Life is full of “meetings and partings” but rarely do we get to have it the other way around. Two years ago I wrote an article: Memories And Lost Boys. If you missed it – check it out. It is because of that article going viral that one of my “lost boys” was able to do a “google search” for his own name – and stumble upon the article I had written several months before. This has taken all of us on a strange and wonderful adventure and ended yesterday in a “meeting” after a “parting” some 26 years before. When you read the article you will see that the brother, William (or Bill as we knew him back when he was just 18 years old) wrote me a comment saying, “two lost boys found” and ended up in many email and Facebook communications since then.
But I must back up. In the article it explains that Greg and I were youth pastors in Jeannette PA in 1984 and 1985. This is where our story began with these “boys” – four of them in fact listed in the above article. We had a special connection with them – all four boys dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ while we were there and Greg ‘baptized’ all of them as well. Then our world was turned upside down as the church board asked our senior pastor (a man we loved and looked up to) to resign after 10 years ministry. We had only been there a year, but it was not an option for us to remain without the pastor who had brought us to this church from where we were living in Fairbanks, Alaska. We soon found another position in New Castle, about 2 hours drive from Jeannette. The brothers, John and Bill came to see us while I was pregnant with Ashlee in early 1986. After that – the boys moved to New York with their mother and the others dispersed and went on with their lives. We lost touch. This was in a day before internet, email and cell phones. When you said goodbye – it was forever – there was no way to stay in touch. Here is what everyone looked like 27 years ago.
John is on the bike – Bill in the blue shirt.
Greg and Bill above.
John, Bill and Greg above.
Some of the girls we’ve never found – John, Bill and me above.
We lived in New Castle 3 1/2 years – and when our time was up in that church we looked to the West Coast where we both were from. Soon we settled in a little church in California where Greg was the lead and only pastor for 3 years. From there we ended up in Fort Worth, Texas, Vero Beach Florida and then back in Seattle where we have lived since 1995.
Not a year went by that I didn’t think of those kids in the youth group and especially the boys we had been close to. It’s funny to think of it – Greg and I were not much older than any of them – at the time it seemed HUGE! BUT the age gap closed in as I began to think of them and wonder where they were – knowing full well that these were not “boys” anymore but grown men – probably with families of their own – like us!
Fast forward to the age of email and internet. Opening doors for those of us who had literally lived all over the United States!! I was able to find some people through email – if they had been good about staying in touch – with others in was near impossible – like searching for a needle in a haystack. When internet searching became available right around the time of our first computer, back in the late 90′s – I looked every 6 months or so for those boys. When MySpace was all the rage – I looked for them then – when Facebook was more popular I looked again – every few months.
Fast forward to 2 years ago – the time when I wrote the article above about “lost boys”. I took a chance and listed their names – just on the perchance that someone would come across it – I didn’t know how – I just did it because you never know, right?
I forgot about it – and a few months later I found the two other boys on Facebook. We were so excited to find Randy and Todd were both on facebook by then – and had emails and Facebook conversations with them both. We even Skyped with Randy a couple of times and it was really wonderful to catch up on all the lost years. But still no Bill or John. We searched, Randy even helped me – and we looked for some of the other people from the youth group – but hit a couple of dead ends.
Then OUT OF THE BLUE I got the comment left to me on the above article by Bill – telling me I had found them and explaining a little bit about he and his brother – what they were doing now etc. That was followed up by other emails and Facebook greetings and conversations. It seemed like a miracle to me especially because all of us lived much of life before internet.
That miracle has been such a blessing – as we met William (Bill) with his new wife, Donna in Seattle and had a wonderful dinner together and a time rejoicing over how good God is in bringing us all together again after so many years. Bill shared with us that those lost years had been tough ones as his mother died shortly after we lost touch with them – his father had left them many years before that. The brothers were truly on their own after that and had some rough years. Bill said that he spent many years running from God and searching for things in all the wrong places – had a few failed relationship and was “lost” – until a man approached him in the lobby of somewhere he was passing through and told Bill, “you look lost”. This man prayed for Bill right there – and though it took another year for Bill to really turn his life around – he finally did begin by saying to himself, “I need to find a church”. Soon after he rededicated his life to Christ and became very involved in his local church. He told us last night that he never forgot being baptized by Greg and the impact that had made on his life – it was his turning point for sure. He described it “like a marriage” for him. It was a beautiful moment in the restaurant and Donna and I were very teary. The picture of that lost boy – (now man) coming full circle and coming back to something he had once believe so strongly in – was a miracle.
He met Donna at that church after recommitting his life back to Christ and they were married a year ago last February. She is a wonderful lady – so perfect for Bill and we are so happy for them both.
Here are some pictures of our very joyful reunion last night with Bill who is not 18 anymore – but 46!!! How can this be???
I am hoping you will be encouraged by what has happened to Greg and me the last couple of years – and that you will know for sure that God orders our steps and allows us to make the impact on lives for His purpose and in His great timing. Never be weary in well doing – for in time you will reap a great harvest if you don’t give up. Those you touch and influence for His glory – will never be in vain.