I got a call early yesterday morning. I almost didn't answer my cell phone thinking, "Who in Texas is calling me on Thanksgiving morning before 8 am?" But I am glad I did.
It was an old friend who I haven't heard from in maybe 15 + years. Geoffrey Okere and I both attended Truett McConnell, a small junior college in north Georgia. I didn't know Geoffrey that well at first. He was a celebrity being from Nigeria but about midway through my Freshman year we become good friends.
We stayed in touch somewhat initially. He went off to a school in Kentucky and I finished my undergrad at UGA. He got his Masters and Doctrine from Seminary and moved to Denton, Texas to pastor for a while. I seem to remember him telling me that there were a lot of Nigerians there. I knew he got married and then over time I lost touch with him. I assumed (correctly) that he moved back to Nigeria. Somewhere in there he has written a few books that are on Amazon. He now is back in Texas and has started a ministry of prayer and church-planting.
As we talked, my heart was filled with gratitude to the Lord for the friendship Geoffrey and I had 25 years ago. I recall a young man who loved the Lord and was passionate about his word and the gospel. Friends used to use me as a 'translator' of sorts for Geoffrey and visa versa. His English was good but I seemed to understand him better than others and good translate back to him words spoken in thick Georgian accents that didn't sound like English to him. I have often thought the Lord gave Geoffrey to me as a friend to prepare for understanding broken English.
I do know (and told him) that he helped install in me a heart for the Great Commission and the world. I remember being his wingman a couple of times as he shared the gospel with some other students. At that time, I had never flown in a plane and had only been to 5 states. Alabama was a foreign land to me. (It still is but for different reasons now.) Geoffrey helped me see that there was a world out there with great needs. My first international experience 5 years after we left Truett would be to Africa - Kenya not Nigeria though. I was happy to tell him over the phone that I was going to South Africa in less than two weeks.
Geoffrey was a young man who was wise and sound in his faith. I was blessed to have such a friend at an important time in my life. I look froward to renewing our friendship and mutually encouraging one another.
I am glad I took that call.