Sunday, April 18, 2010

A good friend is gone!

Jay Christie passed away yesterday morning, April 17, 2009. He was only forty eight years old. It was a hard day for me.

Charlotte and I have known Jay for over twenty years. We taught a Sunday School class for single adults and Jay was a leader in that group. Jay has done well as a professional working with Mercer Human Resource Consulting and twelve years ago he married Robyne whom he loved dearly.

We have reconnected in the last few years since we are now at First Baptist Church. When we first met Jay he was young, strong and healthy. But, what has defined much of his life has been a long list of physical problems including two kidney transplants and two rounds of Hodgkin's Lymphoma. We have walked with him through many of the hard times.

This week I was able to stop by his room in the SICU unit. Jay was already in a coma and we were not able to talk. I prayed earnestly for God to reach down and heal him. There were many others doing the same thing. God in His wisdom had different plans. I will admit that I often do not understand why God does things the way He does. So, I will trust Him now and ask Him why one day when everything will be much clearer.

Sometimes it seems trite to say, "he's in a better place." But he really is. What helped me the most was a story that a lady at church told me. She said that Friday morning around two or three in the morning, she was awake and praying for Jay when she saw something in the corner near the ceiling that looked like Jay, clothed in radiant white followed by what looked like angels. He turned and said, 'take care of Robyne for me.' Then he was gone. It reminded me that there is another dimension to life that we cannot see. Jay is no longer struggling. He is no longer taking any medications. He feels good! He is more than happy, he is filled with heartfelt joy. It told me that God really did have better plans for Jay.

It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said in Romans chapter 8:18-21:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

We who are believers really can look forward to being in 'a better place.'


CHRISTIE, Phillip Jay Jr., born December 12, 1961, passed into the arms of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on April 17, 2010. Jay is survived by his wife, Robyne Bentley Christie; his beloved puppies, Nalani and Noah; parents, Phillip and Frances Christie; sister, Peggy Elfers and her husband, Steve; and nieces, Caroline and Catherine. He is also survived by in-laws, Clayton and Sunny Bentley, Lynne and Steve Smith; and nephews, Phillip and William Smith. He graduated with honors from the College of William & Mary and the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. He was employed for 22 years at Mercer Human Resources Consulting. Jay lived his life as a humble man with a high level of integrity. The Lord came first in his life, followed by Robyne and the rest of his family. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to UNOS.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Quick Trip to Texas

We traveled to Texas last weekend in order to spend a few days with Charlotte's dad, Arvol Willingham.
We had a great visit. I think he lives for the days when his daughters come to visit.

As an added treat it is bluebonnet season in Texas. Bluebonnets are all over the place on the sides of the roads. The bluebonnets last only a couple of weeks then they are gone for the season.
Indian Paintbrushes are also common at this time of the year.
Saturday, a half dozen horses wandered onto Arvol's property. It seems that they had gotten loose and were causing a traffic hazard on a nearby highway. The sheriff's deputy asked that we allow the horses to stay on the property until the owner came to get them.
One of our chores was to burn a pile of brush that had been accumulating for three years. I was getting nervous when the flames got so high. Fortunately, those flames died down within minutes so the fire did not get out of hand!
Arvol is a musician that plays the piano and the guitar. He has entertained groups with his music for many years.
I managed to pick up a straw hat at a local flea market so that I will be able to fit in when I travel in Texas. When I got home a neighbor said, "It looks very Reagonesque!"

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God."
My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.
Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.
Psalm 31: 14-16, 19

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lloyd Atkinson retired last Thursday, April 1, after thirty-one years of service with the International Mission Board.
Lloyd and his wife, Sue, started as missionaries in Chile where they served together for several years. Later Lloyd accepted an administrative role in the Western South America Office. In the early 1980's Lloyd moved to the Office of Mission Personnel where he served as a Consultant, Department Director and ultimately Vice President.

Their daughter Jennifer was there with her children.

Debbie Williamson has worked in the office for many years. For the past three years she was the team leader for the Administrative Services Team under Lloyd's leadership.

Lloyd and Sue's son John and his wife Justine were there to honor Lloyd.

Carolyn Jackson and Jerry DeOliveira are two of the many retirees who were at the reception to honor Lloyd. IMB president, Jerry Rankin, was there to present Lloyd with his retirement certificate and gift and to honor Lloyd for his contribution to the work of the IMB.
During his work in the Office of Mission Personnel Lloyd oversaw the appointment of over five thousand career and two year missionaries to assignments in virtually every corner of the world. In the process he has been involved in making sure that the Good News of the Gospel his proclaimed to every people, language and nation.
I have worked directly under Lloyd for the past nineteen years. I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for his work and the way he supported me in my work. I always felt like Lloyd would back me when there was a question about my work. In addition, Lloyd was always good about keeping me informed about issues of significance that I needed to be aware of.
Lloyd made sure that everyone in the office felt comfortable sharing their concerns about issues that were on their minds. Lloyd demonstrated genuine concern about each person in the office.
During my time at the IMB I have been privileged to know a number of amazing people who have dedicated themselves to supporting the global mission enterprise from behind the scenes. Lloyd certainly represents the highest levels of commitment and dedication to faithful service.
"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
Matthew 25:21