A visit with old friends
By A. Ray Lee
I was delighted when Frank and Sandy, friends from many years ago, came by recently for a long-overdue visit. Frank and I first connected when I was a single seminary student in New Orleans and he was a participant in the youth group at a church we both attended. We found much in common although I had grown up in the rural South and he had a more traveled background. Our friendship developed over a number of months during which we participated together in various ministries including for a time when we shared leadership of a mission congregation.
At the time, Effie and I were in a long-distance relationship as she was serving out a commitment as a short-term missionary to Cuba. We had planned to be married when her term was completed about the time I was scheduled to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Frank had not yet met Sandy and I’m sure he must have grown tired of hearing how much I wanted to see Effie and talk with her. But as good friends do, he listened patiently.
When Castro threatened the lives of Americans, Effie’s mission board withdrew her for her safety late in her first year of service. We advanced the date for our wedding and were married in December. Shortly thereafter Sandy, a true Southern Belle, came into the picture when Frank, in preparation for a lifetime of Christian ministry, enrolled in Mississippi College where she was a student. In due time, they were married. Our friendship continued to deepen in the following months.
Fast forward many years when our areas of ministry had led us to locations far removed from each other by space and time and we had lost touch. Frank and Sandy were on a road trip that would bring them close to Hartselle and had searched the Internet to locate me.
While we visited, the years seemed to roll back as we shared stories of ministry in which we had been engaged; discovering our journeys in life had been much alike. At times Frank and I had struggled in ministry, but we continue into our ninth decade of life while the majority of our peers have long been retired or deceased. He continues shepherding as a pastor and bible teacher to needy congregations.
Sandy’s journey has paralleled Effie’s. She retains her vivacious personality and spirit as she continues to reach out to students long after most teachers have retired. She has a passion for traveling and writing while also being active in Christian ministry with Frank.
When the time came for them to continue homeward to New Mexico, the lyrics of a song written many years ago by Joseph Parry came to mind. “Make new friends, but keep the old. These are silver those are Gold.”