One of the many parts of the Raleigh Fellows program is the opportunity to take seminary level classes. We get to learn from some really smart and wise teachers. This semester we are taking 4 classes: 1)Family Systems Theory, 2)Old Testament Studies, 3)Worldview, and 4)Spiritual Formation. These classes have included tons of reading and even more thinking. These classes are slowly expanding my perspective  on a lot.

One of the first assignments for our Spiritual Formation class was to talk about our death. We had to write our own Eulogies.. This was quite the experience. I had to think about my future and what I want to leave behind. I spent several hours praying about what the Lord could possibly have for me in my future. What could my legacy even be?

There surely are passions and dreams the Lord has placed on my heart. I look at how God has created a strong desire for youth ministry. He has blessed me with a huge heart to love people well. I have a passion to serve people with my gifts of hospitality and administration. Ultimately, he has been teaching me to love to seek him first above all else because that is where everything flows from.

Below is potential ways I see the Lord moving in my life. Below is my eulogy that speaks into my passions and desires, but also speaks more to dreams. The first thing is my eulogy is written from the perspective of my youngest son, Tom Tom. I have always thought adoption is in my future, but I also have a love for special needs kids. This is where Tom Tom comes into the picture. Tom Tom is my down syndrome son. I find myself already praying for him. That is a weird thought to think about, but one that brings a smile to my face. Picture him and his story about me.

Hi. My name is Tommy. But my dad called me, Tom Tom. My dad was my best friend and I am going to miss him a lot. We did everything together like eating ice cream out of the container, dancing to music with the family in the living room, and watching my favorite movies together even though he has seen them a hundred times. My dad was my best friend. But he was also friends with lots of people. One of his most favorite people was my mom, his wife, Lillian. Or as he like to call her, his Lily. They got married on June 19, 2019 in memory of his mom who couldn’t be there. He use to cook her whatever she wanted and take her on fun dates to the zoo. That was one of his favorite places. She was the love of his life. He use to look at her and smile. Then he would say, how did I get so lucky? They use to pray together all the time, but they would look into each other’s eyes instead of closing their eyes. That was so cool.

My dad and mom had 5 kids total including me, Tom tom. There is Ezra Cole, Annie Laraine, the twins (Nathaniel James and Sarah Claire), and then me. He would always tell us to love big knowing Jesus loves bigger. Man it must be fun now that daddy can hug Jesus since he always talked to him. My dad really loved talking to Jesus. We use to go to church where Uncle Joe was the pastor. Uncle Joe and dad were best friends growing up. Daddy use to be his Young Life leader. Dad worked for Young Life for 30 years. It was cool because we turned our garage into a club room. I always had tons of new friends coming in and out of our house. It was like an endless supply. He would stand up in front of all the kids and talk about how much Jesus loved each and every one of them. He would always tell them that God’s love was like a hug from me, Tom Tom. I liked giving hugs to everybody. He told me my hugs were a gift from God so I just wanted to give them to everybody. So I did.

After my dad stopped working for Young Life, he went to open a nonprofit called Tom Tom’s Heart. He did that for 15 years. It helps to help other special needs kids like me learn about Jesus and find jobs that we like to do. That is how I became a cook at George’s, dad’s favorite Italian restaurant. Dad and I use to cook together all the time. He would let me cut the vegetables. That was my favorite. He would work really hard to find businesses that would partner with his organization. He also brought me to Thrive every week where we all got together to talk about Jesus and how we saw Jesus each week. Dad had some other programs that helped my friends get a place to live and learn to live on our own. That is how I met my wife, Amanda. Dad decided to retire from Tom Tom’s Heart. Nate wanted to follow in dad’s steps and run Tom Tom’s Heart.

Dad and mom then took some time for themselves and traveled a lot. They wanted to find new places to have fun and see what else in the world there was. He said he wanted to find the Gospel in a new way and see how the faith was lived out in other parts of the world. He always had a desire to see the world until he realized his world was with his family who pushed him to love Jesus because he wanted to love us better. He and mom moved back after a couple years. Mom, dad, and all my brothers and sisters lived in the same city together. He wanted to be a grandpa, a father, and someone who you could sit and talk with for hours.

Dad use to always say that he wanted to open his own restaurant and hire friends from Tom Tom’s Heart. He never got the chance. Instead, I get to do that with my wife. Mom is also going to help us do it. She said dad would want us to. We are going to cook for people and they are going to pay whatever they want. This way all people no matter from where can always have food to eat. He lived a life that I was proud of. He loved people so well. He loved Dad always said to love big knowing Jesus loves bigger.

My eulogy speaks to a lot of things in my life that I pray the Lord has His Hands on. There are so many passions, desires, and dreams that the Lord has put on my heart. There are probably more that I haven’t even discovered yet and I look forward to continue walking in these. This assignment me taught me to dream big with God. I do not know where God will take over these next several months through the Raleigh Fellows program, or what the future holds. I do know that these passions and desires will be in my life in some sort of capacity. And for that.. I am blessed!

Richie Rojas