I called Bro. Bob's wife, Beth today. He is 70, had back surgery, with a background of Parkinson's, then contacted pneumonia, became so sick he has a feeding tube, but yet he is recovered enough to be in rehab now.
I met Bro. Bob and Beth when my husband and I made the journey to Florida to go to Bible College. Those were rough years, we went from a beautiful home to grungy apartments, once a trailer home given to us rent free for over a year. We left good jobs. I was an administrative assistant to the City manager.
We began college, and our then 12 year old daughter became very depressed. I cried too much because I had left my 94 year old Grandma and young adult son in Wyoming, along with my home. Our oldest daughter came with us.
My husband had a midlife crisis and I left him for a while, my son died in Wyoming, my car was repossessed for, no - not for not making a payment - but for taking it across a state line without the bank's written consent. We could only find crummy jobs. My youngest daughter and I became very sick with a disease that took two years to diagnose. My oldest daughter's injuries from college basketball culminated in a back surgery.
I worked for Bro. Bob at a missionary agency, taking care of him, and 130 missionaries in around 50 different countries. He put up with me when I was in shock and grief. I've heard of some companies firing people after a death of a loved one. He put up with me when I lost any belief that God cared for me at all. Maybe for other people, but not me.
I got used to calling him "Brother Bob" which was a "foreign" way for me. He loved jokes and teasing. He was never really friendly with me. I was somewhat intimidated by him. I passed him notes rather than deal with him face to face. He is a praying man, a man of great faith. Probably a day did not go by that he didn't pray for me. Our days at the office were started with the employees in a circle holding hands and praying. Looking back, he was a spiritual dad to me in many ways. I was "hot stuff" at the City back home, but I was never "hot stuff" to Bro. Bob - somehow he was always ministering to me. I got back at him by baking him angel food cake with cherries, vanilla pudding, and cool whip in layers.
When I look back, I think God sent Bro. Bob the wounded ones...special wounded ones. I recovered my faith eventually, realizing that what this fallen world brings us and does to us while we are here makes God as sad as we feel or more sad. I realized God doesn't see death like we do, He sees it as His kids finally getting to come home and be loved on in person. My faith rose as I watched during a prayer service horrible bumps on my daughter's arms slowly disappear in front of my eyes...a skin disorder the docs said was permanent. I remember lying on the floor of the House of Prayer telling God I would die from the pain and then His love would flood over me as I lay on the floor weeping.
Bro. Bob used to pray that he would be instrumental in bringing one million souls to know Christ. I think he might have through all these years by mentoring and sending all those missionaries who touched all those people, who in turn touched more, and the waves kept going out. I think when he gets to heaven, he'll see them all. He and Beth helped found the church that eventually planted dozens of churches in the south and eastern U.S. and sent the missionaries out to plant church in dozens of other countries. When I go home to visit that church I feel like I'm coming home. Never has a place seen me through so much. I'm so lucky to have so many friends of different nationalities in so many countries and to have visited some far-away places.
The missions agency has changed. Bro. Bob retired about ten years ago. And the agency will never be the same. It still goes on though. I still hear from missionaries whom I (hopefully) made it easier for them to stay in the foreign field.
I would like to go see Bro. Bob and take him some flowers. But I do not think I will see him or Beth again until I get to heaven, as so many other great, truly great people that have gone on. One, Rick, a missionary to Kenya with such great heart and passion for the youth living on the streets in Nairobi. He worked so hard that his immune system broke down and he died in his late forties from cancer. He left two adopted African babies without a daddy. He audio taped a journal as he slowly died with some of the most wonderful thoughts and so much love in the words.
Oh, I could write of some great people, and we all have the same spiritual daddy, Bro. Bob.