In 1986 I joined the staff at Central Christian Church in Mesa, AZ as an intern for 12 months (and now our home church supporting our ministry here in the UK). It was a year of many lessons, one of them being persistence and patience. One Sunday not long after we arrived that August, Rod and Bobbie visited the church, and I phoned them a couple days later as one of my responsibilities. They were busy and couldn’t talk; would I phone another time? Of course, that wasn’t an issue, but I didn’t know that this same conversation would be repeated with them for about four or five months! Finally, they invited me to their home and a friendship began. Rod was selling swimming pools at the time, and he showed me designs for installations, along with his back yard plants and roses. And then I shared with them the story of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and not long afterwards baptized Rod and Bobbie as followers of Jesus. They both became active in the church family.
In the years following our departure from Arizona, first to Tennessee, then Virginia, and then England, we were able to keep in contact with Rod and Bobbie. When we would visit AZ and our many friends and supporters in the church, we could always see the handiwork of Rod with the roses and other flora of the church campus. Often we would see Rod motoring around on a golf cart, he would see us, stop with a smile, and give us a hug.
Bobbie passed away a few years ago after a long battle with cancer. Rod later married Jeanne, a delightful companion to Rod. This morning we heard from Jeanne that Rod had passed away on the 4th of December. We mourn Jeanne’s loss, as well as the families of Jeanne and Rod. We have never met any of the family, and I suppose we are typical of many who were touched by Rod (and Bobbie) but didn’t know their children or other family members. To them and to Jeanne, and to God, we say ‘thank you’ for this kind and gentle man and the place he had in our lives. Our loss is heaven’s gain; we anticipate a hug and a smile from him again one day.