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I was thinking about some of the prayers from the past year that remain strong in my memory.
I remember the first Sunday after the storm at the Gateway Church of Christ in Pensacola. All those who were refugees from the hurricane were asked to come to the front and the elders gathered around us and prayed for us.
I remember Tim Gunnells calling me on the phone to encourage me. He shared with me the efforts he was making to get funding, volunteers, and supplies to Pascagoula. And he prayed for me.
I remember Roger Mills calling me from Biloxi to talk about the aftermath of the hurricane. He shared with me some of his experience with Hurricane Andrew in Homestead, Florida. We both cried together over the phone as he confessed that he could not go through this again … he was moving to North Alabama. In our tears, he prayed with me over the phone.
I remember sometime late last year sitting in the church office completely exhausted and not even knowing what to do with myself. A spiritual life minister from Otter Creek Church of Christ came in and spoke to me. He placed his hand on my shoulder and prayed a prayer of strength and encouragement.
I remember standing at the Memorial Drive Church of Christ in Tulsa, Oklahoma last March. Marvin Phillips on one side, Terry Rush on the other, as these brothers I have held in such high esteem for so many years prayed for me.
I remember several of us standing as a group in front of the Whites Ferry Road Church of Christ during a weekend retreat provided by that church for hurricane relief workers. The elders surrounded us with their prayers, laying hands on us as they offered up their petitions on our behalf.
I remember getting an e-mail from my friend Bobby, who told me that every morning at 9:00 he prayed for John Dobbs.
I remember an elder from Conway, Arkansas wanting to meet with me before they headed back home from a work trip. Bob said some very kind things to me, and then he spoke a sincere and powerful prayer.
I remember last Sunday night at a small group study in Georgia, with brothers and sisters gathered around Maggy and I … hands on our shoulders and backs as we sat in the circle, while they prayed over us.
I remember this morning in Tennessee as an elder I have never met before placed his arm around me and prayed for the Christians in Pascagoula as they worked hard to help people recover…and prayed for my family.
That’s not all. There are others. Over the course of these past several months people have prayed for me, for my family, for the ministry here, for those who were trying to survive the challenges before us, for our health, for our spirits, for the gospel to reach many, for … so many things. So many prayers … so many people … so many memories. I have prayed with people over the phone, most often with strangers. I have prayed with people in our foyer … once even for a lady who asked me to command a demon to leave her in the name of Jesus. Our elders have prayed together, as well as many in our church. Untold prayers have gone up for those suffering along the Gulf Coast. And God has heard every one of them.
Bob contemplates the virtue of pumpkin pie. Whenever I think about pumpkin pie I think about the three years I spent in braces. I loved pecan pie more, but was unable to eat it. So, my mother made pumpkin pie also … and I loved it. It is a symbol of grace to me.