Collin Calhoun uses his musical ability to lead worship and praise the Lord. BAGLEY FAMILY/Special
CHATSWORTH — When I heard the story of Collin Calhoun, the grandson of Bob and Evelyn Bagley, I thought of a quote from America’s 19th century essayist, lecturer, and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson. He insisted, “The purpose of life is not just being happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Many Georgia Baptists know that the Bagleys have carved out a significant place for themselves in Christian service. After more than a half-century of ministry and providing leadership as the associational missionary for the North Georgia and Murray County Baptist associations for 32 years, Bob Bagley retired at the end of 2018.
Although the Bagleys’ ministry sparkles with multiple successes, they have also had their challenges and struggles along the way. In July of 2010, their daughter, Lisa, and wife of pastor Brian Malcom, died after a valiant battle with cancer at age 50. Their daughter, Susan, has been battling cancer for 13 years. Both Bob and Evelyn have also had health issues that would have greatly impeded less determined saints.
The Bagleys can also testify to the restoring grace and redeeming love of a merciful God. They were faced with an unexpected and disappointing circumstance 22 years ago when an unmarried Susan informed them that she was pregnant. Bob recalled, “We immediately went to our pastor. This was necessary because Susan was the church pianist. We further decided that we would abide by his answer even if it meant leaving the church.
“Though the pastor was a young man, his wisdom was evident in his answer. He said, ‘We will not cast her aside, but we will stand with her through this.’ The church confirmed his decision when they voted to keep her as pianist.”
Bagley continued, “We were advised by others to get her out of town and one even suggested an abortion. Evelyn and I determined to love and support Susan through her pregnancy and we knew we would love her baby. Collin’s birth was an exciting time and he was a beautiful little boy. They lived with us the first two years and we were privileged to love and spoil him.
“Susan continued to play the piano, so he was always in church. The people at church loved him as we did and that was all he knew in his early years. I believe that environment played a big part in Collin becoming a fine Christian.
“As time passed Susan’s acceptance by the church strengthened her commitment to serve the Lord. When Collin was 18-months- old Susan was employed by the Georgia Baptist Convention where her spiritual growth was greatly enhanced. As her relationship with the Lord grew, Carol Cymbala’s song, “He’s Been Faithful,” became a vital part of her testimony.
The words of the song are:
“In my moments of fear
Through every pain, every tear
There’s a God who’s been faithful to me
When my strength was all gone
When my heart had no song
Still in love He’s proved faithful to me
Every word He’s promised is true
What I thought was impossible
I’ve seen my God do
He’s been faithful, faithful to me.
“He’s been faithful, faithful to me
Looking back His love and mercy I see
Though in my heart I have questioned
And failed to believe
He’s been faithful, faithful to me.”
Bagley added, “Susan has a beautiful voice and she touched a lot of people when she sang that song. I believe her strong faith and being Collin’s mom have helped her survive her cancer through all these years.
“We have always tried to be a part of Collin’s life and by our actions show him how a Christian should live. We love him dearly and have tried to demonstrate that every way possible. Being present for his school and sporting events became a part of our routine. He has responded to our love by loving us in return. He is more like a son than a grandson.
“We rejoiced when Collin was saved at age ten in a Danny Lovett Associational Crusade. On the last night of the crusade Danny preached a great sermon and Collin took my hand and asked if I would go forward with him to make his profession of faith. I shall never forget the moment he invited Jesus into his heart. Our pastor gave me the privilege of baptizing him.”
Collin added, “My grandparents played a more important role in my youth than either of them realized. Being able to have ‘Grandpa’ step into that father figure role when I didn’t have a father; and have ‘Gran Gran’ be that mother-like figure while my Mom went through chemo and wasn’t able to fulfill that role due to health problems was probably the biggest factor in me growing into the man I am today. I had to grow up and become a man faster than most; and I am grateful ‘Grandpa’ gave me the example that I needed to model.”
Collin played three years of high school football, but his love for music opened the door for him to lead worship for his youth group and ignited a passion to serve the Lord. He now plays four musical instruments, has written several songs, and leads worship on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Collin recently graduated from Shorter University where he successfully honed his musical skills.
“I think Shorter was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Collin exclaimed. “It was a place to not only grow in my faith and passions, but to grow up as a man and develop lifelong friendships. God has taken situations that looked hopeless for a season and shown me that He was working even when I did not see it.”
Collin is motivated by music and mercy. He faithfully serves his church in the ministry of music and is also a 911 operator. He explained, “For a long time I have wanted to be involved with people at their worst times. I love being in the trenches with people and this is an avenue where I can be a cog in a system that is all about helping those in need.”
One 911 dispatcher commented, “We must always remember that it’s our voice in the darkness that gives hope to those who really need it.” That is the objective of every 911 dispatcher, the objective of Collin Calhoun, and should be the objective of every Christian.
J. Gerald Harris served as editor of The Christian Index from May 2003 through June 2018, when he was named senior editor. He retired from his editorship at the end of December 2018.