But taking a cue from the senior pastor at North Point, I will not use this post to bring glory to his killer. Rather, I want to celebrate his life and the small part of it that he so graciously shared with me and with Jonathan. Clint is about 2 1/2 years older than me. He and I never went to school together and he was in the older high school end of the youth group at UBC (my home church in Houston) when I was in middle school and early high school. I knew of him, had seen him around, heard his name a lot, but never really "knew" him. The summer that Jonathan and I got engaged also marked a summer when Jonathan landed a pastoral internship with Robert Creech (our former pastor at UBC). At the time Clint was serving as an intern as well, but he was working more with Pamm Muzslay (she was preaching at a little "branch out church" UBC had started in a neighborhood apartment complex in Pasadena, Tx). He was preaching and teaching Bible studies, yes, but the work he was doing with those kids at that apartment complex will be the thing that is forever etched in my mind about Clint.
He and Jonathan were working fairly closely at that point, and Jonathan would come home talking about "what he and Clint did today", or something funny Clint said, or some inside joke they'd conjured up. They spent a good chunk of time working together that summer. One afternoon, Jonathan came home and said, "I hope you don't mind, but I sort of volunteered you for something." Uh-oh... "Clint needs some help at the apartments because he's turning an empty apartment into like a "youth building" and he is painting it tomorrow. I told him we would help." Of course I was willing to help. So we showed up at this apartment complex the next morning ready to help. Clint came bounding out of the little kitchen area in the "club house" just smiling and cutting up. Just being his usual comedic self. So excited to be starting this project he'd been looking forward to. "These kids just really need something like this. They spend all day getting into stuff they shouldn't get into and they just need a place to chill, ya know? Let's go get started! Y'all want a capri sun before we go??? (ha!)" So we followed him to this empty apartment (that was blazing hot in the Houston summer heat) and started painting.
We are laughing and cutting up the whole time. Kids from the complex are popping in and out and saying things like "Meester Cleent. What are you doeeng in heeere? Eeet smells steeenky!". And Clint would just banter back with them and tell them what we were doing and offer them a paintbrush and let them "help" for the 5 minutes their attention span would allow. Every once in a while we would hear this little bike bell ring and see this little "ice cream man" pass by trying to sell treats to kids. Here's an example of what an "ice cream man" in Pasadena, Tx looks like:
We were laughing at the humor of this little Mexican guy riding around on a bike following kids around trying to get them to buy ice cream. He was like on point, man! Every time a kid would pop into that apartment we were painting, not 5 seconds later we would hear that little bell. And of course the kid would either bound out of the room to buy something or beg Clint for a buck or two. He was always willing to oblige...after a quick little joking jab about being "made of money" and what not. So Clint starts talking in this "little Mexico" accent joking about the ice cream man. He said, "That guy is like everywhere. I mean, I wouldn't be surprised if he wheeled that thing up to my front porch in Clear Lake and rang his little bell. And I would be like, 'Dude, what are you doing here?', and he would be like, 'Cleeent, eets my meeneestree mang!', and I would be like, 'How do you know my name?', and he would be like, 'I know evreetheeng about you Cleent.'" I still laugh when I replay that conversation in my mind. The thing is, Clint was quick to joke, quick to laugh, but you always knew he was so sincere in his willingness to help anyone. But most especially those who were less fortunate. He had such a heart for people, for children, for the lost and hurting, for the poor. He just had a heart of gold. After we had had our fill of painting for the day, Jonathan and Clint organized a quick little game of stick ball in the courtyard. Kids poured out of the complex to come downstairs and play with Meester Cleent. He would pick them up and sling them over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and run them to first base. He would mercilessly catch the hits of the "hot shots" and "drop" the hits of the weaklings. He laughed and joked with them and had that whole brood of kids laughing and joking with him. It was such a heartwarming thing to watch.
I heard a "testimony" tonight from the senior paster at North Point where Clint was pastoring. He said that not much before the murder, Clint had been talking to him about possibly moving the church into a smaller building (he was more than willing to take a cut in pay) in order to free up more funds to do mission work. That's the kind of guy Clint was. And that is honestly and truly the person he is...that's not some quintessential "eulogy" of him. I would say that about him if he were standing over my shoulder right now reading this post. His church building was in a "rough part of town", but I guarantee you Clint was not closed up in his ivory tower...I know he was out in the streets making a difference. Working to bring as many people into that relationship with Christ that he was loving every minute of himself. He would have given you the shirt off his back, the keys to his car, he probably would have given you the heart out of his chest if you really needed it. He was such a beautiful picture of selflessness and unconditional love.
The world is a little dimmer now, without the man that was and is Clint Dobson in it. My heart aches for his wife and family. For the children he never had, because he would have been such an amazing father. I hurt for all his church family and for the people and kids whose lives he touched, including mine and Jonathan's. Clint Dobson's legacy lives on, though. We should all take a cue from his loving generosity and voracious love of Jesus. Would that we could all be such a shining example of Christ in the darkest places in this world. And though the darkest parts of this world were the things that took his life a year and a half ago, I know he opened his eyes in Heaven that day and is rejoicing with his Father and Healer. He feels no pain, has no regrets, and will most likely be there to greet us all at those pearly gates when we get there. Of course that welcome might come with a classic Clint Dobson quip and maybe a "Do y'all want a capri sun before we go inside???"
In Loving Memory of Clint Dobson