Thousands attended a memorial service Sunday for Dr. Michael Guido as icy winds and rain battered the walls of a massive tent where the services were held at Guido Gardens in Metter.
Guido, who passed away Feb. 21 at 94, was known around the world for his "Seeds from the Sower" ministry, based in Metter.
Friends, family and local dignitaries including Gov. Sonny Perdue and Congressman John Barrow were seated upon a dais underneath a tent designed to look like a chapel. Local musician Archie Jordan, whose song "What A Difference you Made in My Life" was recorded by country singer Ronnie Milsap, performed selections from his works " Songs for the Sower" as people were seated.
Strong winds buffeted the tent, supported by large steel frames, but momentarily stilled as the familiar sounds of birds singing filled the air, prefacing one of Guido's "Seeds from the Sower" radio spots. The particular selection was about Heaven, and those in the crowd listened to Guido's familiar voice as he said " Wait until you see the other side. Have you made a reservation for heaven?"
Trinity Baptist Church Pastor Joe Eason spoke after an invocation from Bruce Allen and music by Men of Praise and Eternal Vision.
"I had three emotions at one time," Eason said, referring to his feelings upon hearing Guido had passed away. "Sadness, which I think all of us felt. We'll miss him - a very important part of our lives has been removed ...
"Also a sense of gladness ... that he was called home to a place he has spent his life showing people how to get there," he said. "And excitement ... the wonder of what he is doing now."
Eason spoke of the impact Guido has had in his 60-plus years of ministry and said although Guido is gone, his work lives on.
"His works follow him to glory and he's going to receive rewards for those works," he said. "The impact Dr. Guido has had in this world has not ended ... the labor he began will continue ... as people continue to plant the Seeds from the Sower."
He recalled Guido's habit of always making whoever he spoke with feel like the most important person, save Jesus Christ. "He loved people," he said. "I don't think I have ever seen a bigger heart. He loved people but most of all, he loved Jesus."
No change ... but different
Dr. Larry Guido, Michael Guido's brother who will take up the reins of the ministry, spoke briefly.
"What you saw in public was what he lived in private," he said of his brother's constant love for God and ever-present good nature. "There was no difference."
Larry Guido vowed to carry on his brother's legacy.
"Nothing will change but everything will be different," he said. He told of Michael Guido's last moments, and his "last sermon."
He said he spent several moments reading the Psalms to his brother, who kept touching his hands together. Then he said the Sower spoke in a strong voice: "We must take the word of God from our hands to our heads, then from our heads to our hearts, and back to our hands so we can show God's love, and we must show God's love better and longer than anyone else."
Bucky Kennedy, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Vidalia, spoke next about how Guido helped influence his life and how Guido asked some time ago if he would preach at his funeral. He sprinkled humor throughout his speech, reflecting Guido's lightheartedness and wit.
"The only thing he took seriously is Jesus Christ and leading people to Christ," he said. "Everything else came second. He would say (to us all) 'miss me, but don't miss Jesus.’"
Kennedy spoke of how, not long before he passed, Guido asked to go to his favorite spot, Guido Gardens, but was too weak. Soon afterward he was making motions with his hands, Kennedy said. He spoke of how Larry Guido's wife Mary, whom Michael Guido called his " sister-in-love," asked what he was doing, Michael Guido said "I'm picking golden flowers in the garden."
Gov. Perdue also spoke during the memorial services.
"His whole life was dedicated - all the seeds he sowed were for the Savior! The best way we can honor Michael Guido is to honor the Savior. All those seeds he has sown all these years - may they fall on fertile ground."