By Ken Leach
It was a Thursday night and the gospel meeting in Perry, Florida had been well attended by enthusiastic brethren plus many visitors from the community. About fifteen minutes before services began I was standing in the lobby greeting those who had come to worship. As I turned towards the door, there stood the wife of one of the closest friends I have on this earth. They were vacationing in south Florida and had driven some six hours that day to surprise me with their attendance. Immediately I sensed something was not right with Betty as she asked me to step outside. I went to the front porch and there my friend Bob was standing clutching his chest and asking for someone to help him get to a hospital. I immediately went to Ken Cooper (the preacher at Spring Warrior in Perry) and he took off for the hospital with Bob and Betty.
Shaken, I re-entered the building and asked one of the elders if I could say a word to the audience before we began the service. With a deep breath, I began and explained the situation. Aren’t we blessed that God designed the deep breath? Then over one hundred brethren, in one accord, went to our Holy Father in earnest prayer beseeching him to care for our beloved brother. As I now look back on that occasion, I recall a little saying a friend of mine from Texas said one day when he learned that we had a mutual Christian acquaintance … “it isn’t a small world, it’s a big family.” Surely it was evident to me as never before that the “abundant life” of John 10:10 includes a “big family” of brethren who would pour their righteous hearts out for a brother and sister they had never met. I am told that a new feeling of togetherness came to that gathering of saints in Perry, Florida. I am told it did them good. I know it did me and Bob good.
As I talked the other day with my friend who survived the ordeal and is now home in Arizona, he said over and over how the many visits, prayers and phone calls strengthened him. He talked of his and Betty’s plans to travel next year to Florida and meet personally those wonderful Christians in Perry and Tallahassee who “shared the burden.” He spoke of renewed commitment to Christ and a new awareness of the blessings attendant to the “big family.” We shed a tear together when thinking of death, but more than that, over the blessings of being loved by those of like precious faith.
My heart felt thanks to those Perry brethren. You have strengthened me and encouraged me to good works. I am more committed than ever to lend a helping hand. How grand will be the great day when we can surround the throne and sing the new song together.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 11, p. 13
June 2, 1994