An old friend is in the hospice. He was the administrative bishop in Kansas who appointed me to my first church. Though only 62 cancer has brought him to the door of eternity.
We often walk through life with little thought of the way our lives intersect and impact one another. When I graduated from seminary I had three ministry options-- one in Virginia, one in Arizona, and one in Kansas. I chose Kansas because my cousin was attending the church there. John was the administrative bishop and upon my first meeting with him I was impressed at how personable he was. Both he and his wife are humble and people who reach out emotionally and take you in as a friend.
I will never forget the day that I felt like my ministry was coming to a screeching halt and the first person I thought to call was John. I’d had an accident working at the church I was pastoring in Georgia and soon found out that I had absolutely no insurance to cover my debt of around $60,000. I thought that my only recourse was to go bankrupt and I figured that would mean the end of my ministry. I called John literally crying at the prospect of leaving the ministry. John listened quietly until I had vented my fears and then he said, “Mark, I know that over the past thirty some years of growing up in West Virginia without a father that you’ve overcome bigger challenges than this. Trust God. He’ll get you through this.”
Thirteen years later he is fighting for his life, but his words are alive in my mind and heart. Shortly after talking with John, the hospital called offering to pay the bill off through indigent care, the doctor lowered his fees, and the church I was working for insisted on paying the remaining $4,000. Not a penny came out of my pocket.
I had come so close to packing it in and quitting, but an encouraging word from a friend made all the difference.
Thank you John for being my friend. (John passed on to glory, 4:00 am, July 18, 2008)