Tonight I had the opportunity to pray with 2,000+ youth, leaders, and youth ministers in Frisco, Texas at Amplify, the SBTC Youth Evangelism Conference. I was invited by Jared McIntire. I've been anxious to see Jared and Michelle and have missed them since we served together at Silo Baptist Church outside of Durant, Oklahoma. Silo is a wonderful church and when I was on the faculty at Southeastern, I also served as their bivocational pastor. During my time there, we called a nineteen year-old college student as our youth pastor. Jared was engaged to Michelle then and they both served faithfully growing a youth group of three to well over 100. Our years at Silo were so blessed as we saw God bless time and time again.
One of the college students who came to Silo was Cara Puryear. She knew Jared and Michelle back in Altus where Michelle had grown up and where Jared interned for Zane Newton at FBC Altus. Through them I came to know and appreciate Zane.
Years later, we moved to Bolivar, Missouri where I served on the administration at Southwest Baptist University, I also had the chance to serve as a bivocational pastor alongside the founding pastor at Wellspring Baptist Fellowship. Among the great people I grew to love during my nine plus years preaching there Dana and I became close friends with several students including a young twin--Heidi's sister, Gretchen--and a young man named Josh Trimble. They were faithful members of Wellspring and among those we knew we'd miss most when we moved back to Oklahoma to serve at Oklahoma Baptist University.
One of our four sons is a student at OBU and is a member of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City where Mike Keahbone serves on the ministry staff. Mike is an OBU graduate who I have gotten to know through his ministry and preaching to my son, and through his visits to the OBU campus.
And here is where all of these threads come together. Tonight, all of us (Jared, Michelle, Cara, Zane, Josh, Gretchen, Mike, Dana and me) found ourselves together in an unplanned, serendipitous way that reminded me of my great love for them and how interconnected our lives become. The setting was unexpected: Amplify--the Youth Evangelism Conference in Frisco, Texas. When I arrived, I was escorted to a waiting room and within minutes, all of us were standing together, not realizing that everyone else would also be there. A nice surprise to say the least.
Jared, who had invited me to pray and participate in the YEC, is the Associate for Student Evangelism for the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention and is coordinating the conference.
Michelle, his secret weapon in survival and success and a gifted educator and coach to boot, was assisting with the conference details tonight, herding, directing, and helping with the logistics.
Cara Puryear also works for SBTC as a Ministry Assistant. She was here tonight also assisting with the logistics and details required for such a large event.
Among the OBU staff who worked this conference passing out t-shirts and meeting and recruiting potential students, was Josh Trimble who serves as an OBU Admissions Counselor.
Josh's wife, Gretchen was volunteering tonight too, pitching in to help distribute shirts to hundreds of young people at a time surrounding the OBU booth.
Mike Keahbone was scheduled to be the preacher for tonight's service and we visited about his influence on my second son.
Zane Newton walked up to say hello and we were both pleased to reconnect and catch up on the families.
What a nice and unexpected reunion and I enjoyed getting to introduce those whose paths have crossed mine to each other as their lives have now also crossed paths. What a nice reminder that as brothers and sisters sharing a common faith, we have a deep love and affection for each other.
And what a wonderful glimpse of the great reunion that awaits all those who are members of the family of God and how fun it will be to reconnect, visit, and enjoy the company and shared stories when we are all together one day in Glory. And that reunion will be neither unplanned nor unexpected. It will be providential.
I'm just saying, I'm looking forward to it!