"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
I first met Mason Hutcheson when I was in grade school, and he was a young extension agent working with the 4-H clubs in our county. He was friendly, courteous, and loved his work with the community. I came to know him much better after I came to faith in Jesus Christ at Virginia Tech in 1971. In the summer of 1972, along with a number of others, we began a youth-outreach ministry in Culpeper called the Son House. We also served together many years with the leadership of a congregation in our community. As of this year, our friendship spanned fifty years. No other Christian man has influenced me more than he has.
What follows, briefly, are some of the big things I remember about him.
First, his love of Scripture. He exemplified to me, and taught all of us repeatedly, to daily read the Scriptures, to memorize passages, to apply them to ourselves, and to use biblical truth in our conversations and correspondence. He was truly a "man of one book", and his Bible was filled with many notations. Early on I learned to take God at his word -- to trust his promises, and to obey his precepts. Mason loved the Gideon ministry, and weekly he would visit the nearby prison to share God's word with interested inmates.
He was also a good mentor and disciple-maker. To me he was a spiritual father. He had a heart for all ages, and a special care to disciple young people. In the summer of 1972, along with others, we began the Son House ministry together. He had that unusual God-given ability to reach beyond generational boundaries (Mal 4:6; Joel 2:28). After my college graduation I worked at his commercial greenhouse with my then-future wife. We received so many valuable lessons from Mason and his wife Joyce, regarding marriage, work, relationships, and life in general. One of my earliest lessons was learning how to treat women with respect, and to stand when a woman entered the room.
Another prominent memory was Mason's joyful walk with the Lord. He perpetually seemed fresh and buoyant in spirit, always learning something from the Lord. He was never flippant about God, but he was rarely somber. Even to his old age he was quick to laugh.
Then there was his prayer life, and his missions-mindset. Next to his stack of Scripture memory cards were his cards filled with prayer requests from our community, from around the country, and from around the world. He was faithful to uplift others in prayer. He was quick to ask about and make note of answers to prayer. Early in my Christian life, when we would have lunch together in his home, he would pray before the meal, and he literally would pray around the world -- for this missionary, for that conference, for this need, for that people group. I must admit that sometimes I would offer to pray before the meal, so that we might get to it a little sooner!
Then, his integrity comes to mind. He lived a life above reproach. He was careful to maintain proper boundaries. He avoided conflicts about money by giving freely, and not holding debts against others. It troubled him deeply when Christians fought over money issues.
Next, he was conciliatory and forgiving. I never, in the many years knew him, saw him hold a grudge, be bitter, or nurse a personal injury from others. Like the Apostle Paul under arrest in Rome, Mason was able to see the advance of the gospel and God's good purpose in all things (Phil 1:12-18).
Finally, I remember his zeal for God's work. He never seemed to lose focus on the work of the Lord (1 Cor 15:58). He embodied the principle of staying in the race set before us (Heb 12:1-2). In the words of the Apostle Paul, Mason fought the good fight, finished his race, and kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). Now, at last he has entered into his rest!
Our prayers are with the family, may the Lord comfort them all.
December 21, 2021
Photo above is of Mason his family taken in 1964. Below, is Mason with my wife and me, taken in our home in 2007.