Tuesday we unveiled our newly renovated space. We were hosting the movie “Hi My Name is Bill W” about the founding of the AA movement. Our excitement was marred when folks arrived carrying the news that our friend Jack had just collapsed, on his way to our program. The word was he had died! It was quite a shock and it put a damper on our evening. We were overjoyed the next day when Jack’s wife came to our Bible Study to tell us that he was not dead! While he is in very serious condition he is alive and we have hope.
Jack has been a great example to me over the years. He has had a variety of quite painful ailments and through it all has been a great encouragement to others. Barnabus, the Son of encouragement from scripture, must have been much like Jack. I remember visiting him in the hospital. He had been there for several months and had a succession of roommates. One of these roommates was a particularly unhappy guy but Jack had the solution. He told me “I gave him a good listening to!” We are praying that he can make a full recovery our world will be a bit less friendly without him.
Recently our friend Doug passed away after a lifelong battle with mental illness and a relatively short battle with cancer. Ten years ago when we were launching Up Town Church Doug came into our lives. He claimed the church as his church. He was one of the first to go to Deer Island with us. His presence helped shaped the way our community developed. He was a gifted evangelist who made friends and brought friends. He came when the ‘church planters’ outnumbered those who would find a home with us and he personally opened the door to the world of mental health. So many of the gentle folk who have become our dear friends are so as a direct result of Doug and the way God could use his gifts.
I will be eternally grateful for these two gentlemen. They more than most deserve the sobriquet ‘gentleman’. I wish that all of us would use our gifts as freely as these two. The world may not long remember them but eternity will attest to the epic value of their difficult lives lived well!