I am sitting in a Starbucks in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida awaiting my flight to return home after the 70's Youth Group Reunion that I have been attending over this past weekend. If you missed what the reunion was about, please see my last Blog post below.
The entire weekend was filled with unexpected conversations and unexpected connections: People I hadn't expected to see, changes in people's lives that I hadn't anticipated (all good), and seeing some people that I forgotten about after 33 years.
The first photo shows me with two men who were in middle school when I had the privelege to pour into them. They are now both successful husbands and fathers, who are seeking to serve the Lord as they live their out lives in their families, their jobs and in the world.
Being able to reconnect with my Youth Pastor, Mark Silkey, whom I hadn't talked to for five years was a treat. He is currently living in Oklahoma, and as he addressed the over 150 attendees, reminding us that we are all part of a body, each person having an important function, and as a group, a team, we were effective, and can continue to be effective in changing our world, I was taken back to the times he spoke before us when we were students.
Mark had an incredible effect on my life 30+ years ago, and some would have thought that I still idolized him to such a point that we both arrived at the Saturday afternoon picnic in khaki shorts and orange shirts (pictured). I promise, it wasn't planned!
I was invited to stay at the home of LC Campbell, who was one of the pastors at that church in the 70's. Not only was he instrumental in giving me a strong spiritual foundation as a high school student and young adult, but he invited me to plant a church with him in the early 1980's, and he continues to have a strong influence on my life. I knew his daughters when they were infants, ministered to them when they were middle school students, and now see them with their own children, seeking to raise them to be Godly.
The down times with LC, away from the public events of the Reunion weekend proved to be invaluable as we shared from personal and ministerial struggles, joys and victories, and inspired renewed vision in each other for the future. He will always remain my mentor and friend.
I was also privileged to spend focused time with a couple of the young men, Rick and Scott (pictured), who I had been able to influence in the past, to hear what was happening in their lives and how they were in turn reproducing themselves in the lives of others. Both are serving as pastors, one in California after having planted a church in London, and the other had returned to our hometown in Florida and had planted a church. Seeing what was going on in their lives was a great encouragement to me.
The greatest surprise for me came at the previously mentioned Saturday picnic. I was sitting at a table, reconnecting with some of my peers from the 70's, and I felt that I vaguely knew the lady sitting across from me. After introducing myself to her and hearing her name (again, I only vaguely remembered her), I returned to my other conversation. A minute later she interjected with, "I remember you. You sat with me in a room when I was in middle school and you led me to faith in Christ! Thank you." Needless to say, I was humbled. I literally had to excuse myself from the conversation while tears filled my eyes. I had forgotten, but she remembered.
Now that was an unexpected connection!