This little series is called “A Few Good Men.”
Today is my father and mother-in-love’s 51st wedding anniversary. Since last month you learned a little more about her, I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about the man, the myth, the legend: David “Poppy” Dillon.
David Dillon is the third child of Richard “Granddad Dick” and Sarah “Granny Sal” Dillon. Richard was an engineer who graduated from Virginia Tech and worked for a firebrick company as a boiler inspector and salesman. Soon after their wedded bliss, Sarah took some time off from college to start a family, but was determined to go back and finish her teaching certification at ODU in 1963. One thing to note, two of her granddaughters and myself all graduated from her alma mater as well. She taught elementary school in Virginia Beach for many years.
Around 1970, Granny Sal had an encounter with the Lord where she gave her heart to Jesus and proceeded to tell everyone about Him from that day forward. Among the most directly affected by her evangelical zeal was young David, who at 16 was the only child living at home. The presence of the Lord entered their home from the moment of salvation and young David gave his heart to the Lord soon after. The sea called to Poppy at a young age as well, for surfing was innate within him. Around this same time, he fell in love with his high school sweetheart, Patty Lakeman. They were married a week after graduation and went directly to Pinecrest Bible College that fall. And by 1975, they were planting Rock Church right here in Franklin, VA.
To fast forward…not only is our church thriving, but over the last 46 years we have funded missionaries Marcus and Jennifer Morris. Marcus was born here in Franklin, VA and moved to Bolivia over 30 years ago. There ministry has started over 20 church plants and has over 350 plus students at their school every single year.
Back to Poppy…I believe he has served for 46 years as a community father. There is a popular story in the Bible that reminds me of Poppy, but I want to highlight it with a little different perspective today. I hope you enjoy this part of his-tory.
“Then Jesus said, ‘Once there was a father with two sons. The younger son came to his father and said, “Father, don’t you think it’s time to give me my share of your estate?” So the father went ahead and distributed between the two sons their inheritance. Shortly afterward, the younger son packed up all his belongings and traveled off to see the world. He journeyed to a far-off land where he soon wasted all he was given in a binge of extravagant and reckless living.
‘With everything spent and nothing left, he grew hungry, because there was a severe famine in that land. So he begged a farmer in that country to hire him. The farmer hired him and sent him out to feed the pigs. The son was so famished, he was willing even to eat the slop given to the pigs, because no one would feed him a thing. Humiliated, the son finally realized what he was doing, and he thought, “There are many workers at my father’s house who have all the food they want with plenty to spare. They lack nothing. Why am I here dying of hunger, feeding these pigs and eating their slop? I want to go back home to my father’s house, and I’ll say to him, ‘Father, I was wrong. I have sinned against you. I’ll never again be worthy to be called your son. Please, Father, just treat me like one of your employees.’”
‘So the young son set off for home. From a long distance away, his father saw him coming, dressed as a beggar, and great compassion swelled up in his heart for his son who was returning home. The father raced out to meet him, swept him up in his arms, hugged him dearly, and kissed him over and over with tender love. “Then the son said, “Father, I was wrong. I have sinned against you. I could never deserve to be called your son. Just let me be—” The father interrupted and said, “Son, you’re home now!” Turning to his servants, the father said, “Quick, bring me the best robe, my very own robe, and I will place it on his shoulders. Bring the ring, the seal of sonship, and I will put it on his finger. And bring out the best shoes you can find for my son. Let’s prepare a great feast and celebrate. For my beloved son was once dead, but now he’s alive! Once he was lost, but now he is found!” And everyone celebrated with overflowing joy.
‘Now, the older son was out working in the field when his brother returned, and as he approached the house, he heard the music of celebration and dancing. He called over one of the servants and asked, “What’s going on?” The servant replied, “It’s your younger brother. He’s returned home and your father is throwing a party to celebrate his homecoming.” The older son became angry and refused to go in and celebrate. So his father came out and pleaded with him, “Come and enjoy the feast with us!” The son said, “Father, listen! How many years have I worked like a slave for you, performing every duty you’ve asked as a faithful son? And I’ve never once disobeyed you. But you’ve never thrown a party for me because of my faithfulness. Never once have you even given me a goat that I could feast on and celebrate with my friends as this son of yours is doing now. Look at him! He comes back after wasting your wealth on prostitutes and reckless living, and here you are throwing a great feast to celebrate—for him!” The father said, “My son, you are always with me by my side. Everything I have is yours to enjoy. It’s only right to rejoice and celebrate like this, because your brother was once dead and gone, but now he is alive and back with us again. He was lost, but now he is found!”’”
Luke 15:11-32 TPT
The father raced out to meet his son, swept him up in his arms, hugged him dearly, and kissed him over and over with tender love. This father was anticipating his return. He was looking every day. And when he finally saw him, he raced hard after his son with an embrace that I know would have brought tears to anyone’s face.
If you didn’t know it, Poppy is a marathon runner and triathlon competing man. More than competing for stats, he competes for hearts even more. I can’t count the amount of times Poppy has experienced a repentant heart that felt a conviction spark. I think if you asked him, he would say it never gets old to see the returning of a wayward soul. Poppy has been holding space here in Franklin for those kind of souls for 46 years. He has helped grow up so many sons and daughters along their run called life.
Another very interesting thing I want to highlight is that Poppy had two sons. Neither one of them left to explore the world. They stayed humble and answered the call to minister beside their father. It’s an honor I know he holds very close to his heart. You see, this weekend will be the 4th anniversary of his oldest son, Ben’s, exit into eternity. He ran the church’s school for 20 years. When he passed, Poppy said, “I will come back out of retirement to handle it.” He took over the high school supervisor position and reclaimed his role as principal once again. He had handed that position to his son and God brought him back into the barn for another run. You can say it’s keeping him young.
The school mascot is a lion. The lion of the tribe of Judah, if you must know. Poppy is a lion in the Spirit himself and he loves to raise up his ferocious cubs. He takes spiritual growth very seriously and to see these kid’s eyes connect spiritually and come alive when entering our school never get olds. The Rock Church School has been running for 43 years. The students who have graduated are all over the country now. Our faith is strong and we are proud to know where we came from. We are servant leaders, teachers, professors, nurses, mothers and fathers, community builders, bankers, pastors, and all military branches serving our country. We do not boast of these accomplishments that have come from this small school of students, for we know that God sees it all and for us that’s always been enough. But, as a former graduate, I can say I have accomplished more than I ever thought possible and I believe I’m just getting started. The school prepared me for life, for I’ve learned that without a strong spiritual foundation to help you stay grounded when the storms of life come, I would not be where I am today. The foundation they laid, with my parents help of course, has set me up to handle any and all storms with grace and a smile on my face. No other education can really give you that in our area, and for that I am eternally grateful for my parent’s financial eternal investment.
I didn’t know that this would be a plug for the upcoming coming school year, but here I am typing it and so I will be obedient to say it. It’s been a blessing to attend Rock Church School and an even greater joy to see my children grow here too. It’s been a generational blessing and part of our kingdom legacy, to impart spiritual, educational, and athletic principles with an eternal kingdom perspective. This is not a collective. This is our sole objective, to seed kingdom truths in these little hearts called shoots.
So, thanks Poppy for everything—the prayers I never heard, the sacrifices I never saw, the kindness done in silence, all the things make you a pretty amazing Poppy.
One last thing, on June 5th, he came up to me and gave me a lingering hug since it was my wedding anniversary. I believe the Holy Spirit prompted him to linger, for his daughter-in-love needed his loving kindness to release her internal sadness. It was an amazing hug. It brings tears to my eyes to write it. Love you, pops🥺.
The kingdom of heaven is at hand and your daughter-in-love has a fire in her bones to tell a lonely soul that her Heavenly Father is running after her—that He loves her deeply and He prayers for her daily. I believe this with all my heart. Thanks for saving lives, Poppy. Thanks for being a part of keeping mine in alignment.
Finally, only God knows the final number of souls saved by this young David the great, but it’s epic. I just know it!! You have stayed the course and for that I must REJOICE!!!
Until next time,
Connect to the Mender.
Be a sender.
Tune in next week for the next rendition of the Few Good Men addition.