The Sofge Files
Chance discovery surfaces sermons
(page 3 of 4)
The second of two sons born to parents who believed in hard work and discipline, young Robert Sofge followed his older brother into the army during World War II. The elder of the Sofge boys became a bomber pilot who saw the Orient from the skies; Robert became an army infantry bandsman who marched through Europe with a saxophone.
He wrote, “The people I saw at the end of the fighting struck hard at my heart. I was trained to hate them, but their poverty, their hopelessness, their total lack of direction … struck me so hard that I slowly began studying for some way I could be worth something to them or someone.” Robert set his sights on the ministry.
While in college, he served a church in Lake Butler. The opportunity allowed him to spend one full day each week working at the correctional facility in nearby Raiford. Of his experiences there, he wrote, “I liked the work with the men and at times could be of help to them even in the limited time I had there.”
The ministry took Robert, then a young husband and father, to Pennsylvania, and afterward, to Ocala, Florida for a few years. He wrote, “The church’s ministry to the unchurched — the need of loving the unloved and the unlovable — I could not dismiss from my mind. I now came to the only conclusion possible for me and that was to find a place to serve those who might be passed by for one reason or another, or who might be served by one who cared less than I care.”
The notes for Reverend Sofge’s sermons are evidence of his religious knowledge; but they are also evidence of his understanding that people have different learning styles. Each of Sofge’s sermons might be accompanied by an object lesson, scriptural reference, song, story or poem.
At that point in the lecture, Sofge left off from telling the story of his past and began to talk about what he was doing currently. But I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had just read, even after I put the lecture notes aside and two weeks elapsed. I felt certain that the people he had spoken of — the ones who were “passed by” — were those who had gathered to hear him speak. But who were they?