The past few days have been all about crossing borders: from Nova Scotia into New Brunswick; sitting in line to cross back into the US (wondering if they will let us in even though we have US passports:) crossing state line after state line moving further south into more and more warmth. As we stopped in Massachusetts to eat lunch at a rest area I remarked how hot it was! “It’s 29!” Anita exclaimed—about 84! We have become so Canadian.
We have come south to spend time with our daughters in WV for a few days in a little cabin in the woods. Penny (Savannah and Jon’s dog) and I are keeping the house safe from bears and little rabbits that might be hopping by while a run is made to the grocery store. Alison and James are on their way.
And so I was just perusing Facebook when I saw the news. This morning at 6:30 Lester E. Williamson crossed that ultimate border. He passed away in Mauldin, SC.
To say that this hit me hard would be an understatement! L.E. and I have known each other longer than either of us cared to confess. Both of us were from NC and got to know each other working summer missions there. In the years that followed, we both worked as Youth Ministers in NC and then in SC. I recommended L.E. to First Baptist Mauldin, so I will take some credit for that gift.
But L.E. was such a gift to so many! He had a way of taking in young people from all walks of life and loving them into the kingdom. He took them to camps and retreats and mission trips and raised them into the kind of men and women that are now leading congregations—either as ministers or teachers, or just fabulous members. He had this goofy laugh and way of being that you just couldn’t resist loving back!
I don’t know if I have ever had a more different friend! We were both ministers, both youth ministers, both from NC but…. I don’t know if there was much we agreed on! Yet L.E invited me to lead a youth camp one summer. I often called him for ideas and recommendations. We were the Odd Couple! Theologically and politically, L.E. was much more conservative than me. We disagreed, but never argued, maybe because we just knew it would be a waste of time. Neither of us were going to change. It was also a waste of time because, well, there were some things that were more important. Our deep friendship. And I think that is why I am sitting here this afternoon grieving so deeply! I will miss my friend!
In one of those days early in our careers L.E. told me he had a dream of moving back to Eastern NC and opening up a pig farm. I thought he was joking, because that is exactly the kind of thing he would joke about. But he was serious! L.E. really wanted to raise pigs!
He never got to live out that dream, but of those of us he raised!
It is interesting that the cause of his early death was heart issues. But those of us who knew him know that nothing could be further from the truth. Lester E. Williamson had no heart issues! He had more heart and shared more of it with others than any one I may have ever known.
So many have posted that wonderful, and so fitting verse today. “Well done thy good and faithful servant!” As you cross that final border we give you back into the hands of the God who loved us enough to share you with us.
Thanks be to God!
Bon voyage, dear friend!