Thursday, May 22, 2008

Paul's Homecoming

Yesterday a good friend of mine went home to be with the Lord. Paul Townsend, who had served with Campus Crusade and then Promise Keepers, had been one of our Associate Pastor. The last few years, he had started his own ministry called Frontlines where he used his experience and gifting in counseling to minister to others in full-time Christian vocation most of whom are serving internationally.

Robin & I got to know Paul and Martha when we started attending Cornerstone Church in fall of 2000. Very quickly our hearts knitting with theirs even though we were at different life-stages. Martha was the first to see Luke after us and the hospital staff. And she and Paul were some of the first folks to visit us after Jack and Drew were born. Paul was a good friend who spoke life into me. In fact, he did that to countless others as well. I have many great memories of Paul - meeting over lunch, in LIFE groups, co-leading a Men's Group, spending holidays together, etc. The best though was when we got to Asia together.

In January of 2001, I invited Paul and our head pastor, Gene, to come with me to a STINT Midyear conference in Thailand. Both of them have experience in counseling and I knew that would be an asset for meeting with our STINTers and others serving internationally. Because at the time, we had a gal from our church serving in China with OMF, we decided to visit her on this trip too. She actually joined us in Thailand and then we all were to fly in together.

Paul was in his element at the midyear. He met with folks from sunup to sundown. He 'ghostbusted' a few teams. This is what he was made for.

As we got ready to go into China, Gene got sick. He thought it was the flu but I think it was bad sushi. So Paul and I went alone with Angie to Kunming, China. Long story short but Angie had met these underground church leaders and when they heard her pastors were coming they asked if they could lead a training time. Since Gene was in bed back in Thailand, (later to rise up, run and play golf while we were working) I took his place in the training. So Paul and I tag teamed this training of underground pastors.

From this time, Paul & I went back and recruited our church's first mission team to go back and do more training. And this is what propelled Paul into the ministry he had for the last 5-6 years.

I already miss Paul. I got to see him Tuesday but he wasn't aware of my presence. But I still quoted a few scriptures to him and prayed for him. Yesterday I went back to see him and learned he had passed away an hour earlier. But I was able to be there with Martha and his kids Bryan and Natalie.

Paul had shared recently that he won't want to take his family through this cancer again but if it was just him, he would do it all over again just for the intimacy he experienced with the Lord. Now he is experiencing that to the full. He has no more pain. He has a new body. He is with His Savior. "Blessed are those who die in the Lord."

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