John Roundtree: A Man Larger Than Life

Occasionally, I come upon a story that is moving, remarkable, and worthy of sharing with others.  
Such was the case recently, when a few hundred others and I sat spellbound (many of us in tears) as we listened to Pastor Robert Roundtree, a very prominent local pastor, tell the story of his father.  
I was so moved by the things he shared about him that even then I knew I had to write about it.  I have known Pastor Robert Roundtree for well over thirty-seven years.  
As a matter of fact, we met in the Army at Fort Bragg in 1978.  It was through the ministry and witnessing of my brother, Earl, and I that he got saved not long after we first met.  
When he got out of the Army, he decided to stay in Dillon, where both my brother and I lived.
His wife, Tunya, and young two year-old son, Carlos, moved in with me and my wife. They stayed with us for nine months until they were able to get a place of their own.  This was a time of adjustment and growing for all of us as we shared the little two-bedroom mobile home together.  
A bond was formed over those nine months, as we witnessed the birth of their second child, a daughter named Shannon, who I not only prophesied the gender of, but who I also named.  
During the next few years, many things transpired in the lives of Pastor Robert and Tunya Roundtree.  
Three more children were added to the family:  Ebony, Maria, and Robert.  After serving faithfully for several years as a deacon, minister, and Elder under the tutelage of Pastor Earl and Denise Goings at Faith Tabernacle Christian Center in St. Pauls, North Carolina, he was confirmed, commissioned, and released by the church to organize his own ministry.  
He started Bible study and prayer in the Fork Community at the home of a dear mother by the name of Emma McLean.  
The home service quickly grew until it became Miracle Temple Family Fellowship, which is now located in Lake View, South Carolina.  
What started as a house service in Fork has now become, to the glory of God, the fastest growing church in Lake View with a membership of well over 250 people.  It has a diverse membership of African Americans, Native Americans, and others from across the region – from Robeson County in North Carolina to Dillon County in South Carolina.  
On October 25, 2015, Pastor Roundtree shared the story of his father, John Roundtree, who was genetically not his father.  He had always wondered why he did not look like any of the other members of his family.  His curiosity would be solved at the death of his father, John Roundtree.  
His mother, who had committed an act of sexual indiscretion with another man and thereby conceived him, wanted to know had his father shared the truth about who his biological father was.  Those words completely floored him!  
When he was able to muster up enough strength to answer her, although he had been blindsided and greatly disturbed by this ugly truth that surrounded his conception,
Pastor Roundtree said he told his mother that he did not care about what she and that “other man” had done and that was between the two of them.  He emphatically reminded her that as far as he was concerned, John Roundtree was and will always be his father.
As he told the story of this very unusual and exceptional man, I thought that the story of John Roundtree needed to be shared.  Here was a man who never made an issue out of the fact that his wife cheated on him and got pregnant with another man’s baby.  John Roundtree, like the Prophet Hosea in the biblical narrative, was able to forgive his wife for what she had done.  
According to the account of his son, Robert, he never held it against her.  His love for her covered her fault and he never allowed it to make him bitter or vindictive.  John Roundtree shielded his son from the ugly truth of what his wife had done and never treated him any differently from his other children who he knew was his biologically.
To be completely honest about it, while Robert was growing up, he was perhaps the favorite son.  Whenever John Roundtree would whip Robert, he would stress and remind him that he was his son.  John Roundtree was the type of man that some in their distorted opinion would classify as not showing affection.  He was the non-touching and silent kind, perhaps like his father before him, whose love and affection were not spoken through words, hugs, or kisses.  Nevertheless, he spoke loudly, fluently, and continually through the love language of providing for his family, his disciplining and maturing of his children, and his commitment to be vigilant and protective of his wife and his baby son, even to his hurt.  He sealed his greatness — his love as a man was larger than life; larger than the pain and hurt that had been unduly inflicted upon him.  
Despite all of this, John Roundtree was also able to help his wife raise two of her nephews, ages five and six months old, after their mother died.  His last heroic act was that he refused to leave this life saying or doing anything that would hurt his beloved son who he loved until his last breath.
Not long after the death of his father, Pastor Roundtree was able to finally meet the man who God had chosen to be the sperm donor.  The man who had helped to bring about his conception that his mother could have terminated through an abortion.  The Lord be praised and she must be commended for having the conviction and courage to have a baby that was not her husbands, as well as the intestinal fortitude to endure the pain and shame that accompanied the experience.
At their meeting, the man who was Pastor Roundtree’s biological father wanted him to refer to him as father.  This was something that was impossible for Pastor Roundtree to do.  
How could he betray his real father, the man who had taken him into his bosom and heart, the one who had given him the best he had to give all of his life, his last name, and his love?  There was not a man alive who could take his place.