my grandson is mentally mature enough to understand the message of the Gospel, that he will have a decision to make. He will have to decide for himself whether to embrace or reject the grace of God offered to every human heart through the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, how I pray that in that moment of decision Charlie will say “yes” and surrender his life to Christ. As I held Charlie close I pledged my love and life as his “Poppa” to that end. I will do all within my power to introduce that precious little fella to Jesus.
One more thing happened that day. I began to wonder, “What happens after Charlie commits his life to Christ? Will he grow to love God passionately and serve God faithfully? How will God use him? Will God give him the privilege of being a Christian husband and father or use Charlie to His glory as a faithful single adult? Will God call Charlie to vocational ministry or use him in the marketplace of the professional world? Ultimately, will God get maximum glory from Charlie’s life? The questions kept coming – rapid fire – simply wondering what all God had in store for my little buddy.
One thing I know for sure. Whatever God has planned for Charlie, I pray Charlie will understand his responsibility within God’s Kingdom. I pray he will understand that every Christian – whether single or married, parent or not, vocational minister or marketplace professional – has a role to play in taking the Gospel to the nations. As a future follower of Jesus I pray Charlie will understand that Jesus was speaking to him when He said, “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts1:8). So, on the fourth day of Charlie’s life, with my wife in agreement, I opened our checkbook and wrote a check made payable to Charlie’s parents designated for “Charlie’s Global Mission Fund.” As each year passes we’ll add to his mission fund – birthdays, Christmases, etc. Then one day, when Charlie’s parents think he is old enough and mature enough, we can launch Charlie out across the globe with the same life-transforming message that I pray will one day transform his own life. When that day comes, Charlie will travel to a lost and dying world with the grace of Jesus in his life, the love of Jesus in his heart and the message of Jesus upon his lips. He’ll also travel with the prayers of his Poppa accompanying him every step of the way.