When we lived in Southern California for eleven years from 1970 to 1981, my best friend was a man named Keith Compton. We taught together in a ghetto school when Karen and I first moved there, and Keith and I became fast friends from then on. We hiked together, climbed mountains together, sailed together, and even camped out at the bottom of the Grand Canyon together. Once, as couples, we flew to San Francisco one night, had dinner there, spent the night, and the next day took a train back to Los Angeles spending the day looking at the beautiful scenery all down the California coast. One Saturday, just to be able to say we did it—we went to the desert, the mountains, and ended at the beach, all in the same day. At the time, neither Keith nor I were what anyone would call Christian. We never saw each other again after Karen and I moved to Arkansas in 1981. Many years later, after completing seminary and being ordained as a United Methodist pastor, we made contact again. I had become a Christian in just about every way someone could, and I was nervous about reconnecting with someone from my rather checkered past. Not only had Keith also become a Christian, he was in charge of promoting and setting up all the “Promise Keepers” events in Southern California. We had both come a long way, baby. We still shared a passion for motorcycles and through the internet and later Facebook were able to keep up with each other. Keith introduced me, electronically, to a good friend of his, Richard Truitt, who was my age and a great Christian man. Richard became a big fan of my blog, not only reading it every day but almost always commenting on it or sharing it with others. He was very articulate and on many, many occasions his comments on what I had written made me feel very good indeed. He had what Thoreau said was the highest of the arts—the ability to improve the quality of another person’s day. I never met him in person as I have never been back to California since the day I left over thirty-five years ago, and he was never able to travel to Africa. Sadly, for me especially, Richard passed away suddenly at his home on the 14th of this month. I didn’t hear about it until my friend, Keith Compton, sent me the announcement. I wrote Keith immediately telling him of my sorrow and that I was sharing his pain. This was his Facebook post back to me:
Keith Compton: Thank you Charles. Richard was a very gentle soul who loved God mightily. I will miss his wit and wisdom. He always brought his friend, Jesus, with him whenever we got together. You and Richard and Will Rogers, never met a man you'all didn't like.
I hope and pray that Keith’s words will be true of me at my passing. I just love the way Keith said that “He always brought his friend, Jesus, with him whenever we got together.” Oh, that that could be true of me, and oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if that was true of you as well. It can be because Jesus will always go with you. It’s up to you to see that others know that He is with you whenever you meet another person. Can you do that? Can you be like my friend, Richard? Can you always bring your friend, Jesus, with you whenever you meet another? I believe in you. I believe you can.