I had the opportunity, along with some friends and family, to meet Bro. Carroll and his daughter Naomi on three occasions. He impressed me in a number of ways. I recall walking into his house one time to find him studying about the city of London, England. He was in his mid-nineties at the time and of course had no hope of ever visiting the place, but obviously enjoyed learning. I learned that he was an educator long before he became a missionary.
His memory was quite impressive. As he and Naomi would tell stories about Haiti and Mountain Faith Mission it was obvious that this elderly man continued to possess tremendous memory and intellect. At times Naomi would pause to ask her father to remind her of someone’s name or some other detail that she had forgotten. When Pastor Carroll would answer her, she would say, “Yeah, you’re right Daddy”.
Pastor Carroll lived down the street from the church he attended. By the time I met him he did not drive a car, but had a golf cart that he would drive to church. He would attend early morning prayer sessions at church, often arriving before anyone else, and opening the church door. I remember him telling of a recent incident of him returning home from church. As he was attempting to step up onto his patio he stumbled and fell, basically doing a somersault over his head. He told us that when he was a much younger man he had injured his neck, resulting in a stiff neck for many years. But as a result of the tumble he took as a man in his mid-nineties, “Now my neck is just fine,” he told, while moving his head from side to side!
Pastor Carroll told friends and myself numerous amazing stories from his time in Haiti, stories of miracle after miracle. But he was such an unassuming man that we had to listen closely as he talked, or we would be told of a miracle and miss the “big ending” as he would begin to tell of something else. He told of a time when he was a young man in the states and a eye doctor was visiting the small town where he lived. “The Lord had already told me that if I would serve Him, I would never have vision problems. But my family wanted me to have my eyes checked while the eye doctor was in town. He checked my vision and I have been wearing glasses ever since.” He believed his lack of faith in God’s promise was the reason he needed eye glasses. But he told, “Later the Lord told me that if I would serve Him, that when I was an old man I would not have many of the health problems of old people. I learned my lesson from having my eyes checked by the eye doctor, and didn’t doubt the Lord about my health.” He continued to be in quite amazing health into his upper 90’s, and died at the age of 101!
Pastor Carroll was an amazing man, a great Christian missionary. But as I mentioned previously, he seemed to be a very unassuming man. He lived next to a large church, where he attended. Despite the fact that he had served as a foreign missionary for decades, he was not one to call attention to himself. I recall being able to attend his funeral, along with Kenneth Akers and Denver McKay, who had both been able to meet Pastor Carroll as well. The funeral was held on a beautiful day in south Florida. I was frankly disappointed to see the small number of people who attended the funeral, being held in this large church he attended. I wondered how someone who was so impressive in his faith, a hero of the faith in my eyes, seemed to have been forgotten. But I also witnessed the fact that there were a number of Haitians who had traveled to Florida in order to pay their respects to the man who had “brought the good Gospel to our people” as one Haitian has described Pastor Carroll. These were people who were young men and women when the Carrolls had arrived in Haiti. These Haitians had been greatly influenced by the Carrolls and the eternal destiny of each one of them was changed as a result of the work of the Carrolls in Haiti. That contingent of Haitians represented hundreds and hundreds of Haitians who would also loved to have attended Pastor Carrolls’ funeral. But you see, those countless Haitians could never afford a plane ticket to the US. They couldn’t afford the money to purchase the passport necessary to fly. And due to the extreme poverty into which they were born, could never obtain a passport due to not possessing a birth certificate!
It occurs to me that it was not so important for a large crowd to attend Pastor Carroll’s funeral. Because I’m convinced that prior to the funeral on this earth, there was already great rejoicing in Heaven as Lee R. Carroll entered. Much rejoicing as he was once reunited with his wife and other family members, as well as countless Haitians who had been converted as a result of his ministry. And of course there was great rejoicing as Lee Carroll was finally able to see the face of The One who he had faithfully served and had spoken to countless times, as one talks to a friend.