Thirty-five years ago my bride and I drove away from Texas. I had finished my seminary education and had accepted a call to pastor a small church in Oregon. Texas had won many memories for us after four years of grueling graduate studies.
Now, the beginning of a life in professional ministry lay ahead of us. Our vision was vague and our hopes were naive but we were eager to get started. It seemed like our whole life was ahead of us.
Before we drove away and left Dallas in our rearview mirror, we said our goodbyes to very good friends. We had shared both joys and tears with some amazing people. Tears of joy separated us as we parted company from each other for what would become decades ahead of us.
Two great friends were Danny and Becky. Our friendship was forged in the crucible of youth ministry. Together we had been a part of a volunteer staff to build into the lives of the Jr. High population of Grace Bible Church in Inwood Road.
Some would laugh and agree that any volunteers in a church Jr. High ministry would discover a bond of fellowship. Not only is it a bond of fellowship it may be a something similar to the Stockholm syndrome. Pressure from the threat of bodily danger forms a desperation connection between the innocent and the terrorists.
Actually, the age of a Jr. Higher is ripe for a strong connection with any adult who would venture to begin a mentor relationship with a young person in this season of life. They love a hero. A hero to them is just about any adult who would demonstrate to them the love of Christ to them and their peers.
We on the staff had a ball working with these promising lives. Just as special were our times of building our friendships with each other. These friendships were born out of love for others and devotion to the mission that we all embraced.
The four of us connected. We laughed, cried, hoped, dreamed, teased and made memories that have lasted for a lifetime. Then, after years of Christmas cards and an occasional word from mutual friends we ended up at the same camp ground on the same day 35 years later.
Our smiles and embrace from immediate recognition were joyous. Laughter turned into conversation as we caught up with life. Reunions can never be oversold.